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Iridium Offers Data service - IRC From Anywhere! 119

quadra writes: "Iridium is now offering satellite data services. For the first time, dial-up and direct internet applications are available anywhere on the planet. Using a data kit attached to an Iridium phone you can either dial up a modem, or use direct internet connectivity. Speeds are rather modest (9600bps) but there's plenty of applications where that'd suffice." OK. I would happily pay $300 / month even for 9.6kbps, if it was unmetered -- I could ride my BikeE the world around with a headmounted display, a twiddler, and a solar-charged laptop in the cargo bin. But prices are hard to find on the Iridium website, which means I can't afford it.
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Iridium Offers Data service - IRC From Anywhere!

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    In an RPG game I play, the Dwarves often say "If you have to ask, you can't afford it," whenever asked about extravagant items. "But prices are hard to find on the Iridium website, which means I can't afford it," reminded me a lot of that. Does this mean Iridium is run by a bunch of dwarves?
  • by Anonymous Coward

    It says that the it is 'upto' 10Kb/s dependant upon the content.

    I.E. if it's highly compressible text, it may be 10 Kb/s otherwise it's less..

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 05, 2001 @06:43PM (#173475)
    Phone : $895-1495
    Activation: $50
    Monthly just-because fee: $19.99 to $289 (0 - 250 minutes included)
    Per-minute .99 to .49 (Promotional limited fee)
    Per "data transmission" $1.09
    anyway, one provider isn't afraid to quote prices online. You sort it out: tml []

  • Isn't this Iridium, a.k.a the Amiga of satellite phone providers? The company that's been dead for a year now, whose satellites were supposed to fall out of the sky one by one?

    What the hell happened that they can offer low (very low!) speed internet access now?

    Forget Napster. Why not really break the law?

  • Well, each transmission has to go up to a satellite, be retransmitted (on a shared antenna with all of the other phones) to the satellite currently over the switch you're using, send down to the switch, modulated into a PPP connection that is sent to the ISP near the downlink, sent over the internet and then back again. Considering how all satellite transmissions are shared and how you have to bounce between satellites your packets end up sitting in queues quite a bit.

    Those Geo solutions you are looking at require MUCH more transmit power and MUCH larger antennas. 40Mbps is going to require a directional antenna if you want to use it for uplink. Downlink is much easier, but you better belive you are going to pay through the nose for that bandwidth (unless it is part of some broadcast service like DirectTV that you don't actually have control over).

    One more thing, Iridium is global, many other geo satellite services only offer coverage in North America and Europe. Omnitracs for instance has no coverage in Africa (Omnitracs was designed to track vehicle movement, FexEx uses it to keep track of it's trucks, and I think they may use it to send updates to the order tracking system since I've receved FedEx packages before and checked the website 3 minutes later to discover my package was already marked delivered).

    By the way, there are very few cybercafes in the middle of the ocean, or in the Sahara, or even in the more desolate parts of Africa (Read: anything that is not a major city or anybody who is still fighting a blood feud with their neighbor after 100 years).

    Hmm I'm not very good at reading Italian, just how much uplink bandwidth do you get with this free service? Who paid to put the satellite up there? It looks like one of those DSS style systems, which makes me think you might have to buy Satellite TV (not a bad deal actually) to use this thing. Of course it's another example of broadcast technologies that can be cheaper because of economies of scale, and most likely because they offer up the bandwidth the aren't using (yet) for free, so the more channels they add the crappier your service gets.

    Down that path lies madness. On the other hand, the road to hell is paved with melting snowballs.
  • I believe B is the correct answer. Iridium was sold to another company that also happened to call itself Iridium I think. The whole situtation got a bit messy there for awhile, and everybody got tired of reading: Iridium is dead! Iridium is back! Iridium is dead! Iridium is back! Apparently somewhere along the way someone who actually knew what they were doing bought the satellites and infastructure and decided to try to make it work.

    Down that path lies madness. On the other hand, the road to hell is paved with melting snowballs.
  • by jandrese ( 485 ) <> on Tuesday June 05, 2001 @08:06PM (#173479) Homepage Journal
    The article is wrong, Iridium DID offer some data services (they were pretty much still in development when the company went bankrupt though) that were quite unimpressive. Basically, it was a small dongle that attached to the bottom of the phone with an RS232 port on it that you could hook to a laptop. The phone emulated a fairly bare bones 2400bps modem. Unfortunatly the connection was basically just sending data over the same channel it normally sent digitized voice traffic (which is why people used to sound so tinny on those phones, their voice was being encoded at 2400bps!) which left you with rather high latency (~1 second round trip ping times for instance). Because the handoff wasn't perfected yet with the data traffic (sound worked a lot better) you would frequntly be disconnected after 8-15 minutes or so. Honestly, it wasn't fast or reliable enough to run pine over, although it was OK for ftping a mail spool file and opening it locally. Any sort of realtime interactive game is out of the question, and really anything online other than quick email or light web browsing (we had a little program that would proxy the web for us and compress the pages down for transmission over the satellite).

    There is some good news though. The service is a lot better if you get out of the city (driving down 81 I was able to keep the connection running for nearly 20 minutes once) and it does work EVERYWHERE. Finally, you do get better data rates with this than many (most) other commerically avilable satellite services (ComTech (~24 bytes a second, several second latency), OmniTracs (~7-8 bytes a second, several minute latency), and others).

    Next time you need to check your email in the middle of Africa, you will thank your lucky stars that Iridium exists though, since your choices are the cheap-by-satellite-comms standards Iridium, or a much heavier much bulkier much much more expensive satellite solution.

    Down that path lies madness. On the other hand, the road to hell is paved with melting snowballs.
  • Iridium service is available at the poles.
  • by sphealey ( 2855 ) on Tuesday June 05, 2001 @05:52PM (#173481)
    Ah, but the current incarnation of Iridium wrote off the development and construction costs, so they need only charge for the operations costs plus profit. I am guessing still not inexpensive, but it doesn't have to be the $5/minute of the earlier attempt.

  • I'll buy it as soon as someone tells me what a "holographic Display" is which is listed as one of the features of the Motorola 9505.
    (It's the 10th bullet of the "Features" column on the right at asp?productid=446 [])
  • ...if the Globalstar phones are any indication (and they should be, as its a pretty similar system) the biggest difficulty is keeping the antenna on a satellite

    Based on what I see on their web site, I think that just pointing the aerial straight up is sufficient. Perhaps this is is only true in marketing land.

    Anyway, does Iridium not support call hand-off?

  • by Ben Hutchings ( 4651 ) on Tuesday June 05, 2001 @07:33PM (#173484) Homepage

    Read the Iridium service details carefully. The 'data service' (data calls to anywhere, presumably converted to standard modem protocols at the PSTN gateway) 'offers a data rate of up to 2.4 Kbps', which is the figure I recall from previously reading about Iridium.

    The 'Internet data service' (which appears to mean using Iridium as your ISP) 'utilizes transparent compression, resulting in a data rate of up to 10 Kbps, depending on content' (my emphasis). So no, Iridium didn't suddenly get faster or start supporting channel bonding. I suspect that the standard data service probably includes such compression too, but the marketing department just forgot to include this misleading statement in its description. This does not turn a 2400 bps connection through Iridium into a 10 kbps connection any more than MNP5 (included in any ordinary modem) turns your 50 kbps connection through the PSTN into a 200 kbps connection.

  • You could just carry a small dish and do packet digipeating off of one of the amsats... though, since they're LEOs, you won't have much time... but it's free! =P

  • Although I agree with you, I suspect that, in saying "the only reason there is a copyright at all is to promote more production of art through compensation", you have unwittingly supported the current system. Inaccessibility of discontinued work promotes increased production by creating an artificially inflated demand for new work. Compensation even ties into this - if an author is no longer paid for books that are out of print, he has to write new stuff if he wants to continue receiving checks.
  • most places do not have phone lines. try getting a lan line on top of a mountain, or on a cruise ship. you can't. the coverage of the phone system is quite small when you realize that there are people that are on boats, mountains, and other continents where power and phone lines are a luxury.

    a friend of mine went mountain climbing, and he had access to a wireless solution that was $11/minute. he used it, but i bet he was sweating bullets the whole time.
  • OK. I would happily pay $300 / month even for 9.6kbps, if it was unmetered -- I could ride my BikeE the world around with a headmounted display, a twiddler, and a solar-charged laptop in the cargo bin.

    <montypython>You're a loony.</montypython>

    Silliness aside, cyclers have a hard enough time obeying basic traffic guidelines
    (riding on the right side of the road, signaling, etc) WITHOUT computers or cell phones.
    I'd hate to have to watch out for even more traffic stupidity from this crowd.

    C-X C-S

  • You'd have to define "cyclist" - the serious ones know the vehicle code, and well. It's the helmetless redneck riding facing INTO traffic running red lights you need to worry about.

    Actually, most of the ones I see violating traffic laws aren't the dirty hippie types,
    but the arrogant yuppie "wannabe pro" types.

    They're like the riceboys [] of the cycling world - flashy spandex, expensive bikes, logos slapped all over themselves/their equipment...and absolutely no idea that bikes have to follow the same traffic laws as motorized vehicles do.

    C-X C-S
  • Just out of curiosity, where do you live? Here (Southern California)

    Outside of Denver, CO. You prolly heard a lot about my home town a couple years ago.

    the racer types tend to be sticklers for doing it right. However, they also expect the same from drivers!

    Well, I never said the annoying jerks were actually racers. :)
    The obnoxious cyclists come from the same crowd that buys 4WD, 12MPG SUVs[1] to commute in...It's all about image.
    A couple coworkers of mine actually do ride in events and such, and they *ARE* courteous and safe, but I have to be /extremely/ cautious around ALL cyclists because I just can't know if one's gonna pull something stupid.

    [1] The SUV is HUGE here. Like 1 in 7 vehicles is an SUV, IIRC we have/had the highest ratio in the nation.

    C-X C-S
  • and the fact that I can't find Alone in the Dark

    And I guess it's hard to search for. I can only wonder what interesting sites you might find if you searched for "I want to play Alone in the Dark"

    Maybe there's a palm version?

    "I want to play alone in the dark with my palm" ?

    Nah. That probably wouldn't help...

  • Based on what I see on their web site, I think that just pointing the aerial straight up is sufficient. Perhaps this is is only true in marketing land.

    Well, pointing it in the general direction of a satellite and not having anything in the line of sight, like a building or heavy cloud cover.

    WE've had mixed results, but if you stand in one spot with a globalstar phone and don't move your head once connected it tends to work okay.

  • Oh, yeah, duh -- I wasn't thinking of the fact that these are LEOs, so without a tracker they'd be pretty useless for data calls more than a minute or 3.

    That said, they don't really "whiz" by, except in a relative sense. We find that the antenna has to be pointed AT a satellite to work, and it stays in relatively the same place unless you wait 20 minutes or so, when you may need to shift the phone a bit to get a good connection again.

    Maybe as the constellations get more filled out the directional and hand-off issues will get more user-friendly.

  • by NMerriam ( 15122 ) <> on Tuesday June 05, 2001 @06:41PM (#173494) Homepage
    This is by far not the first commercial satellite data access, by any criteria.

    It may wind up being less expensive (as the initial costs were all lost), but you can do 9600 on a Globalstar (they're talking about a 30k+, not sure if thats working now or later) and 64k/channel on InMarsat (has been working for years).

    InMarsat can mux together multiple 64k channels to give 128k+ IP access from anywhere on earth. it's not the cheapest way to check your email (at $30+ per minute for a 128k connection) but for remote field work there's not a lot of alternatives.

    We haven't used any Iridium services, but if the Globalstar phones are any indication (and they should be, as its a pretty similar system) the biggest difficulty is keeping the antenna on a satellite. You can lose a connection very easily, and with data just getting extra noise or interference is a lot more of a pain than having the audio from a call drop out for a half-second.

    Once you add dishes to the equation (to get around losing calls from moving the phone) you're basically back to using a larger (but still portable) InMarSat system. If they can come up with a decent dish setup that runs off of batteries for more than 20 minutes of connect time, Iridium would have something novel to offer.

    As it stands, the only thing Iridium is bringing to the table is the potential for lower costs through competition (I'm not complaining -- that's plenty for me!)

  • Magellan? What kind of nerd/geek are you?! That's for consumers, dammit!

    Get yourself a PDA - e.g. Pilot or Cassiopeia (color display is nice for maps) - along with a handlebar mount (not sure how well that'll work on the BikeE, I have a Vision R-45 "real" recumbent myself.) Hook the PDA up to a GPS unit - there are a few of them that will do the trick, including Magellan - any one with an NMEA interface, which is most of them, is theoretically hook-uppable, but you don't need one with any fancy user interface features. Then use mapping software like Street Atlas USA (Solus is the name of their PDA app, which you can buy in a bundle with a GPS). Now you have something much more flexible, you can dock with your PC to set up routes instead of dealing with a brain-dead consumer GPS unit, you can easily upload the records of where you went into Street Atlas on your PC, etc., and in general the geek factor will be an order of magnitude higher!

  • Right.
    Who said this was rs232? They don't mention all the protocols involved and you never know exactly what layer they are speaking of.

    is it the radio MAC speed? Average throughput? Exact serial bits?
  • uess. :)
  • by Pahroza ( 24427 ) on Tuesday June 05, 2001 @05:49PM (#173498)
    According to this [] page, you have to contact one of their service providers to find out if there's an additional charge. Being that their prices in general are pretty f'ing high, I wouldn't be surprised it doubled the cost per month. Just a g
  • by Baloo Ursidae ( 29355 ) <> on Tuesday June 05, 2001 @06:19PM (#173499) Journal
    I would happily pay $300 / month even for 9.6kbps

    With AOL's well known idea of speed and thier new pricing plan, you can!


  • Ugh. One of the reasons I enjoy biking (mountain biking) as much as I do is that it gets me as far away from computers as possible. I've considered getting a bike computer to keep track of mileage etc, but if I didn't break the damn thing in a crash I know I'd end up just riding *against* the computer and all the wonderful statistics it could provide. I'd rather *not* know how far or fast I've gone.

    The sentiment of getting geeks into biking is good, though. In a way, I see biking as an extremely addictive videogame that's also good for you! A good technical trail is like a puzzle that is asking to be solved, and we all know us geeks love our puzzles...

    "Intelligence is the ability to avoid doing work, yet getting the work done".
  • are available anywhere on the planet

    Not quite. Iridium satellites orbit between (roughly) between both polar circles. Iridium service is not available near the poles.

  • Actually, this is becoming a more and more annoying problem. Not just with games, but with music and books (im starting to get really really annoyed that some books I _want_ are out of print) and what have you. It goes out of print, replaced with the mindboggling overproduction of entertainment today, and disappears for long before copyright can even expire.

    In my opinion it's time to add a clause to copyright stating that if, at any time, production and sale of the product ceases in such a way that the product becomes unavailable for those who wish to obtain or purchase it, the copyright lapses and anyone should be allowed to copy or publish it. After all, the only reason there is a copyright at all is to promote more production of art through compensation, which means that if nobody is selling it anymore, there is no reason to allow the holder to retain that copyright.
  • The problem with satellite services is that they have a hard time competing. Everyone in any city or village larger than a few thousand people will have cheaper and faster connections through cable or DSL. And for reasonable roaming the cell networks will do it cheaper and faster. So the satellite services are left with trying to get the few interested subscribers in the boondocks and on antarctica to pay for a worldwide satellite communications network.

    The ground based ways cant ever compete with the coverage of a sat network, but they can take almost every potential profitable customer there is. And the day that one in five penguins want Internet, you can be sure there will be a ground based provider opening up on the south pole too.
  • Now Indiana Jones, Laura Croft, or that couple from the Mummy won't have to chase after the bad guys, because the only map was stolen. Now they just have to wait for the meter to 100% after stalling 95%. Think of the movies it would be great!
  • The calculations are sound, which I applaud.

    However, I couldn't imagine anybody seriously considering playing Quake over a satellite phone.

    Why is it that just about every technology presented here is discussed in relation to Quake? Is it really necessary? Do people honestly think that Quake players will keep these technologies alive?

    I'm more interested in ping times for it's impact on distributed computing and the development of real applications, especially those employing XMLRPC and SOAP. How quickly can I get search results from an LDAP server? Most importantly, how real-time is my telemetry data? Telemetry is the *real* killer app for technologies like this...
  • From good ol' dict:

    telemetry - n : automatic transmission and measurement of data from remote sources by wire or radio or other means

    Basically, it's what remote weather stations, Mars rovers, satellites, etc. do. Want to monitor stats for a fleet of trucks? Want real-time geological or meteorological data from airplanes? Remote GPS tracking? Even web cams are considered telemetry devices.

    The biggest problem in telemetry is the cost of doing satellite communications. Iridium will hopefully bring that cost down for terrestrial applications.
  • Couldn't you forget playing quake in antarctica since it's a 9.6k link? I think the bandwith is more of a concern there than ping time.
  • I wouldn't mind it, and I've seen a few choices under a grand (including used) which have been tempting. However, the BikeE was $500 (demo unit) and available, and served me well as a commuter bike for a while. Right now the gears are a little locked up and the brakes less than perfect, but soon I will seek out a bike shop to fix those things;)

    A nice Vision would be the next step probably, but I do like certain trikes ... I'd like to ride across the country one day, and really I wouldn't object to the Bike E for that. In the meantime, I'll test-ride a few others and save up my money;)

  • You probably know about Steve Roberts and his various tricked-out vehicles, but they're always worth a mention :)

    that's at ( []) and sheesh, this guy deserves even more than the ample attention he gets :)

    I like my lo-end bikeE though, only wish it was more of a true recumbent, which I have not yet had a chance to ride. But they certainly look even more comfortable than mine :) I'm leaving now to get my GPS receiver, which I have determined will be a magellan GPS315, for better or worse. $150 at local walmart.*

    I have the twiddler, and something like a vaio picturebook would add little to the weight of the bike ... really, it's reasonable access that's missing. Merlin sucks (sorry, Verizon -- YOU SUCK, your coverage map is a transparent lie, and your customer service reps aren't paid enough to pretend to care), ricochet is spotty if speedy, and the 2-way satellite links require stock-stillness. When there is affordable, ubiquitous, unmetered wireless access (hey, I'd settle for North America, even a nice broad swatch of it!), *then* I could bike to work, and just keep biking ...


    *I know some people hate walmart, and they have their reasons. I happen to rather like the place, especially to watch how formerly esoteric technology trickles into widely accessable retail stores.
  • Low Earth Orbit: 320 000 to 800 000 meters
    Speed of electromagnetic radiation: 299792458 meters/second
    Ping times: 0.002 to 0.005 milliseconds (2-way)

    Add another x milliseconds for turnaround, double that number for a worst-case scenario and you still have some pretty good ping times.
  • This is why I often do poorly on physics tests.
  • Now I just need to talk myself into spending the cash on a Wind Cheetah trike.

    Have a look at the WizWheelz TerraTrike ( []). About a grand less than the Windcheetah and in some ways better laid out, IMHO (never been real fond of the Windcheetah's crotch joystick, for example).

    (And no, I'm not affiliated in any way...I just think they make a really nice trike for the money.)

  • I can't believe how many people use telemetry.. I mean.. seriously.. does anyone really know what it means? (Yes, I'm sarcastically asking what telemetry is.)
  • > ...which left you with rather high latency (~1 second round trip ping times for instance)

    Technically, they should be able to do much better than that. While for geostationary satellites (with bidirectional comms), it's hard to get down latency to less than half a second, due to 4 times distance divided by speed of light, Iridiums low-orbiting LEO satellites should be able to give you much better ping times, considering they are so much closer. It's a pity that they're squandering thisnatural advantage of low-orbit by using cheap ground-equipment.

    And 2400 kbps is nothing to phone home about either. Many geostationary systems can give you up to 40 Mbps bandwidth.

    And it's probably much more expensive than most geostationary solutions either. Case in point: Italy's Netsystem [] is even free of charge, for Chrissakes!

    So which advantage stays? Availability from anywhere in the world? Hey, just walk into a damn cybercafé if you want check your mail during a holiday. Btw, cybercafes are much easyer to find in Third World countires that in Europe or the US, because few locals have a computer at home, and thus cybercafes do have a market other than tourists.

  • Good point about compression. Iridium normally assigns 2.4 kbps per call. It compresses voice down that low. No, it doesn't sound great (yes, I've tried it). But given the power budgets of trying to make a battery-powered handheld phone talk to a flying GSM base station a few hundred miles away (low Earth orbit), there's just so much information you can squeeze above the noise.

    Even an outdoor antenna doesn't guarantee coverage; Iridium can be shadowed by buildings, thick foliage, etc. It's probably fine from most roofs. It's truly a service for people who are out standing in their field.
  • you can run syndicate under win9x.. just run main, not synd.bat. I run it under vmware under linux so I should think you should be able to run it natively.
  • nah.. just force em at gun point to sign over the copyright.
  • why not just go to a second hand gamestore? oh wait.
  • why not? That is the point of granting monopoly control to copyright holders: once they've sold it to everyone who wants to buy it the work is supposed to pass into the public domain. That is why copyright is granted for limited times. That is the intent and 50 years after the death of the author is just rediculous for computer games.

  • I thought that the Navy's bailout of Iridium meant that they bought *all* of its capacity. I'm glad to hear that it's still available to civilians.

    Anyone know what the latency is like?

  • Globalstar even announced 56 bit encrypted VPNs [] (IPSec, PPTP, etc) today. I don't know anything about the partner but if you have to do data this way, VPN would be a nice touch.
  • Imagine being an archaeologist, geologist, paleontologist or land surveyor. Now you can instantly file field reports with your colleagues at home or even archive them into one's own home or office database for safekeeping and later retrieval. It think this will be invaluable to many. The revolution continues.
  • by mattr ( 78516 ) <.mattr. .at.> on Tuesday June 05, 2001 @08:28PM (#173523) Homepage Journal
    Iridium has had/promised this data service for years. Isn't this beating a dead horse?

    I researched this 9600 bps option for Cambodian community infrastructure.. but even with two of the Iridium investors being close to the leader of this project we still didn't buy into it.

    They've been saying the same thing about how this fills a need for a long time, but other companies have also provided satellite data services for a long time.

    You need a purchase case for a mobile phone or terminal. Doesn't compute unless maybe you're in the military.. or they have dropped prices from orbit.

  • (pricing there -- mod parent up, please)
  • They mean 9.6 kiloBITS... equal to about 960 bytes per second.

    Where do you get this? 9.6Kb / 8 = 1200 bytes/sec.

  • Yup, its the same company.

    They can now offer this service only because the US Department of Defense infused them with sufficient operating capital to keep going.

    Here is their "reannouncement" [] on Yahoo News.
  • "That is the intent and 50 years after the death of the author is just rediculous for computer games."

    Solution: Kill all the game developers now, so all the games will be free in 50 years! ;-)
  • Dump the BikeE and get yourself a REAL 'bent. I have a Vision [] R40, and while it's the low-end of their product line, it's a helluva lot better than the BikeE's.

    If you surf over to their site... check out the video of the jet powered 'bent. OMFG. Gimme.

    Now I just need to talk myself into spending the cash on a Wind Cheetah trike.

  • As far as I know, the DOD got unlimited but not exclusive use of the bandwidth. That wouldn't preclude the buyers from selling the leftovers to the market.

    This post [] seems to say as much (and it's +5) but the link it gives now points to a news page which is no longer relevant.


  • Can't people access the internet from anywhere using a big satellite dish? Sure, it's not portable, but how likely is it that you're going to be travelling somewhere that doesn't have a phone line (I suspect that the charges for this are going to wind up being more per minute than an international call . . .)?
  • I doubt it will go under. It cost motorolla $2 billion to put it up, but it was sold off at bankruptcy for $20 million. After it was sold, the new company signed a contract with the state department to provide phones to state department and military personnel for three years and $78 Million. Since it doesnt cost that much to keep them up in orbit, theyve pretty much turned a profit at this point, consumers buying in is just gravy.

  • Last time I checked there weren't any RJ-11 ports in the mid Atlantic.
    I think it is pretty easy to travel somewhere where there aren't phone lines.
  • Ride your bike all you want, but don't take up the whole lane when I'm in a hurry. Nothing makes me wanna run over a bicyclist more than him pretentiously pedalling along, holding up traffic.

    And before you flame me, I ride my mountainbike several times a week.

  • No. Condescension will be supported, as well as L4M3R spelling, but the service simply does not provide enough bandwidth to enable l337ness.

    Modern l337 implementations require bandwidth that is at least comparable to home-grade DSL. Case in point: I am posting this via a 28.8 modem. So while I am clearly able to be condescending (as in, "ha, ha! you misspelled condescending!"), this post's lack of positive moderation demonstrates a lack of l337 capabilities. And I am very l337, I assure you; the same post sent via T3 would have been personally modded to "+63, Homosexual Attraction" by Hemos upon being posted. If you aren't the newbie your UID implies, you would know that Hemos has performed similar "alterations" in the past.

    Note the further use of condescension.

    Anyhoo, I've wasted enough of reader time, good night.


  • I'd be happy to pay 300/month to have the freedom from the Internet and actually enjoy life and old dos games that won't run on my fucking computer, such as syndicate which keeps saying I dont have enough XMI memory, or take for instance Star Control II, which runs great but locks up sporadically. . . and the fact that I can't find Alone in the Dark on ANY warez site. . . it's depressing, and. . . I'm done for now.
  • Ok, everyone, SOME of us are crossing our fingers, hoping Iridium actually makes it and that they offer services at a reasonable rate. Their new rates *are* more reasonable than their first go 'round.

    And, since you're still wondering, "what the !@#$% would anyone want with THAT?", I'll tell you: the NPO I work for has folks in, for example, Djibouti. Yes way, Ted! "INTERNET CAFE!? We'd be happy to find a TELEPHONE!" (Perhaps the IP via carrier pigeon has an application after all.) Anyway, for these locations with sporadic connectivity, Lotus Notes, with its replicated databases, works quite well. Better, in fact, than, say, trying to read your Hotmail over a line that won't stay up more than 3 minutes at a time. (And don't try to sell us on POP/IMAP with PGP - Notes does the security thang much easier than PGP).

    *IF* these come in at reasonable rates, they will be Just What We've Been Looking For. So There.
  • Why would you need Irridium for this? You could do this with an ordinary cell phone with a data port. Believe it or not, most dense urban areas have good cell phone coverage.
  • Here's a link [] to an iridium service provider.

    Summary: after all the initialization fees it costs $1.50/minute ($0.50/minute before Nov. 2001) or $0.99/minute if calling another iridium subscriber.

    Who's With Me?
  • by small_dick ( 127697 ) on Tuesday June 05, 2001 @06:37PM (#173539)
    Geezus, Timothy, I think Taco may be paying you too much.

    Treatment, not tyranny. End the drug war and free our American POWs.
  • Cruise around wherever you want, if you cause enough trouble, some keystrokes from them and no matter where you are, no more service. Just like that.

    All they need is your number. And that isn't too hard to get nowadays.

    They've got to be able to cut off people who don't pay those astronomical bills y'know.

    But at least we haven't got to the "Repent Harlequin said the Tick Tock Man" stage (by Harlan "Mr. Long Book Titles" Ellison)...

  • I think that since the Iridium satellites are closer to the earth's surface, it's much easier to pick up a signal. Judging by the look of the phones themselves, I don't think there'll be any dishes or cruft to cart around.

    In any case, I want one - but I don't want to pay the bills. A cool toy, but it's pretty useless for 99% of the population because it'd be cheaper to call a normal ISP over a usual cellphone. (which, if you're outside the USA, will work in almost any other country)

    Other than that, this is a great move forward. I can't wait until we all have a shitload of wireless high bandwidth connectivity, a la Snowcrash and many other thought provoking novels.

  • I thought the whole Iridium horse was dead and buried. It looks like someone found a way to flog it for a few more months. Is anyone taking bets on how long it takes for this latest incarnation to go under? (You are more likely to make money that way than you would by investing in this boondoggle)
  • Iridium is in LEO (Low earth orbit). This is why they need a constellation of 24+ birds for global coverage as opposed to the 3 or 4 that would be required with Geosynchronous satellites. There are some sattellite-based broadband services (1.5Mbit and faster data rates) that use a fixed, professionally-installed 1-meter dish. Supposedly it's pretty decent service if you don't care about having ~1 sec latency. They are able to reduce this with spiffy cacheing and prefetch strategies, but it is still sucks for any application that needs low ping times. It's much better suited for businesses than it is for consumers.
  • It all depends on the orbital decay rates of the satellites, and how many spares they have in the constellation. Being that they are in LEO, they won't stay up nearly as long as one in GEO. A LEO sattelite requires a lot more orbital correction than one in a higher orbit, which uses up their fuel supply a lot faster. Once the sattelites start dropping out of the sky or go tits-up, they're screwed. They're not going to be able to launch many sattelites with only $58 mil to play with.

    Also remember that the sattelites themselves are only one part of the equasion -- they still have to pay for ground staff, antenna farms, Telco connectivity, electricity, insurance, and a dozen other things. Just because they inherited a bunch of capital equipment doesn't mean they have negligible operating expenses -- most, if not all, of the $58 mil in "profit" you cite is going to be soaked up by day-to-day operating expenses.

    Face it, it was a bad idea to begin with. The technology was obsolete before they even launched the first satellite. The original investors in this boondoggle lost billions; the fact that some clever folks found a way to eek out a living off of the debris left after the original company crashed and burned does not negate the fact that the Iridium system is poorly concieved and implemented. Like a chicken with it's head cut off, it's still running around and squawking, but it's only a matter of time before it keels over - and there's nothing that can prevent it's demise.

  • by tcc ( 140386 )
    About time, now all we need is a phone based on something like a Casiopeia handheld for the features (crisp colors, multimedia video/audio (mp3)) add some mpeg4 codec for video, a mini camera built-in or with some sort of holder for the device would make a sweet video phone on the desk :) ), a ibm 1GB microdrive, and off you go, TRUE pocket multimedia power, not only a buzzword, all the gadgets a geek will ever dream (mp3, phone, agenda, video, yadi yada), It's getting so close to me, I can feel it! (well at least dream it :) )
  • Dude, if anyone is stuck playing quake from antartica, he should get fragged for real to be put out of his misery. And besides, a ticket to USA will probably cost less than a month playing quake from there :)

    So in the very best case, the ping time will be *at least* half a second, and I suspect probably closer to a second in reality. Forget playing Quake in Antartica ...
  • Whould it be possable to make a nokia pci(mcia) card that could be used in a lappy? It would be easy to string some antena wire through the display casing and plug it into the card. Then we could have 9.6k connections with out haveing to load around any extra gizmo's other than the solar pannel.

  • m/25/the amazon jungle
  • Couldn't you be bothered to at least read Slashdot's little blurb about the article, let alone the article? It said 9.6Kbps! You are not going to be playing Quake at that speed anyway.

    And that's totally ignoring the fact that if you are traveling to a place remote enough that you would need to connect to the internet via satellite, any overwhelming urge to play Quake ought to be countered with an equally overwhelming urge to paint the walls with one's own brains. Sheesh, get a life.

    < )
    ( \

  • Forget playing Quake in Antartica ...

    [Insert Tongue in Cheek]

    You would likely need a text mode version of quake. And play only other people on polar expeditions.

    wireless text mode quake vs the russians.

    could possibly compete with WAP mode Quake.

    Check out the Vinny the Vampire [] comic strip

  • No, they're considerably lower than geosynchronous orbit. Remember, they cover the globe with small, low-power transmitters. If they *were* in the Clarke belt, they'd miss Antarctica completely.
    I forget what height they orbit at, I daresay someone will tell me....
  • Do you mean like the Nokia CardPhone 2.0 []?

  • Great, now I have to worry when the guy driving in front of me realizes that his post on /. just got modded down...


  • Can't touch my Litespeed Team Issue with Dura Ace. Cycling geeks rule!
  • Sometimes it is necessary for a cyclist to take the whole lane for their own safety. He might be working pretty hard to maintain that seemingly "slow" speed. Use the other lane to pass as soon as it's safe for both parties. Thanks.
  • Maybe then, I'll get a chance to have a microchip-controlled rear derailleur

    Ah, the French company Mavic has made these for years. I see guys with them every now and then. Apparently the early ones had some problems, but v2.0 is supposedly pretty nice.

    I haven't tried them, but they make other nice stuff... wheels, brakes, cranks. Check it out.

  • cyclers have a hard enough time obeying basic traffic guidelines

    You'd have to define "cyclist" - the serious ones know the vehicle code, and well. It's the helmetless redneck riding facing INTO traffic running red lights you need to worry about.

  • Just out of curiosity, where do you live? Here (Southern California) the racer types tend to be sticklers for doing it right. However, they also expect the same from drivers!
  • Not in an fps! You need a minimal bandwidth, but if you had a low ping time you could string 3 or 4 of these together to get up to 28k. I'd prefer to play on a 50ms 64k ISDN line then a 300ms T1!

    Of course, ping time is minimal, infact less then the ping time from one side of america to the other via fibre with no stops on route (these satelites are only a few hundered miles up - maybe 1000 round trip)
  • So that would only come to 300K a month for continuous access, cool... where do I sign up?

    Oh well at least we have more chance of one of them hitting the Taco Bell platform due to the sheer numbers.
  • Aren't the Iridium satellites in geosynchronous orbit ? that's 36000Km * 2 = 72000Km each a packet has to travel to go from the ground back to the ground, which introduces a lag of 240ms. So the ping time will be 240ms * 2 = 480ms, not counting the routing on the ground before the uplink and after the downlink.

    So in the very best case, the ping time will be *at least* half a second, and I suspect probably closer to a second in reality. Forget playing Quake in Antartica ...

  • Iridium's best service will access the Internet at a pedestrian 10 kilobytes per second. Most home computer telephone modems connect five times faster.

    note that it specificaly says kiloBYTES
    the question here is, is this a typo, or is it really kilobytes and the writer, Jim Wolf, just doesn't have a clue that "56k" is 56kilobits and not kilobytes...?
  • Heh, it's nice to see that some geeks are riding bikes. I know but a few people with that funny urge to travel around the world on a bike, with a wireless 'net connection!
    Anyways, I hope that more bikers get into puters, and vice versa. Maybe then, I'll get a chance to have a microchip-controlled rear derailleur (and don't recommend the shimano crap)
  • Hey, this sounds kinda cool. But how useful is it now that so much is graphic based. This would be awesome to have if more webpages were viewable with lynx and gopher was still as popular as it once was. Plus, with lower cell phone rates, national plans, free nights and weekends, and other options like the faster, although slower to expand, ricochet service, is this really worth it for the speed they give you? Still cool I guess. I was surprised to see that Iridium is trying to make a comeback... Maybe there new business plan will be more successful..
  • by viewable with lynx, I mean not so graphic intensive. Yes, most pages are viewable, but are usually designed with the 33.6k user in mind on at least a 233mhz processor.... Still, a neat Idea... Probably not affordable though. I remember IRIDIUM service being expensive. And if you look, they are targeting marine, rescue, and other services that might need these services where cellular is not available. But can they compete with the current systems in place? Ships receive weather data already, and commercial class radio and amateur are pretty powerful to. Is this something that these businesses are going to find that they really need?
  • You mean I can be 1337 and condecending anytime and anywhere I want?
  • Nope. Iridium was delayed becuase one of the ground stations was in Canada and the Feds wanted to be able to tap it. I think they made arrangements for remote access.

    Also, the Chinese government has control of the airwaves in China. If Iridium doesn't have a license, they can't operate there. They must make concessions to make the government happy. I believe that Iridium blocks access from countries that haven't issued licenses. That's also why satellite communications prices are so high--- to satisfy countries with state-owned telecom monopolies.
  • Better start signing up for CTY positions :-)
  • If you want unlimited data and don't care about the satellite access but need more coverage than Ricochet, Bell South's Mobitex network has unlimited plans around $50/month. You can use a radio modem, or like me, use a RIM 2-way pager. It's popular for trucks and other embedded systems. IIRC, its about 9.6 Kb/s

    If you need satellite access Orbcomm had the first LEO satellite constellation. I think in some areas, satellites store the messages until they are in sight of a ground station, so its not completely real time, but works just fine for trucking and remote sensing apps. In fact, some oil fields are controlled via the network.
  • and out of this world. that kicked ass.
  • by localroger ( 258128 ) on Tuesday June 05, 2001 @05:58PM (#173571) Homepage
    The Iridium sats are in Low Earth Orbit so that they can get sufficient signal strength for a handheld device to connect. This means that the arctic regions are covered, and also that the network needs a lot of satellites -- which it has. Ping time is probably not good compared to landlinks but is nowhere near the delay you'd expect from geosynchronous.
  • by Zen Mastuh ( 456254 ) on Tuesday June 05, 2001 @06:37PM (#173588)

    I have heard of pirate radio stations that operate like this: A van loaded with a transmitter and other broadcasting equipment drives around a small area, say a few square miles. The F.C.C. always has a hard-on to catch these guys.

    When the current incarnation of Iridium declares bankruptcy and threatens a satellite storm and is bailed out by the government and sold for pennies on the dollar, the new owners will be able to implement significantly higher transmission rates and sell the service at a bargain. People who pirate tunez, warez, or pr0n could locate themselves in a dense urban area, say NYC, and cruise around on a bike or on foot, broadcasting anything. The F.C.C. guys would be able to get GPS coordinates for the location, but if you factor in the error and the population density, it would be practically impossible to locate the perpetrator.

    People tend to think technology will be used to enslave us, but here is a case of technology increasing liberty.

The party adjourned to a hot tub, yes. Fully clothed, I might add. -- IBM employee, testifying in California State Supreme Court