The Iridium satellite constellation is a large group of satellites used to provide voice and data coverage to satellite phones, pagers and integrated transceivers.
The system uses 66 satellites in low Earth orbit (LEO) and is the only satellite network for portable communications with global coverage, even over the poles!
Iridium itself produces only three different products:
- Handheld satellite phone
- Fixed-mount marine satellite terminal for voice and data traffic up to 128 kpbs
- Data modem
The hand-held satellite phones have been produced in various models since the late 1990s. The first model was called 9500 and was followed by models 9505 and 9505A.Today Iridium manufactures model 9555.
The fixed marine terminal is called OpenPort and hit the market in 2008 and is currently deployed in a large number of vessels worldwide.
There are two kinds of data modem types; SBD modem and LBT modem.
SBD stands for Short Burst Data and uses small data packets to send information.
LBT stands for L-band transceiver, and is basically a copy of the handheld Iridium 9555 with the difference that there is no keypad or display.
The similarity with these two types of modems is that they are used to send different kinds of data messages, such as information on location, temperature, wind speed, or just about anything you want to monitor or measure. The difference is that the modem with an LBT modem also is been able to make voice calls which you cannot do with a SBD modem.
In addition to these three products, there are a variety of other products, but it is not Iridium itself that manufactures them. Instead they have outsourced product development of third party manufacturers who are free to develop solutions that must be approved by Iridium.
Some of these solutions can be found on our Accessories page.