Iridium handheld telephones are capable of delivering high-quality voice, facsimile, and data services anywhere on Earth. Iridium single-mode handsets are designed to provide satellite communications around the world through the Iridium constellation.
The satellite-based Iridium system tracks the location of the telephone, and provides global transmission, even if the subscriber’s location is unknown. Iridium handsets are similar in design, weight, battery lifetime and dimensions to popular hand-held phones. In dual-mode they’re also GSM cellular phones, and can operate in every place where GSM networks are available. Their digital technology allows for maximum clarity and signal quality. A SIM (subscriber identity module) card provides basic Iridium system access, personalized features, and enhanced security. The SIM card prevents the phone from being used without a valid card and proper PIN (personal identification number).
Thanks to a standard RS232 or USB interface port built into each IRIDIUM handset, data and facsimile transmissions are also possible. The former Iridium provided phones from two vendors, Kyocera and Motorola.
The Motorola 9500 phone is a design from the first commercial phase of Iridium, whereas the 9575 model is the current version of the handset and was released in 2011. Until the release of the 9555 in 2008, the 9505A was the sole handset sold by the company – a functionally identical clone of the Motorola 9505 with some slightly different components. In 2011, a highly durable Iridium Extreme (9575) phone was introduced with a built-in GPS emergency button and interface to advanced location-based services.
An accessory was also introduced at the same time called Iridium Axcesspoint which, when connected to a 9555 or Extreme phone, creates a wi-fi hotspot for smartphone email, SMS and web connections.
Kyocera phone models SS-66K and SD-66K are no longer in production but still available in the second-hand and surplus market. The KI-G100 phone is a small 900 MHz GSM phone that fitted in a cradle (model number SD-66K) that included a large antenna and facilitated connection to the Iridium network. The SS-66K is a self-contained phone, but features a rather unusual ball antenna.
All handsets can receive SMS, but only the 9505, 9505A, 9555, Extreme and those based on the 9522 can send them.
- Iridium Extreme (9575) — A jet-water, shock and dust resistant (IP65), as well as GPS enabled handset, operating temperature -15 – +35 °C, launched in September 2011.
- Iridium 9555 — A satellite handset with integrated speakerphone and hands-free capability, launched in late 2008. USB data interface with a USB-to-RS-232 bridge chip.
- Iridium 9505A — Large brick shaped satellite handset manufactured from 2002 to 2008 by the second corporate incarnation of Iridium. Externally almost identical to the original Motorola 9505. Native RS-232 data interface with proprietary pinout adapter.
- Motorola 9505 — Large brick shaped handset manufactured from 1999 to 2002 by the first corporate incarnation of Iridium. Native RS-232 data interface with proprietary pinout adapter.
- Kyocera SS-66K — Manufactured in very small numbers by Kyocera in 1998-1999 for the first Iridium corporation, very large handset. Can occasionally be found for sale on eBay.
Mobile Telephone Unit
Mobile telephone units provide in-vehicle access to IRIDIUM services. These units will be useful for automobile travellers who need to travel from country to country without losing connection to the world.
Where compatible terrestrial cellular service exists the IRIDIUM system can use the local network. Otherwise it uses the satellite network giving you access to global communications in every place of the world.
BEAM RST UNIT
The new RST-100, provides remote locations with telecommunications access via the Iridium satellite system ensuring truly global coverage. Suitable for both maritime and land applications, the RST also offers several interfaces for both voice and data.
Basically, the RST-100 emulates the functionality of the Public Telephone service. It provides sockets for the user to connect a conventional handset, answering machine or PC, a socket for the connection of a plug-pack type mains power supply and a connection to an external antenna.
In addition there are two serial interfaces for PC connections and bi-directional SMS (subject to network support).
Aeronautical IRIDIUM services provide personal communication services to travellers on commercial and business aircraft.
Voice, facsimile, paging and data services are available through compact and lightweight IRIDIUM units. These units are designed to complement the existing aeronautical communications system and to offer passengers convenient global access to telecommunications.
Iridium aeronautical radio products are expected to have substantial advantages – including size, weight and cost – over existing satellite communications equipment for aircraft.
In aircraft, where every gram must be carefully considered and space is at a premium, size and weight are serious issues. Current aeronautical terminals require high power levels and a large steerable antenna to support voice and high-speed data communications. In additions, they may weigh almost as much as a passenger, more than 70 kg., and take up as much space.
Iridium aeronautical system, by contrast, employs a small, non-steerable, low-gain antenna. In addition, the total weight of the equipment – terminal, antenna and wiring – needed to outfit an airplane with Iridium aeronautical system would be about a quarter of what is required for existing systems.
Geoborders.com (n.d.). Iridium satellite technology, theory and frequency bands. Retrieved June 01, 2016, from https://geoborders.com/iridium/en/iridium.htm
Iridium Communications. (n.d.). Retrieved June 03, 2016, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iridium_Communications