Iridium, a satellite communications network, is bringing data coverage to almost the entire globe with its Iridium GO! portable satellite hotspot. The device is going to create a satellite-backed 100-foot WiFi zone anywhere on the planet to which tablets can connect in order to check email, access the Web, and even make calls and send texts.
Wireless carriers have made a lot of progress getting cellular data access to most people, but there are still gaps. The Iridium GO! is being designed to bring data coverage for personal devices once they move out of range of cellular networks by connecting to a constellation of satellites in orbit. It could be a life-saver for travelers who often find themselves roaming or unable to connect to the Internet in any capacity.
Cellular networks are a better option for most people because Iridium’s data rates are slow (2.4 to 2.8Kbps), the cost is relatively high ($35 to $130 a month depending on usage), a clear view of the sky is required, and the types of apps that can be used are restricted. But for those who want to go to the remotest places and still stay in touch with the world via their iPad, then there will soon be a mobile hotspot available.
According to the company, the accessory will be able to withstand rain, sand, dust, and rough use, making it a solid travel companion. It will sell for around $800.
Not a Typical Hotspot
In order to enable the mobile hotspot, users must raise its antenna, which will power up the Iridium GO!, connect it to the satellite network, and create a Wi-Fi connection. Users will then open the Iridium GO! app on their smartphone or tablet to connect their personal devices.
Only Iridium’s app will be able to make use of the satelite data connection, but the company is licensing the platform to allow software developers to utilize its network through the mobile hotspot. The program will provide its partners with access the platform application programming interfaces (APIs), developers guidelines, and certification details in order to have their applications features on the Iridium website. Some companies, including Global Marine Networks (GMN), Satcom Direct, DeLorme, and OCENS have already joined the program.
The Iridium GO! will also include an SOS emergency feature that creates a speedy two-way connection with an emergency provider.
This accessory will be introduced in the first half of this year. It will compatible with Iridium’s current satellite network, and will also work with the Iridium NEXT satellites the company plans to launch in 2015.