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Global Broadband Service Goes Live For On-Orbit Satellite Testing
October 6, 2017

Iridium Communications Inc. recently announced that it has begun live testing of the Iridium Certus service on operational Iridium NEXT satellites. Iridium Certus will be Iridium’s new, truly global broadband service, offering safety and critical L-band communications connectivity through the Iridium® NEXT satellite constellation. Graduating from laboratory-based tests, Iridium Certus on-orbit testing is a major milestone along the path towards introducing commercial service, currently scheduled for early second quarter, 2018.

Beginning on September 25, 2017, the testing and validation process has involved uploading and activating software to the Iridium NEXT satellites already in orbit to enable Iridium Certus. As of October 4, 2017, several Iridium NEXT satellites in operation were already undergoing live on-orbit Iridium Certus testing. As each new additional Iridium NEXT satellite comes on-line in the coming months, Iridium Certus service will be activated through those satellites as well until all 66 operational satellites in the Iridium NEXT constellation are active, expected in 2018.

Iridium Certus terminals are being built by Cobham, L3 Communications, Rockwell Collins and Thales USA, all of which are participants in the Iridium Global Value Added Manufacturer program. It is expected that live on-orbit tests will be conducted on the terminals as they are ready. Featuring small form factor, cost-effective terminals and antennas, Iridium Certus will ultimately offer the fastest L-band broadband solution available, supported by the world’s only truly global network. Once all service classes are fully deployed, Iridium Certus will be capable of speeds up to 1.4 Mbps; however, it will feature a variety of service speeds, cost points, and antenna options.

Current on-orbit testing is focused on Iridium Certus 350, the initial service class to be introduced, which will deliver internet and voice services to compact terminals built specifically for maritime, aviation, and terrestrial/vehicular applications. These terminal products will be upgradable to Iridium Certus 700 with a firmware update once the service is available.

Iridium NEXT is the company’s next-generation satellite constellation, replacing and enhancing its existing network of inter-connected low-Earth orbit satellites spanning the entire globe – the largest commercial satellite constellation in space. The third launch for the Iridium NEXT constellation is currently targeting October 9, 2017 at 5:37 a.m. PDT out of Vandenberg Air Force Base, and will carry another 10 Iridium NEXT satellites to low-earth orbit on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. The constellation’s unique architecture features interconnected satellites that form a web of coverage around the earth, enabling low-latency connectivity over the oceans, in the poles and other remote areas.

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