Satelles completes funding round for secure PNT platform

October 21, 2019  - By
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Satelles Inc., provider of highly secure satellite-based time and location services, has raised $26 million in Series C funding. C5 Capital led the round, with participation from Iridium Communications and existing investors.

The new investment brings Satelles’s total funding since the launch of its platform to $39 million and will help the company expand its sales and marketing efforts, broaden its partner network, and accelerate product development.

In 2016, Satelles demonstrated sub-microsecond timing using its Satellite Time & Location (STL) service with a stand-alone TCXO-based receiver. In February 2018, the company released new tests using configurations with a differential source and with a more accurate OCXO clock, producing timing accuracy of 160 nanoseconds.

Industry and government requirements for positioning, navigation, and timing (PNT) are expanding at a rapid pace, and the Satellite Time and Location (STL) broadcast signal from Satelles provides assured PNT across a range of applications and at scale.

“Today’s world runs on systems requiring trusted time and location information, and C5 Capital shares our commitment to make it a more secure and better place,” said Michael O’Connor, CEO of Satelles. “We are delighted that C5 led this latest investment round because they bring great insight into cybersecurity, and their international network is unparalleled.”

Attacks such as jamming and spoofing — where a radio transmitter near the target is used to interfere with legitimate GPS or GNSS signals — and hacking are becoming more of a threat because of the key role that GPS and GNSS play in the operation of critical infrastructure.

The STL signal strength is much greater than GNSS because the LEO satellites are much closer. (Slide: Satelles)

The STL signal strength is much greater than GNSS because the LEO satellites are much closer. (Slide: Satelles)

According to the company, the Satelles STL platform brings security to telecommunications networks, financial exchanges, electrical grids, maritime transportation systems, and many other sectors that depend on timing or location information.

Downtime or malfunctions in these systems due to such attacks would be very costly. A June 2019 report sponsored by the National Institute of Standards and Technology estimated a $45 billion loss to the U.S. economy if GPS were to experience a 30-day service disruption.

The Satellite Time and Location broadcast service from Satelles is encrypted to thwart malefactors aspiring to spoof or otherwise disrupt the STL signal, which is delivered via the low-Earth-orbit (LEO) satellite constellation operated by Iridium, an investor in this financing round.

“STL addresses a critical and growing need across many applications and industries, so Iridium’s investment in Satelles aligns with our strategic vision,” said Matt Desch, CEO of Iridium Communications. “Satelles’s technology is unique and powerful, and we are proud to host such an innovative service that solves important problems and leverages the unique capabilities of our network.”

The Iridium satellite constellation-based system offers many advantages:

  • A signal 1,000 times stronger than GPS/GNSS is better at reaching users and facilities in GPS/GNSS-challenged environments such as inside buildings, underground locations, and urban canyons.
  • Overlapping and constantly moving spot beams enable revolutionary cybersecurity solutions that can rely on trusted time and location for authentication and data access.
  • Polar-orbiting, cross-linked satellites ensure truly global coverage.
  • The L-band frequency range allows small, low-cost equipment to receive the Satelles STL signal.

“The capabilities of Satellite Time and Location are enhanced by the technical and service delivery attributes of low-Earth-orbit satellites,” said Dr. Gregory Gutt, President and CTO of Satelles. “An extraordinary constellation such as Iridium’s gives us an incredible platform from which to deliver our trusted PNT solutions, so we remain committed to LEO technologies going forward.”

Commenting on the closure of the Series C investment in Satelles, Andre Pienaar, Managing Partner of C5 Capital, said, “Space is a rapidly developing battleground for cyber threats to critical infrastructure, and GPS is unable to meet all these challenges. Satelles has developed a powerful solution which not only prevents attacks but provides a stronger and more effective service through STL. We are pleased to have led this funding round and look forward to working closely with this remarkable business.”

About the Author:


Tracy Cozzens has served as managing editor of GPS World magazine since 2006, and also is editor of GPS World’s sister website, Geospatial Solutions. She has worked in government, for non-profits, and in corporate communications, editing a variety of publications for audiences ranging from federal government contractors to teachers.

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