Satnews Daily
November 11th, 2018

Icom Passes Iridium Communications' Muster as a VAM... Will Develop a Truly Global PTT Handheld Radio

Iridium Communications Inc. (NASDAQ:IRDM) has announced that Icom Incorporated (Icom) has joined the company's partner ecosystem as a licensed Value-Added Manufacturer (VAM) and will be developing the world’s first, truly global, push-to-talk-only (PTT) radio handheld.

Based in Japan, Icom is a manufacturer of two-way handheld radios and will harness their expertise in the making of their first Iridium® handheld.  This new device will be suited for remote workers, first responders, global military, NGOs and other organizations in need of real-time communications throughout areas lacking ground infrastructure.  Iridium PTT technology allows teams to remain closely coordinated with their headquarters or other field teams around the world, instantly, regardless of geography.

The development of this new PTT handheld comes in response to increased market demand for products that are focused on providing a rugged  solution that supports Iridium’s PTT capability.  Icom was selected, in large part, due to their expertise in the land-mobile radio (LMR) industry where they provide dozens of products through a growing portfolio.

This is the first satellite-based handheld developed by Icom, and it is designed to integrate seamlessly with Icom’s current selection of accessories. This will allow for the new satellite handheld to be quickly inventoried and integrated with their existing deployed products.

Both Icom’s and Iridium’s distribution networks will offer the new handheld, expanding Icom’s presence to the satellite industry and bringing Iridium’s satellite PTT capabilities to Icom’s existing global sales network.  The new handheld is expected to be available in 2019.

Executive Comments

Joel Thompson, VP, Global Product and Service Management at Iridium said that when searching for the correct partner to develop the firm's first PTT-only handheld, the company had a number of required criteria. First and foremost is a track record of world-class product success that will support the proven reliability and robustness that Iridium subscribers have come to expect. Icom is a premier brand with recognized expertise.  They fit the exact mold of everything Iridium could wish for in order to develop a world-class product for customers.

Icom President Masataka Harima added that Icom has been developing various wireless communications equipment for land use, marine use and air band use. This satellite PTT project will be a tough challenge, but the project will fill an important piece of the company's product lineups that cover all areas from the surface of the Earth and even into space.

Iridium has global communications coverage and is in the final stages of a $3 billion initiative to upgrade its entire low-Earth-orbiting satellite constellation with a new generation of interconnected satellites, known as Iridium NEXT. To date, 65 new satellites have been placed in orbit, with the final launch of 10 satellites planned for December 30, 2018. Upon completion, a total of 75 Iridium NEXT satellites will have been delivered to space, with 66 in the active constellation and nine serving as on-orbit spares.