Iridium announces NEXT operational and unveils new IoT transceiver

Malcolm Latarche
Malcolm Latarche
ShipInsight

07 February 2019


At a press conference to announce the completion of its NEXT satellite constellation, Iridium used the opportunity to introduce a new small-form-factor transceiver known as the Iridium CertusSM 9770, which will enable creation of new consumer and industrial applications that are highly portable and IoT-friendly, optimised for small size and low cost, yet with higher speeds than in the past.

The completion of the Iridium NEXT campaign comes as the final two satellites required to complete the network refresh were activated on February 5th at approximately 2:15 pm EST. With a fully operational constellation, featuring 66 new Iridium satellites and no further launches planned, Iridium has concluded its nearly decade-long capital-intensive program that created an upgraded network both in space and on the ground.

The new Iridium Certus 9770 transceiver, also introduced during the press conference, was described as a game changer for satellite IoT, aviation, maritime and consumer services, enabling low-cost, small devices that can make more efficient and higher speed connections than its predecessors.

Built on the Iridium Certus technology platform, applications and devices made with the new transceiver will feature a range of speeds optimised for efficiently sending data to and from the user, typically in the range of less than 100kbps. The Iridium Certus 9770 is the first in a series of new devices that will augment Iridium’s existing transceivers with approximately the same form-factor as existing narrowband antennas used widely today in aviation, maritime, IoT and land-mobile markets, but using native IP technology at up to 35 times the speed as current devices. This supports telemetry, pictures, high-quality voice calling, emails, internet access and more, at what Iridium says are highly competitive prices. Select licensed manufacturers of Iridium can expect to receive prototypes of the device around mid-2019.

“The completion of the Iridium NEXT program signifies a new chapter in the Iridium story, one that sees us transforming from a big cash spender to a big cash generator,” said Iridium CEO Matt Desch. “This is the realisation of a long, successful climb, and reaching the peak, it’s gratifying to know the future of the company is secure, and we have now financially matured as a satellite operator. Huge thanks are in order to our entire team, particularly our friends at SpaceX and our prime satellite manufacturer Thales Alenia Space and their teams.”