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?

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Satellite Phones Making A Comeback?”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
Paul (user link) says:

Be Careful

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.

Mike (profile) says:

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.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...