Iridium’s extensive, interconnected ground network provides multiple layers of redundancy and back-up systems for all critical functions to ensure high network reliability.
Iridium’s cross-linked, low-Earth orbit (LEO) satellite constellation is supported by an extensive ground infrastructure that provides terrestrial connections for satellite voice and data calls, as well as network command, control, monitoring, and technical support.
Satellite Network Operating Center (SNOC)
The SNOC is the nerve center of the Iridium space and ground network. The SNOC is connected via a dedicated terrestrial fiber-optic system, comprised of a Multi-Protocol Label Switching (MPLS) cloud and out-of-band satellite links, which directs and carries data to remote antennas and all other ground sites. It provides 24/7 monitoring and control over all network elements, including the satellites, ground sites, and interconnections. The SNOC team conducts trending and performance analyses to ensure Quality of Service (QoS) requirements are met, and produces daily and weekly mission planning and orbit determination reports. The SNOC also provides real time satellite and network engineering support.
The Gateway is the landing point for commercial voice and data traffic via the satellites, providing connections into the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) and the Internet cloud. Network Operators and Engineers constantly monitor the highly sensitive alarm and notification system with a direct, secure link to the SNOC and other ground stations.
The Ground Stations serve as the primary landing points for Iridium OpenPort® communications, and as a backup landing point for commercial traffic, which is back-hauled via dedicated fiber-optic links to the primary gateway for processing. They can also serve as Tracking, Telemetry, and Control (TTAC) sites.
The TTAC sites route satellite health and safety information to the SNOC, provide upload commanding from the SNOC to the satellites, and serve as a delivery mechanism for satellite telemetry of key space network data. They also provide the precise timing signals, which are vital for network operation. In addition, they have Iridium-dedicated tracking and data reception antennas to augment visibility and command of the satellite constellation.
Technical Support Center
The Technical Support Center is managed and staffed by engineering and technical personnel with in-depth understanding of all aspects of the Iridium network. This team provides systems integration testing of network systems and subsystems, service monitoring, and performance analysis, system anomaly response and resolution, system over-the-air testing, software development for satellites and ground infrastructure, Iridium partner product certification support, and other vital technical functions. They have access to on-the-ground, fully functioning Iridium satellites, the Gateway and TTAC subsystem test stations, which are used to test and validate software prior to operational upload to the systems and to analyze and troubleshoot any anomaly detected in the satellite and ground networks.
Ground Network Resiliency and Dedication to Performance
The ground infrastructure provides the following extensive back-up systems to ensure continuity of operations in the event of any subsystem failure or anomaly:
- Iridium has a backup ground command center with robust functionality.
- All ground stations have an uninterruptible power supply that maintains power to critical systems in the event of a failure in commercially supplied power. Each site also has an independent diesel generator capable of sustaining all critical communications and control function over an extended period of time.
- There are redundant fiber loops in place to several different PSTN and Internet carriers to mitigate risk from a failure in any single terrestrial network provider.
- Iridium constantly monitors and analyzes QoS metrics, searching for anomalies or trends that need to be addressed.
- Iridium has a regimented test schedule for all facilities, software, equipment and power systems, ensuring quality control practices and manufacturers’ recommendations are being followed.
- Iridium is upgrading the Gateway and TTAC stations with a state-of-the-art teleport architecture to improve network performance and reliability.
- Iridium is making significant investments in the Gateway and TTAC stations in preparation for supporting the Iridium NEXT system.
Only One Communications Company Connects the Entire Globe
Iridium is the world’s only truly global mobile communications company, with coverage of the entire Earth, including oceans, airways and Polar Regions. Iridium voice and data products provide communications solutions that allow global companies, government agencies and individuals to stay connected, everywhere. The unique Iridium constellation of 66 Low Earth Orbiting (LEO) cross-linked satellites routes communications traffic through space and around the world, creating highly efficient and reliable connections.