Press Release Summary:
Iridium OpenPort(TM) marine satellite communication service offers 3 independent telephone circuits which can be used simultaneously without interference, as well as user-selectable range of data speeds from 9.6-128 kbps. Data rates can easily be adjusted up or down at any time without making hardware or software changes, enabling users to adjust speed of data transmission. Service is suited for ship-to-shore crew calling, email, and IP-based data communications.
Original Press Release:
Iridium OpenPort(TM) on Track for Commercial Availability
Offers Competitive Alternative for Maritime Broadband Service
BETHESDA, Md. - Sept. 25, 2008 - Iridium announces that Iridium OpenPort(TM), the company's new enhanced-bandwidth marine satellite communication service is nearing completion of sea trials and is on track for full commercial availability in October. Iridium OpenPort offers a competitive alternative to other marine satellite services that are higher cost with fewer features.
"We have been conducting at-sea beta tests of Iridium OpenPort terminals on a number of different ships with excellent results," said Don Thoma, executive vice president of Marketing for Iridium. "We are now gearing up for production deliveries of Iridium OpenPort units to meet the demand for more than 4,000 orders received since we announced the new system earlier this year."
Peter Dahle Schiffahrts-KG, a beta customer for Iridium OpenPort under an agreement with Vizada, an Iridium service provider, has installed a test unit aboard a 1600 TEU ocean-going vessel. Michael Dittmer, fleet IT and communication coordinator for Peter Dahle, identified three aspects which led to his interest in Iridium OpenPort - the antenna array has no moving parts, Iridium offers worldwide connectivity, and the service has low hardware costs.
"Our main objective is to centralize all IT applications and software on the boat in order to simplify administration, help maintain the vessels and better manage systems on board ... this is something we believe Iridium OpenPort can help us achieve," Dittmer said.
Dittmer also noted the impact that Iridium OpenPort could have on shipping routes through Region A4.
"The Iridium satellite constellation provides a very high level of reliability in the sense that they really cover the whole globe - with the opening of the Northwest Passage, a region uncovered by other operators, Iridium OpenPort provides the right combination of redundancy, bandwidth and full global coverage," Dittmer said.
"We were favorably impressed with the results of beta tests of the Iridium OpenPort," said a spokesman for Zodiac Shipping Agencies Ltd., another beta customer. "Voice quality was uniformly excellent, and data throughput has met our expectations. We believe Iridium OpenPort will be a very cost-effective solution for ship's business, crew calling and e-mail."
Zodiac, which manages a fleet of 125 ships, was one of the first shipping companies to sign up for Iridium OpenPort under an agreement with AND Group, an Iridium service provider.
To date, 11 of Iridium's largest mobile satellite service (MSS) partners are preparing to distribute Iridium OpenPort. They include AND Group, Applied Satellite Technology, Becker Marine Systems Communication, Globe Wireless, MVS, Otesat Maritel, Satcom Group, Seamobile Europe Geolink Satellite Services, Stratos, Telaurus and Vizada. In most cases, these service partners are integrating Iridium OpenPort with their own hardware and software products to provide a suite of customer-focused voice and IP-based data packages for ship's business and crew calling.
"Iridium OpenPort offers a unique value proposition of multiple phone circuits, IP connectivity and scalable data speeds up to 128 kilobits per second (kbps) with low equipment and airtime costs," said Thoma. "Packaged with Iridium's gap-free global coverage and unmatched network quality, Iridium OpenPort is an unbeatable combination that is creating a new competitive dynamic in the marine satcom market."
Iridium OpenPort offers three independent telephone circuits, which can be used simultaneously without interference, as well as a user-selectable range of data speeds from 9.6 to 128 kbps to meet ships' requirements. Data rates can easily be adjusted up or down at any time without making hardware or software changes, giving the user options that allow them to balance needs for speed of data transmission against cost considerations on a real-time basis.
"The installed cost of an Iridium OpenPort terminal is much lower than competing marine satcom systems, and our per-megabyte prices for data also are substantially lower than other marine satcom services on the market today," said Thoma. "This means a return on investment measured in months rather than years."
"Iridium OpenPort is an enabling technology that will permit service providers to offer a complete integrated solution for ship-to-shore crew calling, e-mail and IP-based data communications," added Thoma. "Our pricing strategy replaces expensive pay-per-minute billing schemes with a straightforward, cost-effective pay-per-megabyte plan for data throughput."
About Iridium Satellite
Iridium Satellite LLC (www.iridium.com) is the only MSS company offering gap-free, pole-to-pole coverage over the entire globe. The Iridium constellation of low-earth orbiting (LEO), cross-linked satellites provides critical voice and data services for areas not served by other communication networks. Iridium's subscriber growth has been driven by increasing demand for reliable, secure, global communications. Iridium serves commercial markets through a worldwide network of hundreds of distributors, and provides services to the U.S. Department of Defense, and other U.S. and international government agencies. The company's customers represent a broad spectrum of industry, including maritime, aeronautical, government/defense, public safety, utilities, oil/gas, mining, forestry, heavy equipment and transportation. Iridium has launched a major development program for its next-generation satellite constellation, Iridium NEXT, which will result in continued and new Iridium MSS offerings. The company is headquartered in Bethesda, Md. and is privately held.