Satellite Phones Making A Comeback?
from the try,-try-again dept
Despite all the fun we had a few years back laughing at Iridium’s ridiculous business model, it seems that some of the satellite phone companies are poised to make a comeback. The FCC is expected to approve a plan that would let satellite phone providers augment their service with land-based cellular communications to get better coverage in urban areas where their satellites have trouble keeping a strong signal. The traditional wireless carriers are not at all happy about this plan, saying that it’s a backdoor way for the satellite firms to sneak their way into the same market. The satellite firms, of course, claim they have no such plans whatsoever. They’re still targeting niche markets of people who need to use their phone absolutely everywhere, no matter how remote. However, they say their pitch is stronger when you can use the same phone in both a remote place, and a highly populated one. The prices will still be higher than typical mobile phones (though, only about 30% more), so that should take care of a lot of the competitive issues. The other interesting thing in the article is that satellite phones are finally getting smaller. The original Iridium brick was a joke, but the new phones are becoming smaller because they’re trying to house the antenna in a separate unit. I’m curious how this works, though, since the caller still needs to carry the antenna. Does it become more of a pain when you need to carry around two pieces of equipment just to use your phone?
Comments on “Satellite Phones Making A Comeback?”
And what about
cell towers on remote unmanned planes or balloons above cities? They wouldn’t require a strong signal with a separate antenna. Or some enterprising dot-commer could mount cell towers on the bottom of passenger planes.
You have to be careful what you call ridiculous. I learned a lot about Iridium before its launch, during its operation, and after its demise. The system never made sense for most people, but it wasn’t meant to make sense for most people. Considering the alternatives available in 1999, a phone the size of a brick that could make calls from anywhere on the planet was a pretty astounding achievement. The fact that the phones aren’t a back pocket accessory for Joe Everybody does not mean that the business model was ridiculous.
Re: Be Careful
I think it’s fair to call it ridiculous. They spent many billions of dollars and could only bring in a few thousand in revenue. I was talking about the business model that was clearly “ridiculous”.
Sure, from a technology standpoint it was an astounding feat, and clearly it was targeted at a niche audience. However, to spend billions on a niche market that will bring in thousands in revenue is ridiculous. I don’t see how else to describe it.