Iridium's satellite hotspot promises to bring Wi-Fi to almost every corner of the planet

By on February 6, 2014, 10:36 AM

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.




User Comments: 13

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Guest said:

'but still better than no connectivity at all'

I'm not sure I agree with this...I go to secluded areas for this very reason. :)

Skidmarksdeluxe Skidmarksdeluxe said:

800 bucks... Yeah, right.

psycros psycros said:

The must-have Xmas gift this year for your South American apocalypse survival compound.

Guest said:

Imgaine this in the hands of doctors, help stations, disaster relief & response, etc etc, awesomely cool

lmike6453 said:

Love the idea, dislike the implementation...

20kb/sec --> $800 device PLUS data charges/plan

I don't see anything about lifetime warranty to boast their confidence in it's durability

ikesmasher said:

800 bucks... Yeah, right.

if your work required you be in secluded areas often, theres no reason not to drop $800 once for the convenience. For people like you and me? nah. But for biologists and such...

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Devices (maximum five) within a 100 foot range

Internet speed will be around 20 kilobits per second

You have to shell out around $800 to purchase it

Not so unrealistic if you have 5 parties willing to split the cost in a secluded area without other options.

According to the company, the new fleet of satellites, which are scheduled to be launched in 2015, would provide 1.5Mbps data service.

Especially if after 2015, the bandwidth is increased 75 times its current speeds. My only question is if the current device will support the new fleet of satellites, or if a new device will be needed. I do wonder though if the connection rate is shared or if each connected device has it's own bandwidth at the specified rate. My guess would be the connection is shared, but it wasn't specifically detailed to be.

Please keep in mind this is not for those who would like to remain secluded. This is an option for those who are secluded and wish not to be.

Guest said:

So an interested user needs 800$ to purchase it to have wifi almost anywhere.. maybe greenpeace will find a new battleground because wifi kills plants...

Skidmarksdeluxe Skidmarksdeluxe said:

if your work required you be in secluded areas often, theres no reason not to drop $800 once for the convenience. For people like you and me? nah. But for biologists and such...

Point taken but if that's the case, shouldn't your work foot the bill? Different story if you work for yourself and require something like this. Nonetheless still I feel that's a ridiculous price to pay for something like this.

1 person liked this | Kibaruk Kibaruk, TechSpot Paladin, said:

if your work required you be in secluded areas often, theres no reason not to drop $800 once for the convenience. For people like you and me? nah. But for biologists and such...

Point taken but if that's the case, shouldn't your work foot the bill? Different story if you work for yourself and require something like this. Nonetheless still I feel that's a ridiculous price to pay for something like this.

If my work had to put me in a secluded location, I would make the effort to buy one of these or made the company do so. It's an excellent idea that will only improve with time.

1 person liked this | Skidmarksdeluxe Skidmarksdeluxe said:

If my work had to put me in a secluded location, I would make the effort to buy one of these or made the company do so. It's an excellent idea that will only improve with time.

My thoughts exactly and hopefully prices will drop because 800 big ones is absolutely ridiculous.

VitalyT VitalyT said:

For $800 and 20Kbit speed I would expect a device that offers completely free connectivity without limitations. Anything short of that is a rip-off.

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

My thoughts exactly and hopefully prices will drop because 800 big ones is absolutely ridiculous.
I suppose they could offer a 10K device for $400. Is that not the way it works with manufacturing products?

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