Iridium acquires Satelles to boost PNT capabilities

March 5, 2024  - By
Image: Iridium

Image: Iridium

Iridium Communications, a satellite network operator, will acquire Satelles for $115 million. Satelles is a provider of secure satellite-based time and location services that complement and protect GPS and other GNSS-reliant systems.

While Satelles primarily focuses on providing its satellite time and location (STL) services for digital infrastructure companies, there are potential applications for aviation, the company said. Satelles offers smaller form factor devices that can be integrated with data processing and storage servers to provide critical positioning, navigation and timing (PNT) data.

According to Iridium, the STL service uses the stronger broadcast paging channels of the Iridium satellite constellation to deliver precise timing information. This aims to provide global, secure time and location signals that are more powerful than GNSS constellations, the company continued. The service is resilient to regional GNSS outages, works inside buildings and is being used to secure digital infrastructure for financial markets, governments and major corporations.

The company is now working to reduce the size and cost barriers to improve integration with autonomous systems, consumer devices, vehicles and traditional markets such as aviation, maritime and land mobile. STL can help mitigate GNSS jamming and spoofing, with dedicated STL receivers incorporated into aircraft avionics.

“The most immediate application would be in aviation/Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) ground infrastructure to support PNT resilience in their networks,” Iridium CEO Matt Desch told AIN. “[In the] longer term, there would be an opportunity for avionics providers to build STL into their avionics to protect the integrity of the GPS signals their boxes use and provide a way to tell if GPS signals were compromised or spoofed. We don’t think we’ll be an alternative to GPS or other GNSS applications—only a backup to constantly check signal integrity.”

A long-standing investor in Satelles, Iridium had an ownership stake of 20% from three previous investments in the company. Iridium expects to complete the acquisition in the next few weeks.

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