Leading satellite communications manufacturer Iridium is launching the first satellite-connected WiFi hotspot in the coming months, giving travelers of the boondocks connectivity on their existing smartphones, laptops, and other connected devices, that terrestrial wireless networks can’t provide.
Iridium builds and sells the top-rated satellite phones in the world, and maintains the broadest communications satellite constellation in the sky, so there’s no question about reliability. The company currently has 66 active satellites orbiting the Earth.
The GO! hotspot can provide data access to 5 devices simultaneously, which includes voice calls, text messages, email access, social networking, GPS tracking, and SOS alerts. Iridium has an iOS app and Android app that facilitates most of these activities. It’s unclear from the press material currently available if users will be able to communicate with their current phone number, but it sounds that way.
As for pricing and availability: the Iridium GO! will be available in the coming months (“first half of 2014″) and will cost “less than $800″ for the device itself. Monthly service pricing is said to start at $35, but there’s no information yet about how much data allowance you should expect for that price, or the kinds of bandwidth speeds you’ll see. Typically, satellite throughput is much less than wire-line networks, so don’t expect to be streaming Netflix from the middle of the Amazon.
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