Adventure calloused world-trekkers can now stay connected to civilization thanks to a new product from Iridium Communications–whether hacking through the rainforest, sailing the ocean blue or traversing Australian wilderness. The company is offering a satellite enabled hotspot that will allow basic web browsing and email access even in remote areas of the world.
The mobile hotspot, dubbed the AxcessPoint, is a small box that offers a Wi-Fi connection to certain mobile devices. The company plans for compatibility with iOS, Android and the BlackBerry Research In Motion. For the little USB connectable AxcessPoint box to work, it must be plugged into an Iridium phone which bounces the connection up to the company’s network of 66 satellites. Along with the new hotspot, the company unveiled a new rugged handset called the Iridium Extreme.
You won’t be wowed by the network speeds, they’re slower than the your old 56k modems. Data connections top out at around 2.4 kilobits per second. Because of the sluggishness, only basic web browsing and email are all that are offered. Some web-based apps such as Google Maps or certain weather apps will be blocked. The iPhone will get a special data compressing app for the phone’s email client and browser so that the slow speeds won’t be such a problem.
“This isn’t broadband,” said Iridium CEO Matt Desch. “ It’s satellite data service. It’s not something that you would use to stream video from Hulu. It’s to give people who are traveling in very remote parts of the world where there is no cell phone access the ability to check email and access the web.”
All this comes at a price of course. The AxcessPoint hotspot is available for purchase at $200 which comes with a free hotspot enabeling software download that turns a PC into a hot spot. However, the catch is that users also need a pricey Iridium handset which can run from $400 to $1,200. The satellite service will also run close to $1 a minute.