SpaceX to acquire IoT smallsat startup
Swarm Technologies is building what it says is a low-cost, two-way global satellite connectivity network for IoT devices. According to the FCC filings, the company, which currently has a constellation of 120 “SpaceBee” smallSats in low-earth orbit, has reached an agreement with SpaceX to merge, at which point it will become “a direct wholly-owned subsidiary of SpaceX.”
In February, the company announced that its commercial mini-satellite network – designed to provide two-way communications at low data rates for markets such as agriculture, energy, and transportation – was live. The FCC filing indicates that the company believes that the acquisition will give it the resources it needs to compete with other companies that operate similar satellite systems.
“Swarm’s services,” states the filing, “will benefit from the better capitalization and access to resources available to SpaceX, as well as the synergies associated with acquisition by a provider of satellite design, manufacture, and launch services.”
The company raised $25 million in a Series A funding round in early 2019. That funding, says the company, was more than sufficient to deploy its planned constellation of 150 satellites and begin services.
SpaceX for its part already has its own satellite internet constellation consisting of over 1600 satellites. According to the company, the broadband satellite internet service, called Starlink, currently has about 90,000 users. Its goal is to provide global hogh-speed internet to consumers anywhere on the planet. especially in rural areas without connection.
The company has not disclosed how it intends to leverage Swarm’s network of satellites, which operate in a different band – very high frequency (VHF) – than the Starlink broadband satellites. Terms and financial details about the deal have not been disclosed.
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