In May 2018, the Maritime Safety Committee of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) officially recognized Iridium as the GMDSS service provider.
The Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS) is a set of protocols, equipment and communications systems (satellite and radio communications) serving to ensure that no matter where the ship is in distress, assistance could be sent.
In accordance with the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS), all ships with a gross tonnage greater than 300 reg. tons on international flights must have the specified radio equipment for sending and receiving distress and safety messages (voice messages, distress alerts and safety information at sea) and for general communications.
Recognition of Iridium as a new satellite GMDSS provider will expand the coverage of satellite terminals at the poles. And competition will increase the variety of suppliers and reduce costs for ship devices.
The design of the Iridium network is unique: 66 cross-linked satellites on the circumterrestrial orbit (LEO) cover the entire globe, both poles and each point between them. LEO provides a stronger signal and better "viewing angles" than geostationary satellites, so the ships remain connected even in adverse weather and anywhere, including high latitudes, where coverage of the current satellite provider does not reach.
Thanks to this recognition, IMO Iridium will now focus on efforts to implement the service. It is expected that in early 2020, Iridium will present a new GMDSS solution that offers simple, reliable and global communication technologies for data and data transmission of GMDSS in one mobile compact terminal and at a small price.