Iridium Launches Portable Satellite Hotspot
Iridium Communications Inc. today announced Iridium GO!, the industry’s first portable satellite hotspot that connects to any smartphone or tablet, dramatically extending voice and data coverage for personal devices when they are out of range of cellular networks. Iridium GO! creates a satellite-backed Wi-Fi zone anywhere on the planet, enabling up to five smartphones to make calls, get their email, text and use some apps, even when terrestrial networks are non-existent, unreliable or costly. This first of its kind product allows users to conduct business, connect with family or access information no matter where they may travel – without the need for a satellite phone.
“Iridium GO! expands our portfolio and speaks to both how people use devices today and the growing and changing needs within enterprises,” stated Matt Desch, CEO, Iridium. “Iridium GO! enables people to use their own trusted devices – their smartphone or tablet – even when they are off the cellular grid, all while maintaining access to their contacts and applications, as well as reliable voice and data services. It is also the lowest cost device and service offering that Iridium has ever made, making truly global coverage more affordable than ever.”
Iridium GO! is not just a product, it is also a powerful platform for developers. Created to be flexible, Iridium is licensing the capability to allow app developers to utilize the Iridium satellite network through Iridium GO! to tailor their products to meet the needs of organizations or individuals, and extend the capabilities of the product even further. The Iridium GO! developer program will provide partners with access to platform application programming interfaces (APIs), developer guidelines, and certification details to have their applications featured on the Iridium Apps section on Iridium.com, linking to their app store locations. Many companies are already working to have Iridium GO! apps built and available this year in the areas of maritime, aviation, outdoor recreation and enterprise solutions. Initial development partners include:
- OCENS – Transforming GRIB and classical weather, ocean and fishing data into interactive decision tools
- Global Marine Networks (GMN) – Optimized email services for maritime use
- Satcom Direct – Mobile applications that enable connectivity for passengers while in flight
- Appareo Systems – Engineering and manufacturing of electronics, software and data communications solutions for aviation and agriculture
- DeLorme – Communication, information, and safety applications
- AIRSIS – Solutions for the energy and transportation industries
- JouBeh Technologies – Innovative Iridium OEM hardware and software solutions provider for various applications
Iridium GO! is incredibly simple to use – raising the antenna turns on the device, which then automatically connects to the Iridium network and establishes a Wi-Fi connection. By using a special Iridium GO! app on their device, individuals can then use their phone or tablet to make voice calls, text, send their precise location to family and friends and even report a personal emergency through an available SOS service.
Several key features are built into the product. Like Iridium’s satellite phones, Iridium GO! is designed to be rugged; it is built to withstand rain, sand, dust and rough use. The included SOS functionality creates a fast, two-way connection with an emergency provider – bringing peace of mind anywhere in the world.
With a small form-factor, Iridium GO! is highly portable, providing a Wi-Fi network with a coverage radius of 100 feet. Users can connect devices wirelessly without any special adapters and enjoy great voice quality, thanks to the use of optimized audio fidelity of their smartphones. In addition, Iridium GO! is Iridium NEXT-ready; it works on the current satellite network and will work with the new Iridium NEXT satellites that will begin launching in 2015.
“Iridium GO! is truly a new way of making mobile satellite connections and will expand the market for MSS,” said Eric Verheylewegen, Vice President & General Manager for GMPCS. “It’s small and very portable and doesn’t add any weight to the user’s smartphone. It also has the flexibility to connect a variety of different devices, and numerous devices at a time, which is unprecedented. It really enables maximum flexibility for our customers – it’s like carrying a small, personal cell tower with you wherever you go.”
Travelers to remote countries can keep an Iridium GO! in their bag and instantly connect at a café through their smartphone to text or call family and friends at home. Outdoor adventurers will never have to worry again about missing an important email while back-country camping. The device is also valuable for the military and first responders, as well as for emerging machine-to-machine (M2M) applications. Developers in the transportation industry, for example, can link sensors and monitors from their apps in the vehicle through Iridium GO!
Iridium GO! will be available during the first half of 2014 through select Iridium distribution partners. The Iridium GO! developers program is currently available for select partners, and is expected to be commercially available in Q2 2014.