Iridium 9602 & Inmarsat IsatPhone Pro, oh boy!


The smaller, cheaper Iridium short-burst data (SBD) modem I heard about at Fort Lauderdale is now official and, wow, doesn’t it look able to “disappear into as many marine devices as possible!”  It even has GPS input/output ports so that it and the modem can easily share a dual-mode antenna.  Hardware and service costs aren’t specified but Iridium is claiming that the 9602 will have “the highest value in the industry.”  I, for one, can’t wait to see devices like the Spot Messenger that are global and bi-directional, not to mention what the MFD and marine security/tracking developers might do with the 9602.  And I’m glad for Iridium that it’s got this and OpenPort going on, because it sure looks like Inmarsat is finally about to attack its dominance in the portable satellite phone department…

This week Inmarsat announced that the first call had been made on its long-talked-about global IsatPhone and that it will start shipping in June.  It will have Bluetooth for hands-free use as well as voicemail, text and email messaging, and apparently it contains a GPS as “location data will also be available to the user to look up or send in a text message.”  The first images seem at least partially mocked up, but still this sure looks like a handset that would make a fella feel like James Bond when whipped out in some exotic locale.  Costs may be scary, though, as deduced from Inmarsat’s explanation that the “Isatphone Pro is targeted initially at professional users in the government, media, aid, oil and gas, mining and construction sectors.”


Ben Ellison

Ben Ellison

Panbo editor, publisher & chief bottlewasher from 4/2005 until 8/2018, and now pleased to have Ben Stein as a very able publisher, webmaster, and editing colleague. Please don't regard him as an "expert"; he's getting quite old and thinks that "fadiddling fumble-putz" is a more accurate description.

8 Responses

  1. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    It’s odd to me that this post has been up for two days without comment, especially as Panbo is experiencing some sort of growth spurt. For the first time ever, there are have been 90,000 visitors here in the last 30 days.

  2. Adam says:

    Congrats, Ben!
    I wrote a long post commenting on how easy it seems to be to integrate the older version of this modem (the 9601, under $500) into marine PC apps. Then I deleted it because I didn’t think anyone would be interested. 🙂

  3. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Thanks, Adam, but, geez, don’t censure yourself. Geeks are welcome here, along with most everyone else 😉

  4. Adam says:

    Ha ha. Well there really wasn’t too much to it. Basically I read through the 9601 docs and noted that because they use straight AT commands and you can send messages as text (not binary), it would be exceptionally easy to integrate with a PC application or even a Ruby or Python script.
    In fact, because the connectors for the old unit are larger and more accessible than on the 9602, I am somewhat surprised that more folks haven’t integrated the 9601. It obviously wouldn’t be suitable for a SPOT-type device but fixed installations could benefit, including those that currently use GSM modems like these:

  5. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Quite contrary to my fears above, the rumor in Miami was that the IsatPhone will retail for an amazing $500, with a base contract about $20/mo plus $1/min. And I heard the same thing from another good source yesterday. The further speculation is that Iridium will immediately slash prices for its sat phone. Wow.

  6. Hadley says:

    Well I agree, Iridium will need to significantly slash prices on their 9555 model not only to be competitive with the release of the Isatphone Pro but more so to make their 2014 new satellite launches viable.
    The latest is, Iridium currently has roughly 380,000 users/subscribers, in order for the new satellites to be economical this number will need to be in excess of 1m at the time of the launching, so either the price of airtime is going to fall significantly, or the price of hardware will… or both!

  7. Eli says:

    The 9602 $300 is still quite expensive for lot of applications…
    Is there an SBD modem for InmarSat avaliable?

  8. Karthika says:

    Has anyone used an SBD 9602/9601 by iridium, i am student trying to use it in a project and facing difficulties. It would be great if anyone can help.
    Thanks and Regards,
    [email protected]

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