Technology Advances Set to Revolutionize Industry
Wednesday, June 13, 2007 | Comments


By Duncan Swan

A number of satellite technology developments are paving the way for a burgeoning market including a chipset service expected to hit the market in 2008, according to Iridium executives. The chip development will help secure satellite communications as an addition to mainstream mobile devices. Satellite services are set to join LMR, Wi-Fi, and cellular networks as an integral element of packaged multibearer solutions through the chipset service.

Several new satellite firms, including Mobile Satellite Ventures (MSV), TerreStar Global, and others have plans to deploy fully interoperable, ubiquitous next-generation communication systems for the public sector and build on the universal chipset strategy to enable a range of devices to include a satellite capability. Users gain the advantage of terminals with built-in satellite communications; when users require satellite communications, the alternative bearer can be used with minimum fuss and with maximum familiarization through a communications terminal already used.

The service provider can provide guarantees in relation to service provision, traffic prioritization, and coverage. And key to terminal size, antenna requirements for satellite communications are similar to conventional handset requirements. In essence, such a solution is providing a satellite service complementary to existing terrestrial networks: a cell site in the sky.

Satellite communications is nothing new. But developments are happening at a rapid pace with satellite providers enhancing service offerings. Services include voice and relatively high-bandwidth services available anywhere to anywhere with low latency, high availability, and resilience, and without terrestrial dependency. In the near future, these services will likely be bundled into handheld and vehicle-based terminals through chipset solutions.

Duncan Swan, a RadioResource International editor advisor, is an associate director at Mason Communications, a U.K.-based consultancy. This article is based on presentations delivered at the 2007 BAPCO International conference and exhibition held in London in April. Contact Swan at

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