Avionics suppliers Cobham, Blue Sky Network and SkyTrac Systems are among 10 “beta partners” Iridium has named to develop new products based on its Certus 9770 satellite communications (satcom) transceiver.

Based on the new Iridium Next constellation of low-Earth orbit satellites, which entered full operation earlier this year, Certus is a high-speed L-band satcom service that can be received using small-form-factor antennas and terminals. The 9770 device transfers internet protocol (IP) data up to 35 times faster than predecessor transceivers while also supporting high-quality voice connections, Iridium said.

With “mid-band” data transmission speeds ranging from 22 Kbps to 88 Kbps, compared to 2.4 Kbps for Iridium’s legacy service, the miniature Certus 9770 transceiver will expand satcom service to new markets, such as for unmanned and autonomous drones, personal communications and remotely deployed Internet of Things (IoT) devices, the satellite company said.

Iridium has provided operational beta transceivers to the first 10 suppliers, which are developing products for aviation, maritime, land-mobile, IoT and government applications, the company said Aug. 21. Once testing is completed, the company expects to make transceivers available to other licensed partners in the first quarter of 2020.

In addition to Cobham and flight-tracking system providers Blue Sky Network and SkyTrac Systems, Iridium named Beam Communications, Lars Thrane, Marine Instruments, McQ, NAL Research Corp., Telespazio and Wireless Innovation as Certus 9770 beta partners.

“This new breed of device is the start of a shift in what defines small-form-factor satellite communications technology,” Iridium CEO Matt Desch said. “These are highly mobile, lower-cost solutions that feature native IP technology at speeds capable of delivering a true internet, email, high-quality voice, photo and even some video capabilities.”

Bill Carey, bill.carey@aviationweek.com