These days, it feels as if our cell phones can do anything. To say they are a lifeline is not an exaggeration. In fact, you know this if you’ve ever been stranded in the middle of nowhere only to realize that your smartphone is rendered useless with no cell tower in sight. If only there was a way to stay connected from anywhere in the world so you would never be without such essential communication. Iridium satellite is doing just that.
Communicating on a global level is made possible through Iridium’s satellite network. Here you’ll find out what Iridium satellite is, how its network allows users to stay connected worldwide, and the products that run on its unmatched platform.
Connect Globally with Iridium Satellite
Even with the number of cell phones outnumbering the Earth’s population (yes, you heard that right), their capabilities still aren’t enough for many users. For those who travel to remote areas of the world, more is required in order to stay connected. Dead zones, what we like to call those areas where our phones no longer work, are a lot more prevalent than you might think.
If you aren’t prepared, you could quickly end up in a pocket of the world where your phone won’t work (perhaps even your favorite National Park.)
So, how can Iridium Satellite helps its users to keep the seamless connectivity they require?
Well, first of all, it’s not just remote land areas that Iridium satellite covers. We are talking about complete global coverage. With its 66 crosslinked low earth orbit (LEO) satellites, there’s literally no place in the world you can’t stay connected. Utilizing product offerings that run on the Iridium satellite network means voice and data connectivity have no boundaries whether you’re communicating via land, sea, or air.
Iridium Offers Communication Reliability
Are you an individual going on a days-long backpacking trip into a canyon? Need to conduct business within a massive fleet among worldwide waterways? No matter how big or how small your communication needs, you need to know you’ll always be connected. From satellite phones to broadband Internet, Iridium satellite offers unparalleled connectivity. They understand that there is no room for lack of service in our ever-changing world.
Because the satellite constellation is in low orbit with pole-to-pole coverage users can rely on:
- a short transmission path
- strong signals
- lower latency (the ability to process a high volume of date with minimal delay)
When it comes to satellite connectivity, Iridium satellites offer the best of the best. The fact that Iridium is trusted by “more than a million mariners, pilots, humanitarians, first responders, governments, and more around the world,” is confirmation that it’s a service you don’t want to be without.
The bottom line is this: if you or your team will be traveling or conducting business from remote corners of the world, cellular connectivity isn’t enough. Voice and data, broadband, and push-to-talk are the capabilities users can look forward to with Iridium satellite.
A range of product offerings are available to suit anyone’s needs including:
- Maritime Solutions
- Companies requiring Internet of Things (IoT) network devices
- Iridium Aviation Solutions
- Secure Government Solutions
- Teams who need instant communication with a push of a button
- Users needing Rugged Land Mobile Devices
- Individuals requiring an Emergency Satellite Device
Where cell coverage can easily be compromised by natural disasters, products operating on Iridium’s high-performing satellite network will continue to operate without issue.
Curious to know more about how the Iridium satellite network and how it all began? We answer your top questions about this powerful method of worldwide connectivity.
Iridium Satellite FAQ
What is Iridium?
Iridium is the only satellite communications company that can boast a fully functional global connection. Connecting in remote areas where no cellular connectivity is available is possible with Iridium. Not only does it allow communication to continue in remote land areas, but users are able to stay connected by air, across oceans, and even throughout the polar regions. Iridium knows that its customers require reliable connectivity no matter where they end up, which is why they’ve made coverage possible from pole-to-pole. Since there are no coverage gaps with the Iridium satellite, users can expect to make voice calls, send text messages, transmit files, surf the web, and more.
Who owns Iridium satellites?
The Iridium satellite constellation is now owned and operated by Iridium Communications, Inc. located in McLean, Virginia. The evolution of the current company structure was first launched with Iridium SSC in 1998. The company initally planned to deploy 77 satellites, which is equal to the atomic number of the element Iridium. This is where the company got its name. The full launch was unsuccessful, and the founding company filed for bankruptcy less than 1 year later. Because of a government bailout, a team of private investors was able to relaunch the company in 2001 under Iridium Satellite LLC.
After rapid growth, the company merged with GHL Acquisition and was renamed Iridium Communications. It now publicly trades on Nasdaq under the symbol “IRDM.”
How many satellites does Iridium have?
Though Iridium planned to launch 77 satellites, it was determined that only 66 were needed in order to allow for blanket coverage of Earth as desired. With the launch of Iridium NEXT in 2019, 66 crosslinked LEO satellites were put into orbit. There are also 9 spares in space to serve as replacements in case of failure among any which are currently active. This is the perfect number for users to have coverage pole-to-pole in remote land areas, through air, and over oceans.
How big is an Iridium satellite?
The entire Iridium constellation consists of 66 active satellites, 11 each in 6 orbital planes that surround the earth. This is the number of satellites required so that at least one satellite is always in view from every point on the Earth’s surface at any given time. Each satellite within the Iridium satellite network orbits the earth from pole to same pole in about 100 minutes. During this movement, inter-satellite links occur between satellites orbiting in the same direction, ensuring seamless service coverage no matter where users are in the world.
What happened to Iridium?
Iridium has gone through a major transformation since the idea of a worldwide communication system via satellite was first conceived in the late 1980s.
Though it was first thought an interconnected constellation of satellites would require 77 of them for global coverage, engineers later realized that 66 was the number required. Over the next 10 years, over 90 satellites were built and launched into space. Commercial service was launched in 1998. But the company went bankrupt just one year later (due to the expansion and growth of cell phones and cell service that had occurred in the 10 years leading up to this time), which would mean shutting down Iridium for good.
But a group of global investors who signed a service contract with the U.S. Department of Defense saved Iridium just in the nick of time. Iridium would carry on.
Though these first satellites were only expected to have a lifespan of 7 years, they were able to function for much longer. Eventually, it was time for an upgrade. They were finally replaced with 75 next-generation Iridium satellites as part of the Iridium NEXT mission. New satellites were launched into space beginning in 2017. In two years’ time, there would be a full revamp of this unique and powerful space technology.
All communication services were transferred from the old fleet of satellites to the new in February 2019.
Wondering what happened to the old satellites that are no longer in operation? They were deboosted into the Earth’s atmosphere where they would, according to Space News, “burn up.”
For a comprehensive look into the history of the company of Iridium and where it’s headed, you can visit the Iridium Museum.
What is Iridium NEXT?
Iridium NEXT is the second generation of satellites that allow for seamless global communication. They replaced the first generation satellites as each was launched by way of Falcon 9 rockets between the years of 2017 and 2019. The Iridium NEXT constellation consists of 66 active low-orbiting satellites that allow users to maintain connectivity in any remote area worldwide.
On top of shiny new satellite replacements, other upgrades as part of Iridium NEXT include:
- data transmission features
- L band data speeds of up to 128 kbps to mobile terminals
- up to 1.5 Mbps to Irdium Pilot marine terminals
- highspeed Ka-band service of up to 8 Mbps to fixed/transportable terminals
Perhaps one of the most noteworthy upgrades is the rollout of Iridium Certus, a specialty broadband service. The Iridium Certus service is a multi-solution platform that provides multiple high defintion voice lines, with IP data speeds up to 1.4 Mbps. Iridium knows its users need to stay connected worldwide, and they want this functionality with unmatched speed. Iridium Certus is helping individual consumers, large global companies, and everything in-between with its versatile range of offerings. To find out more read, “Iridium Certus: A Reliable Worldwide Network.”
What is Iridium Satellite phone?
Iridium phones are a type of mobile phone that operate under the Iridium Satellite Network. Unlike a cellular phone that requires a cell tower within a certain mileage range, typically less than 7 miles, satellite phones send radio signals to satellites orbiting the earth. Because the Iridium Satellite Constellation covers every region of the globe, phones operating on the network can be used worldwide. This is why they are the number one satellite phone currently available to users of varying needs.
There are several Iridium satellite phones currently available including:
This US-made second-generation satellite phone is incredibly reliable even in the most rugged and remote areas of the world. With its industrial-grade design, it’s perfect for use even in the most extreme outdoor conditions. Some of its most notable features include:
- solid molded design with hardened keypad
- rubber grip
- removable articulating antenna
- menu-driven commands
- quick set-up
- 21 language choices
The Iridium 9575 Extreme lives up to its name with its market-leading toughness. Durability, reliability, and versatility are what the most rugged outdoor users require in a satellite phone, and this is it. Other features users will love include:
- integrated SOS button
- customizable GPS
- military-grade toughness
- Ingress protection of IP65
- Dust-proof, shock-proof and jet-water resistant
If remote team communications are what you require, you’ll need the Iridium Extreme PTT. The push-to-talk mode allows for instant contact with several team members without separate phone calling to each person. Other features of this PTT Iridium satellite phone include:
- compact for ultimate portability
- integrated loudspeaker
- rugged, high-gain antenna
- hands-free capability
- mini-USB data port
- meets military-grade durability standards
Don’t let the small frame of the Iridium 9555 fool you. Everything users expect from Iridium’s powerful network can be found here even with this more hand-friendly, space-saving device. Additional features include:
- includes a hands-free headset
- engineered to withstand tough environments
- includes a magnetic vehicle mount antenna for on the go users
- sleek design
Looking to turn your favorite smartphone into a satellite phone? With Iridium GO! your smartphone or tablet will work anywhere on the planet. This is the perfect option for anyone on the move or heading off the grid.
Iridium satellite also offers land, maritime, vehicular, M2M, and SBD data products and two-way satellite radios.
How much does Iridium Satellite service cost?
Iridium satellite service comes in an array of pricing options and plans. Once you’ve determined which Iridium satellite phone or product best fits your or your team’s needs, you can determine which monthly subscription or prepaid plan will work best. Pricing will depend on which product you’re using and how often you’ll require Iridium satellite services.
Here are the plans available for Iridium phone users:
For current pricing information for Iridium Phone Service Plans, click here.
One of the biggest advantages of a monthly plan choice is that users will never run out of minutes. If your satellite phone will be used minimally there are plans on the lower end with 20-40 minutes of use time; users with extensive needs can choose up to 500 minutes per month. Monthly Plans start at $59.99.
If you won’t need the use of your Iridium satellite phone for an extended period beyond a 1-month, 6-month, 1-year, or 2-year timeframe, prepaid plans can be a great choice. There are six different options that range from 75 minutes all the way up to 5,000.
For current pricing information for Iridium PTT Service Plans, click here.
Monthly and Prepaid Plans
For voice, text and data, both the monthly and prepaid plan pricing is the same as for Iridium’s other satellite phone offerings.
To activate push-to-talk capability, you will need to purchase a separate PTT access plan as well as talkgroup coverage. Pricing will depend on the area of coverage required.
For current pricing information for Iridium GO! plans, click here.
Iridium GO! Monthly Plans
Iridium GO! Monthly Plans offer a range of options to meet the needs of all users. From those needing the device in the rare event of an emergency to anyone needing constant contact needing continuous connectivity, you’ll find what you need. Plans begin at $69.99/month and go up from there.
Iridium GO! Prepaid Plans
Opting for a prepaid plan with a maximum minute limit can be a great option for some users. If needed, extra minutes can be added at any time to ensure you’re always connected on a global level. Two Prepaid Plans are available at Satmodo.
Where can you find Iridium satellite phones?
To rent or purchase an Iridium satellite phone (or another device) for your next remote adventure or crucial business venture, visit Satmodo Complete Satellite Solutions.