Iridium launches Wi-Fi hotspot for extreme roaming

Sep 07, 2011 By PETER SVENSSON , AP Technology Writer
This undated photo provided by Iridium Communications Inc., shows the Iridium AxcessPoint which can provide Wi-Fi enabled smartphones, tablets and laptops everywhere via the Iridium network using Extreme or Iridium 9555 satellite phone. (AP Photo/Iridium Communications Inc.)

Want to get email on your iPhone or BlackBerry in the middle of the ocean, or in the Arctic? Now you can - but it'll cost you.

Satellite phone company Iridium Communications Inc. said Wednesday that it is launching a cigarette-pack-sized box that connects to an Iridium phone.

The box produces a Wi-Fi hotspot that smartphones and can connect to. The phone relays that connection to satellites overhead, which then the signal to a ground station connected to the Internet.

The data speeds will be slower than dial-up, but they should be good enough for meaningful use of email, Iridium CEO Matt Desch said.

Iridium, which is based in McLean, Va., said the AxcessPoint will cost less than $200, but it needs to be paired with a phone that costs about $1,000. The data connection will cost about $1 per minute.

Iridium phones can already connect laptops to the Internet, through the use of a cable.

AT&T Inc. sells an alternative solution for those who need Internet access where there are zero bars of regular coverage: a "Genus" that connects directly to a satellite. However, that satellite covers only North America, while the Iridium network of 66 satellites spans the entire world.

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User comments : 4

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NeptuneAD
not rated yet Sep 07, 2011
I would be thankful of internet access anywhere but at dialup speeds the pain would almost outweight the cost.
akaryrye
5 / 5 (1) Sep 08, 2011
so its safe to say that this wont stream netflix, right?
Honor
not rated yet Sep 08, 2011
joking aside, this is pretty amazing. you can communicate from the most isolated parts of the earth
Skultch
not rated yet Sep 14, 2011
Wait. I thought the US govt bought the Iridium network. What did I miss? Did they sell it?

If I had an ocean-going vessel, I would love this as an emergency backup.