Iridium turns real cool - with polar shipboard link-ups

Iridium is now providing the satellite data links for an e-mail solution serving the passengers and crew of MV Polar Star, an expedition cruise ship that specialises in excursions from Antarctica to the Arctic . The satellite e mail service was developed and installed on MV Polar Star by Global Marine Networks, an Iridium value-added developer.

 Key to the service is Iridium's "constellation" of 66 low-earth orbiting satellites: MV Polar Star's passengers and crew can now communicate in polar regions where they had previously had no access. More specifically, Global Marine Networks' XGate wireless email gateway enables passengers to send and receive email during the voyage. Prior to the Iridium solution, MV Polar Star passengers had to handwrite (or save to floppy disks) messages slated for email and deliver them to the purser, who then re-typed and transmitted the notes. For passengers to receive e-mail, the crew had to print and hand-deliver the messages. 

The purser's new duties comprise creating accounts and assigning e-mail addresses for passengers who want to have email access during the voyage: they can use a computer, running Web mail, located in one of several locations on the ship and are now receiving and reading their messages in privacy.


The crew of MV Polar Star also benefit from Iridium's new e-mail system. They can use the service to send invoices and notices directly to their passengers. The email gets delivered locally without consuming satellite airtime.

"The XGate software uses selective compression techniques to optimise e-mail transfers," states Dr Luis Soltero, president of Global Marine Networks, who believes that on average Xgate delivers email about 10 to 15 times faster than other satellite email systems.


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