Iridium Pilot Maritime Service Launch Builds on Operator’s Long-Term Plans

By | February 10, 2012 | Feature, Satellite News Feed, Telecom

[Satellite TODAY Insider 02-10-12] Iridium Communications has utilized its global OpenPort maritime broadband to support the launch of a second-generation maritime broadband platform, the MSS operator announced Feb. 9.

   The Iridium Pilot platform features a fixed, electronically steerable, phased-array antenna, designed to maintain connectivity in rough seas. Iridium said the new service would offer broadband connectivity in addition to three independent phone lines, all of which work simultaneously, with data speeds up to 134 kbps. 
   Iridium Vice President of Product Management Joel Thompson said the new platform was designed with the company’s long-term strategy in mind. “Iridium Pilot will be compatible with our next-generation satellite constellation, Iridium NEXT, which is scheduled for deployment starting in 2015,” Thompson said in a statement. “Ship operators installing Iridium Pilot can have the confidence that their equipment will be supported well beyond 2020.”
   Iridium Pilot also aims to offer a suite of new capabilities for vessel telecommunications optimization, including a built-in firewall for traffic management and a bulk configuration capability to assist in efficiently managing large volumes of units. The company said it is targeting Iridium Pilot as an optimal solution for vessels of all sizes, due to the product’s small form factor, enhanced capabilities and flexible service packages.
   Euroconsult Senior Consultant Richard Roithner said analysts have noticed a rapid migration from legacy narrowband services to new generation broadband solutions in the maritime satellite communications market.
   “MSS broadband solutions, in particular those positioned in the lower price ranges, have seen significant growth over the last two years increasing at around 120 percent per year,” Roithner said in a research note. “Euroconsult projects growth to continue in the coming years as these systems provide an attractive value proposition for low- and medium-end markets, including fishing, shipping and leisure vessels, to provide safety communications, enhance ship operations, improve crew welfare as well as provide complementary services for VSAT. Our research has found that data rates of around 128kbps are sufficient for the majority of applications used onboard vessels today.” 
   Separately, Blue Sky Network introduced its new portable HawkeyeLink Bluetooth device that enables hands-free Iridium phone calls and two-way smartphone messaging on airplanes or helicopters.
   HawkeyeLink uses Bluetooth technology to connect to an Android smartphone. The company said that crew and passengers from as far as 30 meters away could now use the solution to connect their phones to the Iridium Network while in flight.
   “HawkeyeLink’s full capabilities are available when used with the Blue Sky Network’s D1000A/C modems,” Blue Sky said in a company statement. “Users of Blue Sky Network D1000 series can quickly deploy and enjoy Bluetooth connectivity with HawkeyeLink via Blue Sky Network’s unique bulkhead adapter that is easily installed into the control panel.
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