Satellite company partners with Bezos’ AWS to bring internet connectivity to the ‘whole planet’

Iridium Communications announced a partnership with Amazon Web Services this week, to develop a satellite-based network called CloudConnect for Internet of Things (IoT) applications.

“We’re really covering the whole planet … with terrestrial networks today it’s still only 10 percent or 20 percent” of the Earth, Iridium CEO Matt Desch told CNBC on Thursday. “Everybody today can connect pretty easily with very little effort. Now that Amazon has put our language into the cloud platform, they can extend their applications to the satellite realm.”

CloudConnect, which the company expects to launch in 2019, makes Iridium “the first, and only, satellite provider now connected to” Amazon Web Services, Desch said. The CloudConnect network will focus on “where cellular technologies aren’t,” Desch said, bringing the rest of the world within reach of AWS.

The company is nearly finished putting its Iridium NEXT constellation of 75 satellites into orbit. SpaceX is launching the $3 billion satellite network for Iridium, with the eighth and final launch happening later this year. Desch has called SpaceX “critical” to Iridium’s commercial success, which is now the satellite company’s sole launch provider.

Once online, Iridium NEXT will offer services such as higher broadband communications speeds and global airplane tracking. Iridium describes the IoT aspect of the network as a “catalyst for strong subscriber growth.” Desch said the network hosts “about half a million” active devices, growing at a rate of about 20 percent per year for the last three years. With AWS onboard, Desch gave a very bullish estimates for his IoT services: “Easily this could expand to tens of millions of devices.” from CNBC

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