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Tiny Satellite Transceiver Revealed

Earlier this month Iridium announced the world's smallest two-way satellite data transceiver – the Iridium 9603. The Iridium 9603 is a single-board transceiver that's smaller than a matchbook. It’s one of Iridium's Short Burst Data (SBD) devices that development partners can use to provide customers with a way to access Iridium's global network of 66 low-Earth-orbiting satellites. The transceiver was designed to be integrated in devices such as NAL Research Corporation's handheld devices, air-deployed unattended sensors, and hand-emplaced remote sensors for the defense, research and commercial sectors. NAL will use the 9603 in a family of micro-sensors designed to fit inside a puck that’s less than 1.8-inch in diameter and can survive a drop from as high as 10,000 feet by tactical aircraft. 

It is amazing to see how the use of Iridium has changed since the first five satellites were launched in May 1997, when Motorola CEO Christopher Galvin said, “The successful launch of the first Iridium satellites represents another step in the dawning of a new age of communications.” 

Then the focus was on human-to-human communication. Today it’s machine-to-machine (M2M) communication. In its first-quarter earnings release for 2012, Iridium announced its sixth consecutive quarter of approximately 50 percent M2M subscriber growth. 

“With the terrestrial M2M market now growing faster than ever, Iridium and its partners are dramatically increasing the prospects for satellite M2M along a similar path with this new development,” said Robin Duke-Woolley, CEO of Beecham Research. “The major reduction in size of the 9603 transceiver will encourage smaller end user devices with embedded satellite connectivity. This type of technology innovation moves satellite M2M into application areas traditionally considered to be the preserve of terrestrial wireless and will further accelerate Iridium's fast growth in the Mobile Satellite Services market.”

Doug Lung

Doug Lung is one of America's foremost authorities on broadcast RF technology. He has been with NBC since 1985 and is currently vice president of broadcast technology for NBC/Telemundo stations.