Iridium Network Overview
The Iridium network is largest commercial satellite network in the world and the only network that offers true global communications coverage over 100% of the planet. Uniquely, Iridium satellite coverage map spans Earth’s polar regions and every inch of land, sea or sky in between.
Reliable, seamless voice and data coverage everywhere is a compelling advantage of the Iridium communications network, but there’s more. Iridium’s low-earth orbiting (LEO) network advantage also enables the use of smaller omni-directional antennas, resulting in devices with a compact, lightweight and streamlined form factor and shorter network registration times. In a nutshell, Iridium is a great choice for anyone that wants to have access to satellite voice and data anywhere on earth, or wants to be able to use their satellite phone while moving around.
The Iridium constellation consists of 75 satellites (66 operational and 9 in-orbit spares) that are cross-linked in space just 780 kilometers above Earth. Because Iridium is the largest constellation, and orbits closer to earth than other networks, Iridium users enjoy worldwide access to phone, text, or data services with shorter network registration times and low communications latency. The large number of cross-linked Iridium satellites also makes it easier to maintain a connection while walking-and-talking on your satellite phone, while a variety of external antenna and docking stations can be used to extend the utility of Iridium devices for use in a building, vehicle, small plane or on a vessel.
Does the Iridium Network Cover the Entire Planet?
With a constellation consisting of 66 low-earth orbiting (LEO) satellites, cross-linked to operate as a fully meshed network, several overlapping satellites ensure coverage over the entire globe.
With Iridium there are no coverage gaps and an independent study found that Iridium satellite phone call quality and call completion rates are superior to its competition. This is one of the reasons that the US Military uses Iridium communications network.
Traveller’s Note: Although Iridium’s coverage is global, Iridium complies with U.S. embargo restrictions. As such it is prohibited from providing products/service in the following countries: Taliban controlled Afghanistan, China, Cuba, India, Iran, North Korea, Syria and Sudan. Each country is different and regulations may change without notice. Always check with the local Consulate or Customs offices for info.
In January 2019 Iridium completed its Iridium NEXT campaign, a complete technological upgrade of its constellation. Iridium is now arguably the world's highest performance and most sophisticated constellation.Iridium NEXT Infographic
Iridium Satellite Constellation
Operating the largest constellation of any satellite network, the Iridium constellation consists of a fully meshed network of 66 low-earth orbiting (LEO) cross-linked satellites, and 9 in-orbit spares, that ensure coverage over the entire globe in a constellation of six polar planes. Each plane has 11 mission satellites performing as nodes in the telephony network. The 9 additional satellites orbit as spares ready to replace any unserviceable satellite. This constellation ensures that every region on the globe is covered by at least one satellite at-all-times. The satellites are in a near-polar orbit at an altitude of 485 miles (780 km). They circle the earth once every 100 minutes travelling at a rate of 16,832 miles per hour. Each satellite is cross-linked to four other satellites; two satellites in the same orbital plane and two in an adjacent plane. These links create a dynamic network in space - calls are routed among Iridium satellites without touching the ground, creating a highly secure and reliable connection. Cross-links make the Iridium network particularly impervious to natural disasters - such as hurricanes, tsunamis and earthquakes - that can damage ground-based wireless towers.
Iridium Ground Network
The ground network is comprised of the System Control Segment and gateways to the terrestrial networks. The System Control Segment is what commands and controls the satellites for the Iridium system. It provides global operational support and control services for the satellite constellation. It also delivers satellite tracking data to the gateways. It consists of three main components: four Telemetry Tracking and Control sites, the Operational Support Network, and the Satellite Network Operation Center. The primary linkage between the System Control Segment, the satellites and the gateways is through a satellite to satellite communications system called K-Band feeder links and cross-links throughout the satellite constellation.
Iridium Satellite Phones & Devices
An affordable and rugged Iridium sat phone that offers voice, text, hands-free capability and a USB data port. The Iridium 9555 easy to use and is perfect for business or personal use.Iridium 9555
The smallest, lightest Iridium phone. Great for global travel with voice calling, text, SOS alerting, GPS location sharing, and a rechargeable battery.Iridium Extreme
A satellite-based Wi-Fi access point that offers smartphone users global access to Iridium satellite voice and text with no worries about coverage gaps or roaming charges.Iridium GO!
How to Connect to the Iridium Network
Use your Iridium satellite phone with the antenna extended in an open area where the antenna has an unobstructed 360° view of the sky.
Avoid using your Iridium satellite phone near large buildings, trees or mountains as these can obstruct line of sight with the satellites.
Note: Iridium satellites are in constant motion, so if you are in an area where line of sight with the sky is partially obstructed, it may just take a little longer to connect, or cause the signal to drop.