After a successful launch of the final satellites, Iridium has now announced the commercial launch of its Iridium Certus broadband service, the first new capability activated from the company’s $3 billion Iridium NEXT satellite replacement program.
This announcement marks the end of an extensive global testing phase, including beta trials with live customers; the initial service is targeted at maritime and terrestrial applications, with Iridium Certus aviation solutions expected later in 2019, once certified.
Iridium is debuting the service, which will feature a variety of speed classes, with the Iridium Certus 350 (352/352 Kbps) offering, which supports capabilities like internet and high-quality voice services to compact terminals built specifically for maritime, aviation and terrestrial/vehicle applications. Terminals will be upgradable to the next speed class, Iridium Certus 700 (352/704 Kbps), with a firmware update once available. Initial activations of the service occurred in December of 2018 with excellent system performance.
Iridium has estimated the L-band specialty broadband market size to be approximately $700 million today. Prior to the launch of Iridium Certus, the company had an approximately $25 million market share value in high-speed maritime services and looks forward to that growing with this faster and more competitive service. Iridium has previously issued guidance that it believes revenues attributed to Iridium Certus will reach an approximately $100 million yearly run rate by year end 2021.
"Iridium Certus is delivering real-time connections everywhere our vessels go. As a result, shipboard communications, vessel performance systems and the crew themselves are never out of contact. We are now able to upgrade existing broadband terminals to Iridium Certus to ensure we are getting the highest throughput at the best cost on the newest global network," said Holger Börchers of Briese Schiffahrts Leer/Germany, one of the beta testers of the service . "Iridium Certus is a game-changer for us."
Aside from operating on the only truly global satellite constellation, Iridium Certus terminals are smaller in form factor, will offer higher speeds and are more cost-effective than competitive L-band broadband offerings. Terminals are being built by Cobham (maritime), Thales (maritime, aviation and land-mobile), Collins Aerospace (aviation), L3 (aviation), Gogo (aviation) and Satcom Direct (aviation). And to date, 36 world-class service providers are authorized by Iridium to provide the service around the world.
Iridium Certus addresses the needs of satellite communications users with a robust suite of solutions for maritime, land mobile, aviation, government and IoT applications. Now that the service is available, mariners will, for the first time, have a more competitive range of choices when evaluating connectivity solutions for vessels of any size, supporting the digitalisation of shipping and the autonomous vessel movement.
Iridium says Certus is a unique platform designed for the development of specialty applications and is the world’s only truly global broadband service, offering on-the-move internet and high-quality voice access. The service enables mobile office functionality for deployed teams and two-way remote communication for ships at sea, mobile assets, autonomous vehicles, trains and aircraft.
This also includes safety-of-life services, where Iridium Certus is uniquely suited for the critical communications needs of teams operating beyond the reach of cellular coverage, including first responders and search and rescue organisations.
“The debut of Iridium Certus is the start of a new chapter in the Iridium story, one that is set to catapult us and our partners forward. At its core, Iridium Certus is an innovation engine for the future. It will enable us to provide broadband connections to teams, vehicles and the important IoT “things” that are in the 80-plus percent of the world that lacks cellular coverage,” said Iridium CEO Matt Desch. “Adoption of this new service by our partners has already begun, and it has been eagerly anticipated by every target industry. The launch of this service is a huge achievement, and it is already disrupting the status-quo through our smaller, faster, lighter and more cost-effective terminals and service.”