After nearly three billion dollars invested and eight successful launch missions the Iridium NEXT constellation is nearly complete. In just a couple weeks the final swaps will take place and the full complement of 66 NEXT satellites will be online. For Iridium the milestone brings a dramatic shift in business plans and economics. CEO Matt Desch is clear that reducing CapEx is a key near-term goal and that the company will remain focused on its niche markets, “If we can offer that service at 22-100kbps with a very small antenna that can be installed into a small drone or an automobile or a sensor in the ocean, that will expand the market tremendously. That is not a market that anyone is talking
about. We believe Iridium NEXT and Certus is best positioned to deliver on that.” But he also makes clear that neither of those plans is truly absolute. Expect to see Iridium “bleed into some things” that don’t truly fit the mold. Inflight services is one vertical where Certus will likely disrupt the status quo.
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