Iridium GO!

Satellite operator Iridium is calling its new Iridium Go Exec device a “satellite access companion.” The device is designed to act more like a Wi-Fi hotspot in comparison with the previous generation device called simply Iridium Go. The new device is also more compact and connects more quickly, according to Iridium.

End users will be able to use up to four smartphones and other Wi-Fi devices simultaneously with the device, which is available for sale now. Importantly, users will also be able to use many of the apps that they are accustomed to using on those devices.

“People want to connect to their own messaging, transactional and smartphone apps on an IP connection,” said Bryan Hartin, Iridium executive vice president of sales and marketing, on a webcall announcement event for the Iridium Go Exec.

The Iridium Go Exec has the first touchscreen that Iridium has offered, enabling it to function in a manner similar to that of a smartphone.

The device connects to the internet in approximately two seconds, in comparison with the 45 seconds that would have been required previously. A one-megabyte photo can be uploaded in six minutes and downloaded in 90 seconds, Iridium said.

This performance is a 40-fold improvement on downloads and a 10-fold improvement on uploads, according to the company.

Hartin noted, however, that the Iridum Go Exec is not meant to replace the Iridium Go, which, he said, will be “around for a long time.”

The Iridium Go Exec is supported by low-earth orbit (LEO) satellites, which have less latency in comparison with traditional geostationary satellites.

The product launch comes at a time when several smartphone manufacturers and wireless carriers have announced availability of or plans for smartphone connectivity via satellite. T-Mobile has a deal with SpaceX to add the ability to send text messages via a smartphone-to-satellite connection and Apple has a deal with Globalstar that supports smartphone-to-satellite connectivity for emergency communications on the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14s.

Iridium also has its own deal with Qualcomm to support satellite messaging for smartphones.

The Iridium Go Exec has a considerably broader range of functionality in comparison with the smartphone-to-satellite offerings, but it doesn’t come cheap.

Iridium executives on today’s announcement webcall deferred questions about pricing to companies that sell the service to end users and advised interested parties to do a Google search about that. Telecompetitor’s Google search turned up monthly prices in the range of $150 to $160 per month, but prices may vary depending on usage.

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