Iridium explores LPGAN tech for space-based IoT

space (Pixabay)
Iridium says its IoT business is currently the company's fastest growing line of business.

Iridium Communications has signed a deal with Magnitude Space, an emerging small satellite company, signaling Iridium's interest in exploring collaborative partnerships with players in the small satellite low-power arena.

As part of the Memo of Understanding (MoU), the companies will begin discussions on how to collaboratively expand opportunities for space-based IoT services with the development of reliable, Low-Power Global-Area Network (LPGAN) technologies.

"We envision a future where numerous diverse satellite architectures interwork to support the dramatically expanding IoT universe," said Iridium CEO Matt Desch, in a press release. "From high bandwidth access points to highly mobile and low latency devices like Iridium supports today, to low power, higher latency networks like Magnitude Space envisions, Iridium has the experience and global platform to enable all of these capabilities to interwork."

Magnitude Space, headquartered in Amsterdam, is planning to build a network of 18-24 small satellites that will deliver LPGAN connectivity to remote areas of the world. From monitoring plantation soil moisture levels to tracking livestock, Magnitude Space's technology will be offered up as a cost-effective, reliable option for companies in need of very low-power, low-cost, monitoring and tracking options that require longer life battery and infrequent non-real-time messaging solutions.

"We are excited to begin exploring how we can work with and benefit from a cooperation with Iridium. They are arguably the first successful NewSpace player, and have made LEO their successful home when others said it couldn't be done," said Ernst Peter Hovinga, CEO of Magnitude Space. "As we evolve as a company, we feel that Iridium is an ideal partner for us. They set the standard for low earth satellite network operations, and support a vast distribution and technology partner ecosystem for satellite IoT customers.”

Magnitude Space plans to commercially launch in the second quarter of 2018 and believes it will be the first to market with such a service offering.

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Earlier this year, Iridium launched Iridium Edge, which it described as a cost-effective global asset tracking, safety and fleet management device, enabling companies of all sizes to rapidly expand their IoT applications beyond cellular coverage. Iridium Edge can be used to add satellite connectivity for cellular-based applications or as a fixed location satellite-based monitoring device.

Iridium says its IoT business is currently the company's fastest growing line of business, which saw commercial IoT data subscribers increase 20% year-over-year in the second quarter of 2017.

Iridium is in the process of launching its next-generation constellation, Iridium NEXT, which will enable Iridium Certus. For Iridium IoT services, Iridium Certus will support faster speeds and higher throughputs, delivering an enhanced version of the low latency satellite connectivity it provides today.