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Cambridge Consultants helps Iridium complete $3billion satellite upgrade providing global broadband

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Cambridge Consultants has completed a decade-long project with Iridium Communications that has helped enable a revolutionary $3billion satellite upgrade in space.

The Iridium NEXT satellite constellation will provide new services, including the fastest and only truly global broadband network, Iridium Certus.

An Iridium satellite (13532205)
An Iridium satellite (13532205)

Cambridge Consultants was involved in the development of core technology behind ground-based devices and infrastructure for the upgrade.

It led to the deployment of 75 new satellites into low Earth orbit - a total replacement of the legacy satellite network.

Iridium NEXT is the only commercial communications network with pole-to-pole coverage of the entire planet.

Technology developed by Cambridge Science Park-based Cambridge Consultants and US company Iridium will enable enhanced and new Internet of Things (IoT) and mobile internet applications through smaller, lower-power and more cost-effective terminals.

More than 100 engineers at Cambridge Consultants were involved in the development of technology behind Iridium Certus.

Richard Traherne, chief commercial officer at Cambridge Consultants, said: “We are delighted to build on the rich history of collaboration and innovation between Cambridge Consultants and Iridium.

“Developing ultra-reliable communications for satellites that are travelling at 27,000 kph in low-earth orbit is a complex task. We’ve deployed the full breadth of our expertise in order to solve the most technically demanding challenges.

“The result is first-of-its-kind technology with transformational business value. We look forward to continuing our support for Iridium as a core technology partner, helping bring the Iridium Certus service to more applications, industries and consumers across the world.”

Iridium Certus has maritime, IoT, aviation, land mobile, and government applications.

It enables mobile office functionality for deployed teams and two-way remote communication for assets, autonomous vehicles, trains, aircraft and ships at sea.

Offering the highest speed L-Band connectivity, and operating regardless of weather events, Iridium Certus can solve the critical communications needs of teams operating beyond the reach of mobile coverage, including first responders and search and rescue organisations.

Cambridge Consultants helped to develop key components, including transceivers, gateway systems and service management platforms, alongside multiple generations of Iridium handsets that can access the multi-service platform.

Iridium CEO Matt Desch said: “Our technology partner, Cambridge Consultants, is unique in its ability to support our vision of state-of-the-art connectivity, anywhere in the world.

“Cambridge Consultants has achieved this position with us under challenging time constraints, employing their world-class skills across a range of disciplines, including strategic insight, digital service design, communication network expertise and device development. They’ve helped us redefine the capabilities of satellite communications.”

Iridium dedicated one of the new satellites to Cambridge Consultants, fitting a commemorative plaque to it recognising the “many innovations and technical achievements that have helped make Iridium the success it is today.”

Mr Traherne said: “To have a vehicle in space dedicated to Cambridge Consultants is a significant and even a moving experience. It represents the culmination of effort from a huge team that have played a part in Iridium's evolution.

“To have this memorialised in the new constellation is a gesture that means a great deal to each and every one of us.”

Iridium Certus made its commercial debut in January, and won the Top Connected Platform Solution Award at SATELLITE 2019. Among its users is the US government and military, through a secure infrastructure.

As the new network was installed, the old Iridium satellites were deorbited, meaning an end to the famous Iridium Flares, caused when sunlight caught the antennas.

The new satellites were sent into space on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket over eight launches.

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