Satellite

Iridium Certus is changing the world

It is the only network able to provide a connection anywhere on the planet, through voice, text, and data – even in the polar regions.

Iridium Certus will greatly benefit almost all businesses and operations, so here’s everything you need to know about the latest, most advanced satellite device on the market.

What is Iridium Certus?  

Iridium Certus is a multi-service platform enabled by Iridium NEXT, the $3 billion satellite constellation of 66 low orbit satellites. It is the only truly global mobile satellite service on the planet and offers the highest speed connectivity available.

Powered by Iridium NEXT, Iridium Certus does not rely on ground-based infrastructure, allowing connections to travel above the earth’s surface uninterrupted – regardless of weather or terrain. This is what enables Iridium Certus to provide greater reach and speed than any other wireless mobile network. Through a range of accessories, IoT products, satellite phones and more, Iridium Certus will keep you connected anywhere on the planet.

For the first time, one terminal can deliver a range of services, from multiple high-quality voice calls to the highest L-band connection available. The previous generation of Iridium satellites provided communication speeds of up to 128bps, while the upgraded Iridium Certus offers 700bps, with 1.4Mbps to be available soon.

While this may not sound very fast in a world where 5G continues to spread, this is astoundingly fast for a satellite, and will be plenty for the applications required.

But how will Iridium Certus be integrated into the worlds of business, government, and the individual?

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A diverse range of applications will utilise Iridium Certus. Its support of broadband, narrowband voice, and data capabilities makes it indispensable to a scope of industries, including maritime, land mobile, aviation, the government, and IoT.

Maritime:

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Iridium Certus offers the maritime industry a solution to the problems it has faced for years, as mariners have struggled to maintain connectivity at sea due to remote locations and bad weather.

Iridium Certus’ L-band frequency means that sailors will be connected anywhere on the seas, and weather will never influence the quality of the connection. The Iridium network therefore offers countless advantages to business operations, safety services, IoT applications, and crew welfare, as services range from navigational devices to simply using the web.

For example, the reliable Certus network is ideal for fishing ships handling catch information, monitoring weather, or communicating across fleets in the region. Workboats will never ‘go dark’ again, while Government ships such as research vessels have access to low latency communications. This is possible because communications travel above the earth, allowing for consistent bandwidth anywhere across the globe.

In terms of IoT, the Iridium network coupled with its L-Band architecture means that rigs, buoys, and both attended and autonomous platforms can be connected and tied into a corporate network that is robust and reliable.

Iridium Certus occupies the leading market position for stand-alone and VSAT companion use. Vessels that already use VSAT can augment their existing platform with global Iridium Certus coverage, creating an ideal hybrid solution that combines the benefits of low earth orbit with geostationary orbit, as well as the benefits of L-band and Ku-band.

On a more simple level, leisure sailors will find it easier than ever before to stay connected while on the seas, with guaranteed and uninterrupted voice calls, texts, or data suitable for browsing the web or sending emails.

Land Mobile:

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The Certus network enables users to extend their mobile use into remote areas where usual mobile networks cannot reach, while avoiding expensive ground-based infrastructure.

This is useful in a plethora of ways; through providing remote transportation with information; enabling the military with dependable communications during training or special operations; allowing scientists in isolated areas (such as the poles) to exchange information; and enabling immediate broadcasting in remote locations.

Perhaps most importantly, Iridium Certus offers a global solution to aide disaster response. Local infrastructure is often damaged when disasters such as earthquakes, tsunamis, or hurricanes strike. Iridium Certus provides reliable coordination and information access beyond terrestrial communications, which is vital to first responders who must be able to act quickly.

Iridium also offers hybrid solutions to enhance 5G, 4G, or 3G connectivity. Terrestrial networks cover less than 20% of the earth, and Iridium Certus will ensure that communications are never disrupted as individuals who travel or work in remote locations move in and out of cellular coverage.

Aviation:

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Building upon Iridium’s established voice and data satellite services, Iridium Certus adds a high performance broadband service that connects the entire aircraft, keeping crew and passengers alike connected through email, internet, voice, and data.

Iridium Certus has also introduced Aireon, the first ever global flight-surveillance system. Iridium NEXT is the only satellite constellation with the capability and reach to enable global air traffic surveillance, all thanks to its orbital configuration.

The low earth orbit altitude allows aircraft signals to be received without any changes to the aircraft or additional equipment. This will enable real-time delivery of information to Air Traffic Control. If such a system had existed in 2014, the Malaysian Airlines flight 370 would not have disappeared.

On a commercial level, airlines will be capable of offering its passengers high speed broadband to aircrafts of any size. With easily applicable, low-weight antennas, air-travel will be safer, more efficient, and more enjoyable than ever.

US Government:

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The Iridium constellation is invaluable to US government operations, demonstrated by the support shown by the Pentagon in 2000. The costs of the Iridium NEXT constellation almost caused the company to go bankrupt, but the Pentagon prevented this with a $72 million two-year contract to serve its 20,000 US government users. With the updated Iridium NEXT constellation, the network will continue to aid the government in unprecedented ways.

Iridium Certus can help mobilise and monitor personnel, data, and assets on the ground, even when they are beyond the reach of terrestrial networks. It offers reliable, robust, real-time voice and data command and control communications required for military, scientific, and research operations.

Iridium Certus provides a secure solution that supports the mission-critical requirements of the military, including hardware that is capable of withstanding high-risk combat zones and turbulent weather.

Internet of Things:

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Iridium has partnered with Amazon Web Services to develop Iridium CloudConnect, which aims to be the first and only satellite cloud-based solution offering truly global coverage for Internet of Things applications later in 2019.

Iridium CloudConnect will lower costs, provide faster speeds to market, reduce risk, and allow customers to enjoy complete global connectivity for their solutions.

Matt Desch, Iridium CEO, expects CloudConnect to cater at first to large products, such as cargo ships or agricultural equipment, but will move to smaller and smaller vehicles, such as drones.

Any IoT device connected through the Iridium network will speak natively with Amazon’s cloud-based server and user interfaces, allowing end-to-end data transmission that is wider-reaching, cheaper, and faster than ever before.

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Together with its ecosystem of partner companies, Iridium offers truly global communication for the first time ever.

It is hard to imagine an area of business, government work, or personal life in which Iridium Certus could not be utilised. Iridium’s vision of connecting the entire planet is slowly coming to fruition, and the benefits to be had are endless.

Hints & Tips, Travel, UK News, US News

Everything you need to know about 5G

5G is finally here. After months of intense build up, the fifth generation of mobile networks is starting to be rolled out, bringing with it promises of faster connectivity, more reliability and lower internet congestion. The 5G network follows previous generations of 2G, 3G and, most recently, 4G.

If you’ve been eagerly awaiting the launch of the network, here are a few questions you might want answering before you take the 5G plunge.

What is 5G?

5G is the fifth generation of mobile network connectivity. It is the successor to the current broadband connection, 4G, and will transform internet connectivity forever. 5G will make everything faster; data transfers, uploads speeds, download speeds, and will enable more stable connections with wider coverage. Not only will it be faster than ever before, it will be able to send more information between devices, meaning faster response times and a reduction in latency.

For users, 5G will do everything that 3G and 4G enabled you to do; browse, share, watch and stream, however it will also open up a whole new world of opportunities, including transformational growth with IoT, AR and AI capabilities. The hyper-connectivity that 5G brings between smart devices and machines will result in intelligent new processes that have never been possible before now.

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How fast is 5G?

5G is fast. Faster than fast. In fact, probably the only connotation that comes to mind when you hear 5G, is the word fast. It’s grabbing headlines due to its likely speeds expected to reach in excess of 1Gb/s and projected speeds for the future could see speeds of 10Gb/s, which is 100 times faster than 4G.

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To put into perspective how fast that actually is, currently your average HD film may take a day to download with 3G coverage and around 10 minutes on 4G. If on 5G, the same film will be downloaded is around 5 seconds. That’s a whole lot of film watching!

How does 5G work?

Alike to its predecessors, 5G will carry communications wirelessly over the air via radio frequencies. 5G uses an advanced radio frequency to transfer data faster and more efficiently. The radio frequencies are higher and shorter, meaning less congesting internet traffic and more available bandwidth for the information to be sent.

Although these higher bands are faster than previously seen, they are less well suited to carry information over long distances because of their shorter wavelengths. The frequency can also be blocked by physical objects such as building and trees, so you might see clusters of smaller masts closer together in order to boost capacity between single standalone masts.

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Before 5G, MIMO (multiple-input/multiple-output) technology was used to send and receive data signals between several antennas simultaneously. 5G upgrades this digital technology to Massive MIMO, meaning that rather than just a handful of antennas sharing information, now a few hundred will be. Algorithms for Massive MIMO are able to plot the best transmission route through the air to each user. For users, this means 5G can serve multiple users and multiple devices simultaneously, while still maintaining speed and consistency.

How is 5G different to 4G?

It’s a common misconception that 5G is just a faster version of 4G. Yes, it is faster than 4G and it is an improvement of 4G, but 5G isn’t just a step up from its forerunner, like 4G was to 3G. 5G will be the driving force for a digital revolution.

Each generation prior to 5G has brought its own benefits. 2G connectivity saw the birth of basic internet, texts and MMS. 3G upgraded to better internet, streaming and basic video calling. 4G was a game changer and made speeds up to 500 times faster than 3G, allowing for outside speeds to compete with home broadband. 4G brought high-quality video calling, supported HD TV on mobile, and super-fast mobile browsing. All of which were essential as the proliferation of smartphones and tablets evolved from what once came before.

5G is almost compulsory as the world now paves the way for a new era of technology and creates new economic opportunity; including IoT, augmented reality, artificial intelligence and autonomous machines. 5G has been referred to as “the network of networks”, and will be encoded into technologies ‘DNA’ for both business and in the home. Less interference and better efficiency that comes with 5G will support the introduction of smart cities, and a smart world.

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What will 5G enable us to do?

5G will enable us to do everything we do now, only faster, smarter and more efficiently. Day to day, 5G will allow for clearer calling with less background noise, while making and receiving calls and using data won’t interrupt download speeds, and there will be less pixelation and buffering when making video calls. Using 5G at home and out and about will keep you connected instantly, as it’s expected to be faster than most fixed line broadband.

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For consumers, imagine smart homes and smart work spaces. Alike to when you unlock your car with central locking, imagine unlocking your house without a physical key. Once inside, a smart home can have your lights already turned on and is already at your desired temperature. Moving from room to room will turn more lights on and switch off the rooms you’ve left. Currently, ownership of smart home devices, which are examples of IoT devices embedded with sensors and other electronics to send and receive data over a network, has doubled since 2016. A statistic which is likely to increase with the advantage of IoT.

How will 5G reduce latency?

One of the key differentiators between 5G and its predecessors is the reduction in latency. For those that are unaware of what latency is, it’s the time it takes devices to communicate wirelessly with each other; it’s the time taken for data to reach its destination via the network and back again (such as a text message from one phone to another and the sender receiving a Delivered notification). Whilst your device is transferring data, latency is the measure of delay, measured in milliseconds.

Online, latency is seen as responsiveness. For example, how long a web page takes to load. Latency occurs when the devices are on a slow network and the bandwidth capacity cannot support the large transfer of data being sent.

With the speeds, bandwidth, and capacity that 5G brings, these issues are now a thing of the past. 5G will increase the rate in which data can be transferred and cuts down the response time to 1-10 milliseconds (the time on 4G was 30-50 milliseconds). This means you can expect lightning fast connectivity and responsiveness, without any lag time. This will be imperative for mission critical services as they rely on network connectivity to transfer data.

What will 5G mean for businesses?       

For business, 5G will fuel the growth in certain industries by unlocking business potential. Expect to see automated factories, remote health care and autonomous vehicles. Expect faster downloads and better connectivity, and see a rise of IoT, AR and AI as 5G aims to power the rise.

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5G will change advance offerings from communication service providers; 4G rearranged the landscape with data packages outweighing voice and SMS, and now 5G will change the game again as providers can offer more cost-efficient services (10x lower cost per gigabyte than current 4G).

With 5G comes ‘network slicing’, where operators will be able to slice the 5G network to allocate capacity matching specific requirements. This is a game changer for network management and demonstrates the adaptiveness of 5G. Consumers downloading films, IoT devices transferring data and automonmous cars will each have different network requirements, the latter needing enough to enable responsiveness and little latency.

Businesses will be able to rent a 5G slice for their requirements, which will be an isolated network connection without any surrounding congestion.

5G and IoT

IoT in business has been gradually growing over the past few years, with businesses of all sizes seeing the benefits it can bring. With 5G this will only accelerate, as the new fifth generation network will help collect and transfer huge amounts of data in an efficient, responsive and high-speed way.

5G will set itself aside from previous networks in IoT, as current wireless infrastructure hasn’t got the capacity to accommodate the mass of devices exchanging information, without slight lags. 5G will provide the infrastructure needed to carry huge amounts of data and will support the devices that demand internet access, as many require a higher bandwidth to cope.

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Has 5G already been rolled out?

Most countries can expect to have access to 5G by 2020, however some networks across the globe have already made 5G commercially available. In the UK, EE was the first network to make 5G available in 5 UK cites. Vodafone has also rolled out its 5G network in 7 UK cities. Both networks have plans to have more cities connected by the end of 2019. In the US, Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint has all made 5G available in certain parts of the country.

Further afield, in South Korea, SK Telecom and KT have each rolled out 5G, along with Ooredoo in Qatar.

Does 5G mean the end of fixed line services?

5G is said to be as fast and as reliable as fixed line services, including home broadband, leading some to wonder whether ending fixed-line contracts is the best move. Many will still prefer the stability and certainty of physical wires, however good wireless connectivity becomes.

5G, as it continues to be rolled out, will aim to be a complementary service for users when out and about rather than a replacement to fixed line. This is likely as as many telecoms companies have spent years investing in fibre optic and copper wire fixed line broadband and would be reluctant to switch to wireless as soon as it’s available. Those wanting to ditch their fixed line should also consider the stability of the connection as full-fibre services will beat 5G as it stands, as it connects to the mobile mast without dropping signal strength when a bus or lorry becomes an obstacle to 5G waves.

It’s likely that domestic and office broadband will stick with being primarily fixed line for the upcoming years, although fixed wireless access may be made available when needed.