Iridium launches alternative GPS PNT service

May 23, 2016  - By

Iridium-LogoIridium Communications Inc. has introduced its Satellite Time and Location (STL) service, an alternative or complement to traditional indoor and outdoor location-based technologies, and declared it ready for use. STL’s position, navigation and timing (PNT) technology is deployed through Iridium’s 66 cross-linked, low-earth orbit satellite constellation.

Through Iridium satellites and in GNSS receivers, STL technology can work to verify GPS, GLONASS, Galileo and other navigation services, and also can serve as an alternative for those services when GPS signals are degraded or unavailable. STL also can provide an alternative source of time when testing GPS signals.

Iridium is working with Satelles, a division of iKare Corporation, as its primary technology partner. Satelles enables Iridium’s paging channels to reach small, low-cost receivers in nearly any environment, the company says in a news release.

“We think STL can help solve an important and growing problem for governments and businesses, and serve as a platform for continued innovation,” says Matt Desch, chief executive officer at Iridium. “With STL, we are introducing a global capability that is already in space, technologically ready for use and is independent of any particular location technology. The team at Satelles has been able to leverage the unique capabilities that our network offers to create a solution that can ultimately be integrated into almost any kind of platform, including other Iridium machine-to-machine devices, heavy machinery, automobiles and even the power grid, to name a few. Once implemented, STL could revolutionize the way the world’s largest, global companies and governments operate and manage cyber security.”

In a chipset about the size of a postage stamp, the technology can be embedded into many devices. STL’s signal strength may make spoofing GPS systems more difficult, the company says. STL transmits its signals through Iridium’s satellite constellation to deliver a unique code to each position on the ground that can be independently authenticated, which allows operation or access only if the user is in the location expected.

“Commercial users are now able to use STL to deliver trustworthy timing solutions for critical infrastructure, such as LTE networks, transactional data centers and the power grid,” says Greg Gutt, president and chief technology officer of Satelles. “Military and government users can also acquire these commercial off-the-shelf solutions for the Department of Defense and other government applications. In addition to enhancing the security and resiliency of GPS, STL technology can be embedded into servers anywhere in the world to geo-fence data and applications, providing trusted time and location data as an independent factor for end-point authentication.”

The STL solution has been successfully demonstrated across multiple sectors, including military, academia and commercial applications. The technology is available today and will be supported by Iridium NEXT, the Iridium’s next-generation global satellite constellation, which is scheduled for completion by late 2017, the company says.

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