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 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 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 more than 66 satellites that are cross-linked in space just 780 kilometers above Earth. Because its constellation is the largest, 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.
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.
A Sophisticated 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 14 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 14 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.