Satellite Technology Feature Article
Iridium Takes Satellite Phones to the Extreme
By Rich Steeves, TMCnet Web Editor
These days, so many products and activities are described as “extreme.” From extreme sports, like snowboarding or riding a BMX bike down an alpine slope, to flavors of snack foods with extra flavor, sometimes it feels like the label is overused. But in some instances, extreme is exactly the right adjective to use. In the case of the Iridium (News - Alert) Extreme satellite phone, the word fits the bill nicely.
According to Josh Miner, director of product management at Iridium, stated that, after several years of market study, looking at how the company’s 9555 phone had been doing in the space for the past three or four years, the company saw a few needs and trends. There were certain classes of user, Miner said, that needed a satellite phone that could work in any number of rugged environments. These users included the military, mining and maritime spaces.
Iridium’s goal was to create the most rugged phone in the industry. It meets military specifications, and has emergency and tracking features. To meet military specs, it is able to endure temperature variations, rain, salt, fog, shock and dust, all to the levels set down by the Department of Defense. In addition to military applications, the phone can be a boon to any number of other industries, such as oil and gas exploration.
The Iridium Extreme boasts the new SEND feature, which is designed to meet the standards set by the Radio Technical Commission for Maritime Services committee, which is concerned with search and rescue and closely aligned with the Coast Guard. The solution is especially good for boaters, who will not have a two-way connection rather than previous solutions, which allowed for one-way connections only. This solution screens out false alarms and sends important specs along to emergency contacts. Users can cancel the call if need be and the feature sends along a packet of important information. Once activated, the SEND feature starts a countdown, indicating current position and giving an opt-out option. It lets the user have a hands free conversation with an SOS (News - Alert) center (available 24-hours a day and equipped with translation capabilities). Before journeying out to sea, users can register their medical history and emergency contact information and preferred language, all as part of their basic subscription.
The phone also boasts several key location-based features. The casual or infrequent user can geotag, view and share this location and add a note, sending this information to the designated recipient in an email that includes a Google (News - Alert) Maps link. The phone also has SMS capabilities including the ability to send to group lists. Short burst data will route messages through the solution provider’s server, and there are 10-25 different providers that work with Iridium, including many from different markets: commercial, military and maritime.
I had the opportunity to give this device a test run and I was impressed. The voice quality was better than expected, connection time was fast and there was little noticeable lag in the conversation. I also tested out the SMS features, and they worked seamlessly. I wish I’d had the chance to take it for a spin the desert or on the tundra, but no matter, I found it to be robust, easy to use and of high quality. And I am pleased to know that, if I had been in a sandstorm or blizzard, I would have been in good hands!
Want to learn more about the latest in communications and technology? Then be sure to attend ITEXPO West 2012, taking place Oct. 2-5, in Austin, TX. ITEXPO (News - Alert) offers an educational program to help corporate decision makers select the right IP-based voice, video, fax and unified communications solutions to improve their operations. It's also where service providers learn how to profitably roll out the services their subscribers are clamoring for – and where resellers can learn about new growth opportunities. For more information on registering for ITEXPO click here.
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Edited by Allison Boccamazzo