Partnership with Iridium makes PeopleNet coverage universal

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PeopleNet — a provider of intelligent onboard communications and fleet management solutions — announced Monday, Dec. 29, that it has partnered with Iridium to offer satellite communications as an option alongside its wireless network.

Iridium operates the world’s largest privately-owned constellation of commercial satellites. PeopleNet says the partnership means that it now offers truly universal coverage to fleet customers, even those operating in the most remote corners of the continent.

“This is an important step for PeopleNet and our customers,” says Brian McLaughlin, chief operating officer of Minneapolis-based PeopleNet. “Satellite combined with PeopleNet’s efficient broadband network will greatly benefit fleets that operate in areas without wireless coverage, from a few remote areas of the United States to the vast northern reaches of Canada. Beyond that, the PeopleNet fleets that deploy the Iridium option will be qualified to do business with shippers that require satellite. Those shippers can include the U.S. Department of Defense as well as companies that deal in dangerous or valuable products.”

Iridium satellite communications, through PeopleNet, will be available on a dual-mode basis on installed vehicles. PeopleNet’s onboard system will communicate over the PeopleNet wireless network where it is available, but switch to Iridium mobile satellite services where it is not. The system always will choose the least-cost option, according to PeopleNet; the change will be seamless, automatic and imperceptible to the driver.

PeopleNet says fleet managers will be able to select what kinds of data can or cannot be transmitted by satellite; for example, location reports and dispatch-related messages might be allowed, while training videos and personal e-mail could be held for delivery when trucks return to wireless coverage. The Iridium option can be deployed across a fleet or installed on individual units within a PeopleNet fleet.

The Iridium constellation consists of 66 low-earth orbiting (LEO), cross-linked satellites operating as a fully meshed network and supported by multiple in-orbit spares. Iridium says it provides economical data communications service that is used by the U.S. armed forces, among others, who require reliable service from virtually anywhere.

“The satellite option solves problems and opens doors,” McLaughlin says. “It offers a new level of opportunity to PeopleNet and to all of our customers.”