Iridium extends IoT to the outer limits

Iridium
Iridium Edge has already been approved for use in major global markets, including the United States. (Iridium)

While U.S. mobile operators are busy deploying cellular standards-based internet of things technologies on the ground, Iridium Communications is quite literally taking it up a notch, officially launching Iridium Edge, its new IoT play.

Iridium Edge can be used to add satellite connectivity for cellular-based applications or as a fixed location satellite-based monitoring device. And because it’s satellite-based, that means connectivity can be extended to remote regions or countries that previously were harder to access.

The company says Iridium Edge has already been approved for use in major global markets, including the United States, Canada, Europe and Australia, with additional markets in the planning stages.  

“We’ve heard from many partners who are eager to expand their IoT applications to parts of the world where they don’t currently exist, but may not be able to justify the business case to develop that solution themselves,” said Tim Last, vice president and general manager of IoT at Iridium, in a press release. “Iridium Edge has reduced that barrier to adoption and is as easy to integrate as existing cellular solutions on the market today, with one key difference, adding Iridium Edge takes them global.”

And while satellite service has a reputation for being expensive, Last said the cost and development effort of adding satellite to a cellular solution has been reduced.

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The actual device contains an Iridium modem and certified antenna housed within a small waterproof enclosure. Iridium says that due to the unique design of the Iridium constellation—with a network of interconnected satellites creating a web of coverage—Iridium Edge can provide connectivity while avoiding blockage problems commonly associated with other satellite solutions. Blockage mitigation is especially important in mobile terrestrial deployments, as many global fleets operate in various conditions, including mountainous or occluded urban environments, the company said.

Iridium Edge is fully compatible with the original Iridium constellation as well as Iridium’s next-generation constellation, Iridium NEXT.  The new constellation being launched by SpaceX will enable Iridium Certus, the company’s communications platform that will support faster speeds and higher throughputs, delivering low-latency satellite connectivity for tracking, monitoring, data and voice and asset management functions.

There is some precedent for combining terrestrial IoT solutions with satellite. Last year, Inmarsat and Actility announced a partnership that combines Inmarsat’s global L-band satellite connectivity platform with Actility’s ThingPark IoT management platform to deliver an integrated solution for IoT.

In February, Inmarsat announced how its LoRaWAN-based network, developed in partnership with Actility, is delivering on its strategy to bring the IoT to every corner of the globe. Early applications are happening in asset tracking, agribusiness and oil & gas.