July 18, 2009 The USD$880 Solara Field Tracker 2100 is a handheld GPS with text messaging – no voice, no video, no apps, just text. This may not seem a particularly enticing value proposition, particularly when you consider the USD$30 a month subscription fee, but wait … there's more! As it operates over the Iridium satellite network, which offers truly global coverage, it means you can stay in touch even if you're trekking the Himalayas, or the Silk road or Antarctica. Throw in extreme ruggedness, automatic position reporting and a two-way Emergency Alert notification system and it's a very compelling proposition if you're an adventurer who enjoys getting well off the beaten track.
The Field Tracker 2100 incorporates an Iridium Short Burst Data (SBD) modem, making its reliable, two-way, low-latency Iridium-based service available globally. Built-in power saving features allow users to simply turn it on and let it run automatically for days, even weeks, depending on the user’s configuration choices. The comprehensive 2-way Emergency Alert notification system uniquely communicates the nature and severity of an emergency.
The secure, online Web-based client interface for the Field Tracker 2100 includes tracking of multiple units with online maps, reading and sending text messages to individual Field Tracker 2100 units and the ability to broadcast to multiple units. Forwarding of text messages by email and automated telephone contact anywhere in the world are standard features of the Solara Web-based client interface. Units can be remotely controlled, including changing the time interval between position message transmissions.
Simon Harris-Ward, Director of Operations, Catlin Arctic Survey, found the 2-way communication capabilities and reliability to be exceptional for staying in contact with personnel in remote locations.
"Tracking beacons are utterly essential items of equipment if you have teams out in the field, operating in remote locations or inhospitable environments. Having trialed and used numerous types of beacon in the past, I'd say that the Solara unit is without doubt the most suitable technology on the market at present, especially when it comes to enduring the constant rigors, bitterly low temperatures and non-stop hardship of prolonged polar travel. Having the ability to control the unit remotely (for example, to conserve battery power) is of enormous benefit, as is the texting facility, which serves as an extremely useful means of communication in the event no other means is available."
Iridium Satellite LLC is the only mobile satellite service (MSS) company offering coverage over the entire globe. The Iridium constellation of low-earth orbiting (LEO), cross-linked satellites provides critical voice and data services for areas not served by terrestrial communication networks. Iridium’s subscriber growth has been driven by increasing demand for reliable, global communications. Iridium serves commercial and government markets through a worldwide network of hundreds of distributors. The company’s customers represent a broad spectrum of industry, including maritime, aeronautical, government/defense, public safety, utilities, oil/gas, mining, forestry, heavy equipment and transportation. Iridium has launched a major development program for its next-generation satellite constellation, Iridium NEXT, which will result in continued and new Iridium MSS offerings.