Iridium has the most reliable, truly global mobile voice and data satellite communications network available. The Iridium satellite-based, global wireless communications system has three components: the satellite constellation, the ground network, and subscriber products and solutions, including phones, terminals and a wide range of third-party solutions that include Iridium technology as key components.
An independent study conducted in 2008 reported that “more than 99 percent of calls placed through Iridium handsets were successfully connected compared to 51.3 percent of all calls from a competitor’s handset”.*
Our reach is unparalleled and our service unrivaled.
Designed for Reliability and Security
The Iridium constellation has more satellites than any other commercial constellation. The 66 Iridium satellites are in a near-polar orbit at an altitude of 485 miles (780 km). They fly in formation in six orbital planes, each comprising 11 satellites, evenly spaced around the planet. Each Iridium satellite completely circles the Earth once every 100 minutes, traveling at 16,832 miles per hour, traveling from horizon to horizon across the sky in about ten minutes.
When an Iridium customer places a call or sends data from a handset or terminal, that device connects to the Iridium satellite that happens to be overhead. The traffic is routed among Iridium satellites around the globe to reach the satellite above the Earth gateway, which downlinks the call and transfers it to the global public voice network or the Internet so that it reaches the recipient.
Because the Iridium constellation comprises Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites, voice delays are typically so minimal they are virtually unnoticeable.
Each Iridium satellite is cross-linked to four other satellites – two in the same orbital plane and one in each adjacent plane. These links create a dynamic network in space. Calls are routed among Iridium satellites without touching the ground, creating a reliable connection. Iridium’s satellites are virtually impervious to natural disasters, such as hurricanes, tsunamis and earthquakes, that can damage ground-based wireless towers and terrestrial wires.
Iridium is the only connection available to many parts of the world. Even in urban and suburban environments, Iridium data solutions increasingly provide reliable backup for business communications transmissions.
Global Support and Control
The Iridium ground network comprises the system control segment and gateway that connects into the terrestrial telephone system. The system control segment supplies global operational support and control services for the satellite constellation, delivers satellite tracking data to the gateways, and controls termination of Iridium messaging services. This segment has three components – four telemetry tracking and command/control (TTAC) stations, the operational support network, and the satellite network operation center (SNOC). Feeder links and cross-links throughout the satellite constellation supply the connections among the system control segment, the satellites and the gateway.
Gateways house ground-based antennas and electronics that provide voice and data services, messaging, prepaid and postpaid billing services, and other customer services. They are responsible for supporting and managing mobile subscribers and for interconnecting the Iridium network to the terrestrial phone system.
Wide range of products and solutions
Application and Report Reference
Iridium services are provided through a wide range of products and solutions – including satellite phones, terminals and partner solutions that integrate Iridium technology, and are tailored to specific requirements in the maritime, aviation and land/mobile markets. Iridium has customers in various sectors, including maritime, aeronautical, government/defense, public safety, utilities, oil/gas, mining, forestry, heavy equipment and transportation.
* Frost & Sullivan, 2008. Study commissioned by Iridium.