Iridium's satellite hotspot promises to bring Wi-Fi to almost every corner of the planet
Ever thought of being able to connect to a Wi-Fi network any and everywhere? Satellite communications company Iridium has developed a portable satellite-based hotspot designed to provide 24x7 connectivity to your handheld devices, no matter where you are on the planet, or so is the promise. But if it sounds too good to be true...
You turn on the hotspot by just lifting up the device's antenna. Devices (maximum five) within a 100 foot range can make calls and access internet via a companion mobile app for iOS and Android. Internet speed will be around 20 kilobits per second -- yes, dial-up speeds are back in town -- which is quite slow but still better than no connectivity at all if you're in secluded territory.
To mitigate speed issues, Iridium plans to offer its own e-mail app which would compress the content and increase data transmission efficiency. "We’re working with app developers to create apps that are maximized to run on our network," said Ashley Eames, a spokeswoman for Iridium. According to the company, the new fleet of satellites, which are scheduled to be launched in 2015, would provide 1.5Mbps data service.
The device is rugged enough to withstand sand, rain, and dust, making it suitable for adventure travel. It also has an SOS mode that gets in touch with emergency services. The device isn't cheap. You have to shell out around $800 to purchase it, while data charges will vary based on the company's airtime plan. The pocket-size device is set to be released in the second quarter this year.
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