That’s why, in 2017, Trivedi and a passionate group of engineers and scientists from MIT and Stanford founded Palo Alto–based Skylo, a non-terrestrial network service provider spanning the globe. The beauty of Skylo’s proprietary radio access network technology is that it connects IoT devices, cell phones, and smartwatches over existing satellites, with no need for separate modems or antennas.
Skylo started as a research project at Stanford, as Trivedi and his colleagues were building and launching satellites to monitor the ozone. “We realized that satellite connectivity is complex and expensive, requiring special hardware and massive antennas,” Trivedi says. “But the type of data we needed to send and receive was quite small. We said, ‘Something’s broken here.’”
The solution? Firmware that layers on top of existing hardware using the same standards as cellular, allowing devices to seamlessly switch between cellular and satellite connectivity in the roughly 80% of the Earth’s surface where cellular coverage is not available.
Obvious use cases are just the beginning and include monitoring energy and utility infrastructure such as offshore wind farms and undersea pipelines; tracking logistics for long haul trucking and shipping containers; monitoring soil and weather conditions on farms; and even ensuring the safety of hikers and sailors who need to send an emergency SOS. In addition to existing use cases, the technology could unleash a new wave of IoT applications that would have been impossible without ubiquitous connectivity.
“We are going to start seeing data mobilized from geographies that would never have been possible before,” Trivendi says, citing the devastating earthquakes in Turkey in early 2023 as an example. “In a natural disaster like an earthquake, tsunami, or hurricane, the first thing to go down is the mobile network. First responders can’t do their lifesaving jobs.”
Major companies angling to break into the market are launching large and powerful satellites. But Trivendi believes Skylo has the competitive edge, having secured spectrum and landing rights in 195 countries and formed partnerships with existing satellite operators. Better yet, Skylo has amassed a portfolio of more than 65 patents for its core RAN technology.
As Skylo ascends, Trivendi sees a brighter future ahead for his kids and grandkids—one without dead zones. “I can tell you, as a fact at this point, they’re going to ask, ‘You used to go to places where a network didn’t exist?’ To me, seeing that in our lifetime is remarkable.”