In Episode 13 of The IoT Podcast we are joined by Omar Qaise, the Founder & CEO of OQ Technology to explore the world of satellites and how his company is set to revolutionise the future of 5G coverage through their low earth orbit satellite network, which will enable worldwide cellular coverage, and seamless connectivity for 5G users, even in the most rural of places! OQ Technology is a global 5G Network Operator, transforming the cellular and satellite communication Industries as we speak.
In this episode we explore:
- The background and operations of OQ as an innovative Network Operator
- How low Earth Orbit satellites will enable global 5G coverage and value this will bring – How OQ Technology is set apart from competitors
- The biggest challenges in deployment as a 5G Network Operator
- The qualities for success as a start-up company
- Visions for the future of 5G technology
Welcome to the IoT podcast. I’m your host, Tom White. This is episode 12. We are joined today by Omar Qaise from OQ Technology.
Omar is the founder of OQ Technology, which is a global 5G network operator, transforming cellular and satellite communications as we speak right now. Omar, thank you, and welcome to the show.
Thank you very much, Tom. Thanks for hosting me. I appreciate it.
Why did you set up OQ Technology?
You’re very welcome. Omar, could we start by giving a brief explanation of what OQ Technology is doing and what prompted you to start this business?
OQ Technology is really looking into expanding cellular 5G communication footprints into remote and rural areas where there’s no coverage and specifically for machine-to-machine and Internet of Things communication.
We achieve this using non-terrestrial networks like low earth orbit satellites, drones, balloons, HAPs.
What promoted this need to start this was when I worked before mainly in the energy, oil, and gas sector in Africa and the Middle East. I noticed that there is always a market gap with traditional satellite communication, and the satellite was always seen as a costly solution, while cellular communication provides a lot of value and quality.
However, many communities were deprived of the value of advanced communication, and now with the 5G revolution, it’s mainly confined to urban areas.
Then when I took on my business. I said, ‘my mission is to really make this a revolution and bring the benefit of 5G into remote and rural areas and those communities everywhere, whether on the sea, in the poles, in the mountains, or dessert.
Because you’ve got a background in satellite technology, this isn’t your first dip into it. You used to work for a satellite technology business, is that correct?
Yes. I mean, I started as a telecommunication engineer. I worked as a spacecraft engineer on different types of satellites, specifically with telecommunication at the German Aerospace Center, at the European Space Agency.
I also worked at SES Astra, one of the largest satellite telecom, GEO supply telecom operators in Luxembourg. Through that, I mean, I switched from technical to business. I was looking into business development and sales, this was a really good fit to see where new technologies can fit into a satellite business, or revolutionize this field.
What is OQ Technology doing to accelerate the 5G Market?
Yeah, fantastic. Obviously, 5G technology is generating a lot of exciting prospects for the future.
There’s a lot of talk about what 5G can do, the leaps and bounds that it has taken obviously from 4G. What is OQ Technology doing specifically to enhance business and consumer operations in the 5G market?
Additionally, what value can we expect to see in the integration of OQ Tech and 5G technology globally?
Yeah. As you can see, the trend right now is towards really getting mobile communication and satellite communication together, that the boundaries are falling apart between the two and for users who are dependent on cellular networks. There’s a huge segment of applications and verticals that depend on that.
They have a problem that once their operations or their mobiles are outside of the connectivity to that cellular network, to the cell tower, that they lose connectivity.
Then they have to rely on non-standardized satellite systems, very expensive systems, and different technologies, which are all difficult to integrate with the cellular technology.
What we are trying to bring here is the same exactly cellular 5G Airlink with the satellite.
Imagine your cellular tower; instead of being standing stationary in a city, it’s flying, and you connect with it. If you have a SIM card and a device that connects inside a city to a certain operator, once you go out, you seamlessly connect to our network, and you didn’t feel that there is a change.
This way the cellular footprint will be everywhere in the world. Today only 25% of the world is covered by cellular communication. That’s not even talking about 5G. Now we want to change this by using low earth orbit satellite networks.
Yeah. Wow, only 25%. I mean, that’s staggering if you think about it. For me growing up, living in the UK, the use of cellular connectivity, it’s been around as long as I’ve been able to use these devices, right.
Knowing that 25% of the world is covered- is that the difference between the developed world and countries that maybe are not so developed with technology? Is that where that figure comes from?
No, it comes from the reality that for terrestrial networks, you need to build towers, you need to dig cables underground and that’s fine-
For the infrastructure.
Yeah, but you cannot cover the whole world with its mountains and seas, and that’s the issue. Our satellite, you can easily from above have a very huge footprint and then cover the world.
It’s just that there hasn’t been any satellite that is using the same technology as cellular, and we are trying to bring this and fly it into the sky.
How is OQ Technology innovating the 5G Market ahead of competitors?
That leads me on quite nicely to my next question. Without revealing the secret sauce, so to speak, what differentiates OQ Tech from other companies that may be proposing similar solutions, or going in the same way? What do you think it is that you’re doing slightly differently?
What we look at is there are three main dimensions where there’s a difference. Suppose you look at all traditional or even in new coming IoT satellite operators. In that case, it’s always the same model as you bring your own technology you invented. You try to build the whole ecosystem from scratch, the infrastructure, the satellite, the user terminals, and the service.
It’s a huge thing. Now what we’re doing, we are not inventing any technology, we’re tapping into an existing technology, standardized everywhere in the world.
You go to Brazil, you go to Australia, everyone will know LTE, everyone will know 5G. We’re tapping in this existing ecosystem, and we’re trying to expand that into remote and rural areas through satellites.
The ecosystem exists already. The market is huge; you don’t need to build this from scratch. You will be interoperable with everyone else. That’s an advantage.
The other advantage is especially for IoT, cellular communication offers high scalability. We talk about mass machine communication where millions and billions of devices will be connected and imagine how it can connect all this through satellites. Cellular technology is well-fit 5G technology to address that and better than any other technology, so we use it.
Finally, you have a better data size using cellular technology. Instead of just doing IoT, tracking data, and small messages, maybe you can add to its voice or some larger amount of data files to transfer, for example, predictive maintenance, smart metering, or any other type of application. That’s what makes us different that we follow a scalable global standard.
That’s really interesting. Yeah, thank you. I mean, obviously we’ve spoken in the past, but for me there, that’s a really interesting snippet of the differentiation.
Yeah, just to give you an example.
What we’re looking really in the end is a chip that can connect seamlessly to mobile network and to satellite.
Today, imagine you have a fleet of trucks that you manage, and you need to track where they are going anywhere in the world. I sell you a board, a tracking device, which has a chip for mobile and oh, once you’re out, there is no mobile coverage.
Then you need some satellite modem, and then you have to add another chip. The cost of the device will increase with two different types of technology.
Imagine now that doesn’t exist. You have only one chip that connects to LTE, 5G, and to satellite 5G over millions of chips and devices. You can imagine how much cost we reduce for the end-users and the opportunity.
What are the biggest challenges in implementing the wide deployment of Low-Earth Orbit Satellites?
Yeah. I think it goes to say that the opportunity is obviously massive given the fact that 5G is relatively new in the sense of it rolling out, right, for domestic users, and what have you.
What would you say have been the biggest challenges to date for OQ Tech that you’ve faced, and also will face in the future deployment of your technology?
Yeah. Of course, like any startup coming with innovative technology, one of the big hurdles is of course that you have always to deal with is funding, for example, and trying to find funding resources for deployment of such a network. This is one of the challenges we work on.
There is also the challenge of Talent, as well as, educating customers with this new technology. At the same time, you know that 5G is also being deployed, and the good thing there is convergence towards how 5G will be used in different countries and with which frequency and all this.
But of course, until that comes, there’s this transitional period, which is also a bit challenging that we are monitoring closely. We are also in the global 3GPP group for standardization of 5G, working with the different operators and big players in order to have one standardized system in remote and rural areas. We’re bringing a lot of value to that too.
What is the future of 5G Technology?
That is fantastic. Omar, what’s the vision for the future for you within OQ technology and also your personal view on where we might go with both 5G and satellite communications?
Our vision really is to make every smartphone in the end speak the same language as satellites. That’s our vision.
Wow. Okay. In layman’s terms, so for people that may not know the technology behind this, what does that mean to actually have a smartphone speak the same language, and this standardization? What are the benefits of having that?
Well, the benefits are having the ubiquitous connectivity anywhere in the world, providing cellular coverage to the remote deprived communities that can reap the benefits of this new 5G technology and telecommunication with its different applications. Something that is still a challenge to bring to a lot of the areas and communities in the world.
Today, I mean, I can give you a simple example, although we are focused on IoT machine-to-machine communication, this is our long-term vision, but you have connectivity in your cellular. You may go out on a highway and suddenly you lose your signal. There’s no more coverage, especially if we go away from the city and imagine that on the whole planet. That’s what we want to change.
You can imagine the effect on education, on medical applications, machine communication, tracking, security, all the different fields that benefit from agriculture energy, that benefit from satellite communication, in remote or rural areas.
I think, that is a real prominent message, isn’t it? One of the aims of this podcast is to try and normalize the technology that thought leaders such as yourself are developing.
I guess, the closest way to relate this is to say, remember when Wi-Fi calling came in and you’d moved to a new house, and the last thing you’d do is check for cellular connectivity. You wouldn’t check on how many bars, you’d be looking in the garden. Is the garden big enough, does it have enough rooms, but when you realize the dead spots, WiFi calling, that enablement has really improved and enriched many, many people’s lives. To have a similar concept based around satellites when you’re traveling is a really big thing.
It’s going to be massive. I can see why you founded the business and why you’re always so busy as well. It’s a big task at hand, right.
Exactly. I enjoy it.
Well Omar, thank you so much for coming on the show. It’s been great to speak to you in this context, and I know you’re super busy, so we really appreciate your time and thank you once again.
Thanks a lot, Tom. I really appreciate it. Yeah, hopefully we’ll have another interaction in the future.
Yeah, I’d like that. All right. Cheers.