Iridium, known for making satellite phones, is branching into hotspots with a new product unveiled on Tuesday.
Iridium Go is a portable satellite-based hotspot designed to allow up to five smartphones to make calls and send and receive email and text messages without needing a separate satellite phone.
The hotspot, which is slated to be available sometime in the first half of the year, is Iridium’s lowest-cost device and service to date, the company said. It’s also ruggedized, waterproof and contains an SOS button for summoning help in an emergency.
Lifting up the device’s antenna turns on the hotspot, which creates a 100-foot Wi-Fi network the phones can access to connect to Iridium’s satellites.
“Iridium Go enables people to use their own trusted devices -– their smartphone or tablet — even when they are off the cellular grid, all while maintaining access to their contacts and applications, as well as reliable voice and data services,” CEO Matt Desch said in a statement.
The device is expected to sell for less than $800, while Iridium’s satellite phones typically sell for upward of $1,000.
Iridium had Wi-Fi products in the past, but they relied on customers also owning a pricey satellite phone.
Rival Globalstar, meanwhile, introduced a satellite-based Wi-Fi hotspot of its own last week that also works with existing smartphones.