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Satellite Based Voice and Data Services for Sled Dog Race

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: 05 March, 2010  (Application Story)
Iridium is supplying vital safety communications for Iditarod Sled Dog Race in Anchorage with essential GPS tracking, voice and data communications and telemetry
Iridium Communications is teaming with its service partners, Satcom Global (Americas) and IonEarth, to provide satellite voice and data services for the Iditarod Sled Dog Race, which begins March 5 in Anchorage, Alaska.

IonEarth is equipping each of the participating sleds with a lightweight battery-powered GPS tracking device, which will transmit the sled’s location, speed, heading, altitude and air temperature every 15 minutes through the Iridium satellite network to provide a vital safety communications lifeline for the race’s mushers, dogs and volunteers. Race officials and fans can view the latest position and status of each competitor on a 3-D map on the Iditarod Website. This not only comes in handy for race monitoring, but also because it allows for a regular stream of data on the racers and sled dogs. The racers themselves will not be able to view the data from the trackers in the field, preserving the tradition of self-sufficiency and independence in competing against each other and fighting the elements.

Satcom Global (Americas) is deploying 55 Iridium satellite phones which will be used by race officials and volunteers during the race.

The Iditarod trail, which snakes across more than 1,000 miles through the Alaskan wilderness from Anchorage to Nome, covers some of the world’s harshest terrain. Most of the route – particularly through the center of Alaska – is not covered by terrestrial landlines, cellular networks or other satellite communication services.

“Iridium is the only satellite system providing reliable coverage in all of Alaska,” said Stan Hooley, executive director of the Iditarod Trail Committee (ITC). “The Iridium tracking devices and phone handsets will again provide a critical safety lifeline for mushers, dogs, veterinarians, medics, media, bush pilots and volunteers who man the isolated checkpoints along the trail.”

“This is the second year ITC is requiring our satellite tracking devices as mandatory safety equipment on all sleds competing in the Iditarod,” said Jerry Miller, president of IonEarth. “For the 2010 race, we are introducing new features, such as a ‘Race at a Glance’ iPhone application enabling fans to follow the racers from the palms of their hands. Also new this year is a live replay capability that lets viewers turn the clock back to any point in the race.”

“Organizations and individuals who live, work and travel in Alaska have learned to rely on Iridium satellite phones as their critical communication lifeline to the outside world,” said Teri Petram, director of sales and marketing, Satcom Global (Americas). “Iridium is the only choice when it comes to reliable communication in the large portions of Alaska’s frontier regions beyond the reach of cellular networks. There are no alternatives.”

Greg Ewert, executive vice president of global distribution channels for Iridium, observed that the satellite data technology employed in IonEarth’s devices is also being deployed for tracking remote assets all around the world. “Mobile data is Iridium’s fastest growing business area,” he said. “Every day, our satellite network is being used to track vehicles, aircraft, shipping containers, construction equipment, supplies and individuals globally.”
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