Iridium(R) Satellite reports continued strong growth for its global satellite communications services in the machine-to-machine (M2M) market, with an increase of 214 percent in Short Burst Data (SBD) service revenues over the same period last year. Growth in this sector in the same period from 2005 to 2006 was 98 percent. Subscriber activations for SBD have increased 317 percent over the number activated during the same period in 2006. This phenomenal rate of growth has been accelerated by significant increases in service revenues and unit activations following Iridium’s December 2005 launch of its lower-cost 9601 SBD transceiver.
“The M2M data communications market is Iridium’s most rapidly developing area of business,” said Greg Ewert, executive vice president, Iridium Satellite. “The company’s global, real-time coverage and reliable network provide an ideal backbone for remote M2M applications requiring dependable long-range wireless data links in locations worldwide. We are seeing an unprecedented surge in demand for low-latency, high-quality data communications services that can be used for M2M applications.”
“Automatic tracking is a primary driver of Iridium’s dramatic growth in M2M data services. We estimate that Iridium has over 20,000 asset tracking devices currently deployed around the world,” added Ewert.
Major Developments of Past Six Months in the M2M Market
Beam Communications Pty Ltd received an eight-year contract, valued at $3.0-$3.5 million from Telstra Corporation to supply Iridium-based satellite equipment as part of a new interstate communication infrastructure for the Australian Rail Track Corporation Ltd (ARTC). The new system will provide a single integrated network covering more than 10,000 kilometers of rail track nationwide through Telstra’s Next G(TM) technology with satellite backup permitting trains and controllers to communicate seamlessly across the entire national rail system. Telstra will integrate the Iridium circuit-switched data service into its network infrastructure, providing satellite interfaces for real-time data transmission to and from locomotives across the service area as well as backup voice channels for emergency communications.
An Iridium-based vessel monitoring system developed by Faria WatchDog(R), Inc. has been type approved by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for use on fishing vessels in U.S. waters. Faria is an Iridium value-added reseller (VAR).
Fleet Management Solutions (FMS) is an Iridium VAR of GPS/All-Satellite mobile resource management systems. FMS is providing worldwide satellite data links via the Iridium network for a new asset tracking, monitoring and remote management system, the FMS MLT-300i. FMS successfully completed worldwide validation of the MLT-300i system earlier this year.
GIT Satellite and Iridium Satellite teamed to provide critical communication connections for the Iditarod Sled Dog Race. GIT Satellite, a major sponsor of the Iditarod Race, donated a complete complement of Iridium equipment and airtime, including handheld satellite telephones and pagers, and data enabling kits, which were used to communicate with remote outposts along the 1,049-mile route from Anchorage to Nome, Alaska.
GEOTrac International, an Iridium VAR, is working with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) to apply advanced GPS, mapping and satellite communications technology to facilitate recovery of stolen vehicles and equipment. GEOTrac’s solution uses Iridium satellites to transmit location data from small GPS modules attached to the vehicles. The RCMP uses the GEOTrac system to find and recover stolen vehicles and heavy equipment. In addition to theft protection, GEOTrac’s system provides a wide range of features for managing assets and controlling operating costs.
OmniLink of Sao Paulo, Brazil, an Iridium VAR and the leading Brazilian manufacturer of smart vehicle tracking systems, has more than 20,000 vehicle tracking units installed in Brazil, including cars, trucks, buses and other means of professional transportation. Iridium is now serving as a main data communications network for the new OmniLink smart tracker system (the “RI 1480 MAX”) designed for the transportation market. The system combines the GPS technology traditionally used in vehicle tracking with wireless data communications via both cellular networks and the Iridium satellite network.
Solus Compliance partnered with Iridium and Premier GPS Inc., an Iridium value-added manufacturer (VAM) and VAR, to introduce Safety Track, a GPS device that is installed in a lone worker’s vehicle and an intrinsically safe fob (a portable two-way wireless device that the worker can carry or wear). The devices use the Iridium satellite network to enable a full circle of contact between the worker, the employer and those who can provide assistance, inform an employer when an employee is in an emergency state, pinpoint the exact location of the worker and show that location on Google Earth anywhere in the world.
The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) contracted with Iridium to activate and support approximately 200 of its 9601 SBD devices. The DoD is evaluating it for a variety of Iridium-based military systems, including the Portable Deployment Kit (PDK), a lightweight mobile integration with radio frequency identification (RFID) solutions; maritime buoys that send and receive data in extremely remote locations; and unattended ground sensors that deliver sensor-triggered data in near real-time.
WebTech Wireless Inc. introduced a new dual-mode cellular and satellite asset tracking and management solution for the transportation industry. WebTech’s new WT1900 system incorporates Iridium’s 9601 SBD transceiver and offers seamless coverage by using signal strength or other user-definable parameters to switch automatically between cellular coverage and Iridium’s satellites, ensuring the least-cost routing for the data links. The system utilizes cellular frequencies when in range of terrestrial wireless networks and Iridium satellite links in other areas.
World Communication Center (WCC), an Iridium Service Provider and VAR, in collaboration with Applied Satellite Engineering (ASE) and Ontec Technologies, provided real-time satellite data links to track the location and movement of teams during their participation in the 2007 Tesoro Iron Dog snowmobile race. The six-day race began February 11, and covered a 1,971-mile route in Alaska. The ASE SBD Pro tracking module utilizes Iridium’s SBD service and features an optional “man down” tether switch that automatically sends a distress message (including GPS coordinates) if the driver is thrown from the snowmobile.
Earlier this year, Iridium announced “Iridium NEXT,” an initiative to launch an aggressive R&D program to define and develop the company’s new satellite constellation. Iridium is designing an IP-based broadband network that will leverage new satellite and wireless technologies to provide powerful new devices and services for commercial and government users. This next-generation satellite constellation is expected to be fully operational by 2016. In the interim, Iridium is taking steps to enhance and improve the reliability and robustness of its existing satellite constellation.
New Earth Stations
China Space Mobile Satellite Telecommunications Co. Ltd. (China Spacecom) is planning to open an Iridium gateway earth station. The gateway, which will be located in Beijing, will support Iridium voice and data services throughout China and could be operational by the end of 2007. China Spacecom expects significant demand for Iridium SBD links in water resources management, hydrological monitoring, weather data collection, fishing vessel tracking, heavy machinery automation, environmental protection and other industries, as well as voice and email communications with ships and aircraft on domestic and international routes.
A new telemetry, tracking and command/control (TTAC) earth station will also be opened in Svalbard, Norway. Kongsberg Satellite Services (KSAT), the owner and operator of the KSA Svalbard Satellite station (SvalSat), will provide operations and maintenance support for the site. The station will help to ensure peak performance of Iridium’s fully-meshed network of cross-linked satellites, augment visibility and access to Iridium’s satellite constellation, add to Iridium’s command and control capabilities, and provide remote access to the satellites from Iridium’s existing gateways.
About Iridium Satellite
Iridium Satellite LLC is the only provider of truly global satellite voice and data solutions with complete coverage of the earth (including oceans, airways and Polar Regions). Iridium delivers essential communications services to and from remote areas where no other form of communication is available. The Iridium constellation consists of 66 low-earth orbiting (LEO), cross-linked satellites and has multiple in-orbit spares. The constellation operates as a fully meshed network and is the largest commercial satellite constellation in the world. The Iridium service is ideally suited for industries such as maritime, aviation, government/military, emergency/humanitarian services, mining, forestry, oil and gas, heavy equipment, transportation and utilities. Iridium provides service to the U.S. Department of Defense. The company also designs, builds and sells its services, products and solutions through a worldwide network of more than 150 partners.