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Wednesday, January 16, 2019 

Iridium Communications has announced the commercial launch of its Iridium Certus broadband service, activated from the company’s Iridium NEXT satellite replacement programme.

Iridium Certus claims to be the world’s only truly global broadband service, offering on-the-move internet and high-quality voice access. The service enables mobile office functionality for various applications including ships at sea. This includes safety-of-life services, where Iridium Certus is suited to the critical communications needs of teams operating beyond the reach of cellular coverage. The announcement marks the end of an extensive testing phase.

Iridium Certus enables a suite of applications and on-the-move capabilities with the robustness and reliability of the L-band user network. This includes keeping crews at sea safely connected and maintaining consistent communication, regardless of location.

“The debut of Iridium Certus is the start of a new chapter in the Iridium story, one that is set to catapult us and our partners forward.  At its core, Iridium Certus is an innovation engine for the future. It will enable us to provide broadband connections to teams, vehicles and the important IoT 'things' that are in the 80-plus percent of the world that lacks cellular coverage,” said Iridium CEO Matt Desch. “Adoption of this new service by our partners has already begun, and it has been eagerly anticipated by every target industry. The launch of this service is a huge achievement, and it is already disrupting the status-quo through our smaller, faster, lighter and more cost-effective terminals and service.”

Iridium has estimated the L-band speciality broadband market size to be approximately $700 million today. Prior to the launch of Iridium Certus, the company had an approximately $25 million market share value in high-speed maritime services and looks forward to that growing with this faster and more competitive service.

"Iridium Certus is delivering real-time connections everywhere our vessels go. As a result, shipboard communications, vessel performance systems and the crew themselves are never out of contact. We are now able to upgrade existing broadband terminals to Iridium Certus to ensure we are getting the highest throughput at the best cost on the newest global network," said  Holger Börchers of German shipping company Briese Schiffahrts. "Iridium Certus is a game-changer for us."

Aside from operating on the only truly global satellite constellation, Iridium Certus terminals are smaller in form factor, will offer higher speeds and are more cost-effective than competitive L-band broadband offerings. Maritime terminals are being built by Cobham and Thales, with 36 authorised service providers.

Now that the service is available, mariners will, for the first time, have a more competitive range of choices when evaluating connectivity solutions for vessels of any size, supporting the digitalization of shipping and the autonomous vessel movement. 

Iridium is debuting the service, which will feature a variety of speed classes, with the Certus 350 (352/352 Kbps) offering, which supports capabilities like internet and high-quality voice services to compact terminals. Terminals will be upgradable to the next speed class, Certus 700 (352/704 Kbps), with a firmware update once available. Initial activations of the service occurred in December of 2018 with reported excellent system performance.

Iridium Certus is powered by the low earth orbit Iridium satellite network, comprising 66 crosslinked satellites that create a web of coverage around the entire planet, including the oceans and polar regions.

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