Iridium incorporates Wi-Fi in new satellite offerings

Mobile satellite operator Iridium is getting with the times. The company announced its vision for the future of personal mobile satellite communications, which includes more accessible and cost-effective satellite technology so that its partners can develop a wider range of Iridium-based products and services. Part of the strategy includes incorporating Wi-Fi technology.

Iridium announced it is introducing new products and services that will enable Wi-Fi-equipped smartphones, tablets and laptops to connect to the Iridium global network.

The Iridium AxcessPoint is a Wi-Fi hotspot accessory that connects BlackBerry and Android devices to the network using an Iridium Extreme or Iridium 9555 satellite phone. Users of the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch devices, and Windows and Mac laptops will need to download the new, free Iridium AxcessPoint Mail & Web application. Iridium AxcessPoint is expected to be available in fourth quarter of 2011 with a suggested retail price of less than $200.

Those Iridium phone users traveling with laptops will be able to use the Iridium AxcessPoint Connect downloadable application for use with the Iridium Direct Internet software connectivity tool that turns any Windows laptops into a global Wi-Fi hotspot when connected to an Iridium Extreme or Iridium 9555 satellite phone, which in turn allows other Wi-Fi-enabled devices to access that hotspot.Standard airtime charges apply.

Iridium is also integrating GPS location-based services. Via its Iridium Tracking Portals, customers can now access location monitoring, messaging and safety tools. Iridium said more than 17 of its partners are creating customized online tracking portals using Iridium's open software platform. Portal features include tracking an Iridium Extreme user's real-time status and location, zooming to street level via online maps, scheduling regular check-ins, providing emergency services, "geo-fencing," and sending free-form, canned and social networking messages.

For more:
- see this release

Related articles:
Novatel says LTE MiFi now the category leader
Hotspot 2.0: Bringing Wi-Fi traffic into the carrier's mobile network
Wi-Fi hotspots are a growing threat to 3G data revenues