Paris Air Show

Iridium adds more satcom initiatives

 - December 13, 2006, 9:43 AM

The Iridium satellite network is the medium for TextLink, a new portable satellite data communications package developed by Paradigm Services that will enable British soldiers on deployment to maintain contact with family and friends.

The facility is just one of several new initiatives that use the constellation to support innovative new communications, said Iridium Satellite executive vice president Don Thoma. El Al Israel Airlines, for example, is equipping seven Boeing 747-200Bs with Sky Connect Classic satellite phones from GayaCom to provide cockpit voice and data communications.

TextLink is intended to provide welfare communications for early-entry troops deployed in areas where no other communication infrastructure is available. It consists of a hardened flight case containing an Iridium 9605 satellite phone and two ruggedized laptop computers. At least two cases are deployed to create a local wireless area network, with one of the laptops connected to one of the satphones and the other laptops deployed for the troops’ use. The second phone provides backup, as well as being available for voice calls.

In Japan, KIDDI Network & Solutions has been authorized to offer mobile phone and data products and services through the network. The service is expected to attract local and governments and companies involved in disaster planning as well as providing a cost-effective platform for asset tracking.

Last week, Iridium announced that Jakarta-based charter operator PT Travira Air is to equip its fleet of helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft with Sky Connect Tracker systems to provide automatic flight following. The operator also plans to use the system for cockpit voice communications when operational requirements dictate a change in routing or during an emergency.