Iridium Communications Inc. (Nasdaq: IRDM) and KVH Industries, Inc., (Nasdaq: KVHI) have agreed to offer what the pair is touting as the first-ever, fully global, seamless broadband satellite communications service for the maritime market. Under the agreement, KVH will offer an integrated service package that combines its mini-VSAT BroadbandSM service and the Iridium OpenPort broadband service.
“We are enthusiastic that KVH is our first distribution partner to launch Iridium’s new VSAT companion service offering,” said Greg Ewert, executive vice president, global distribution channels, Iridium. “We have optimized the Iridium OpenPort system to seamlessly integrate with a vessel’s VSAT platform. The VSAT/Iridium solution eliminates the coverage gaps, data-rate limitations and comparatively high prices of other L-band mobile satellite service providers.”
The integrated shipboard system will use common below-deck user interface equipment for voice and data connections, combining the Iridium OpenPort and KVH TracPhone V3 or V7 terminals. KVH’s CommBox shipboard network management tool automatically selects the mini-VSAT Broadband service or the Iridium OpenPort service using intelligent least-cost routing software. If mini-VSAT Broadband service is ever unavailable, the system immediately switches over to the Iridium OpenPort service without operator intervention. The Iridium OpenPort connection can also serve as a means to access the mini-VSAT Broadband terminal remotely as well as other shipboard maintenance and calibration equipment.
“KVH already has the largest Ku band VSAT global coverage offering, and the addition of Iridium now adds even remote regions such as the polar areas,” said Brent Bruun, KVH senior vice president of global sales and business development. “The integrated system offers our customers an unbeatable combination of reliable, affordable broadband shipboard communications and seamless global connectivity. The lightweight, compact antenna units bring the benefits of low-cost broadband communications to both private yachts and fishing vessels as small as 30 ft (9 m) as well as large, ocean-going merchant ships.”
KVH’s TracPhone V3 and V7 platforms, based on KVH’s RingFire technology, offer robust and reliable download speeds up to 2 Mbps and clear voice connections through the world’s smallest stabilized VSAT antenna. Combined with Iridium OpenPort’s proven reliability and global coverage, it delivers a best-in-class communications solution. Ewert noted that the integrated maritime service will be fully supported by Iridium’s next-generation satellite constellation, which is scheduled to be deployed starting in early 2015.
“The Iridium NEXT design ensures backward compatibility for all earlier generation user equipment, and subscribers can be confident that their investment is secure and will not face obsolescence in the future,” Ewert said.