Australia’s Beam Communications has signed a new deal with Iridium which will see the ASX-listed company providing a further 5,000 portable voice and data satellite devices for the Iridium network.

Beam has already delivered 35,000 of the Iridium Go units – which provide the global connectivity to enable smartphones to be used for global voice calling, text messaging and other services – for Iridium over the past five years.

The deal, the sixth order for Beam for the devices, comes as Iridium completes its Next satellite constellation upgrade – a US$3 billion project comprising 75 satellites, 667 in the operational constellation and nine serving as on-orbit spares.

The final two satellites required to complete the Iridium Next satellite constellation refresh – which replaced 66 low earth orbit satellites – were activated earlier this month.

Iridium says the upgraded constellation enables new services such as unprecedented global aircraft tracking and surveillance and the Certus broadband service, launched in January. The upgraded network is also fully compatible with the original satellite constellation’s services.

Beam says it expects further orders in the wake of the Next upgrade. Delivery of the units from the latest order is expected to be completed by the end of the first half of FY2020, with Beam noting the product life cycle is significantly longer than other communication devices, due to its rugged design and ongoing creation of custom apps, including ones for weather, mail and maritime charting.

The ASX-listed company says the deal bolsters it’s pipeline with the company on track to return to sustained profitability in the current financial year.

In a letter to shareholders, Michael Capocchi, Beam Communications chief executive, says there has been strong ongoing demand for the Iridium Go offering, which Beam designed for Iridium in 2014.

“Fresh demand for the unit is largely driven by a growing list of apps designed for Iridium Go, including messaging, weather, email and chat and also some new developments for internet of things and machine to machine applications.

Bryan Hartin, Iridium executive vice president of sales and marketing, says “Completion of Iridium Next has assured our customers that the reliable and critical lifelines that Iridium provides will continue uninterrupted, as we remain the only communications company of any type with real-time, truly global coverage,” Hartin says.

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