SpaceX’s Starlink may be the most popular in the satellite Internet sector, but rival Iridium believes it can compete with the launch of a new device that offers satellite connectivity on the go.
Iridium Go Exec(Opens in a new window) is essentially a mobile hotspot that can connect to the company’s 66 orbiting satellites. But unlike the Starlink dish, the Go Exec is small enough to fit in a backpack. The device weighs 2.6 pounds and also has a built-in battery that can offer 6 hours of use or 24 hours of standby time.
On Tuesday, Iridium launched a product that can connect up to four devices. But Go Exec is not cheap. The company’s resellers are currently offering(Opens in a new window) it’s $1,599 and that’s hardware only. Go Exec’s monthly data plans start at $129 and go up to $499, while offering a maximum of 250GB of data.
In contrast, a subscriber only has to pay $599 for a Starlink residential dish and $110 for monthly internet, which can reach 100 Mbps or more. However, Iridium still expects its product to attract users due to its portability.
“Obviously, Starlink is a very capable product and service. It meets the needs of today’s market,” said Iridium Executive Vice President Brian Hartin. “But Iridium Go Exec is much more portable. It is a great companion for your smartphone, tablet, laptop.
The product is also an upgrade from the company’s earlier Iridium Go(Opens in a new window) a model that was introduced back in 2014 and is currently available for $799. One major limitation was that it was largely limited to voice calls, emails and text messages.
On the other hand, the new version of Go Exec has been improved for easy web browsing, access to Twitter and messaging through apps like WhatsApp. Speeds have also improved: users can now expect download speeds of 88Kbps and upload speeds of 22Kbps, where the original Iridium Go device offered speeds of 2.4Kbps.
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“A 1MB image can be uploaded in about 6 minutes and downloaded in about 90 seconds,” the company said. The Go Exec also includes a touchscreen, speaker, and microphone, while using an Ethernet port and two USB-C slots to double as a power bank and charge your devices.
If you own a Go Exec, you can use it virtually anywhere to get Internet access as long as you have a clear view of the sky from your device’s antenna. In addition, the product can be placed indoors when connected to an external antenna. It can also be used in airplanes and boats.
While Iridium touts the Go Exec’s portability over Starlink, the company may not hold that advantage for long. Last year, SpaceX revealed it was working on a mobile version of its Starlink and said it would be delivered as a portable device.
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