Embedded technology solutions developer EB this week introduced its satellite-terrestrial connectivity module proof of concept that could be used to make LMR radios used by public-safety personnel able to access next-generation satellites when the terrestrial network infrastructure is unavailable.

Earlier this year, EB announced a reference design that for a satellite-terrestrial smartphone PDA the company developed for satellite service provider TerreStar. The satellite-terrestrial connectivity module leverages this expertise, said Jarno Majava, manager of connectivity products for EB wireless solutions.

“We simply took away the display, the keypad and application processor, and then we added the necessary connectors to build this data module,” Majava said during an interview with Urgent Communications.

The EB satellite-terrestrial connectivity module is designed to work with larger, more robust, next-generation satellites. Expected to be deployed by various satellite companies during the next year, next-generation satellites are expected to enable data rates of 200-300 KB/s and remove the need for the large antennas that are needed for current satellite devices to work.

Such capability can be leveraged in myriad applications, including remote meter reading in areas that lack terrestrial wireless connectivity. EB also plans to integrate the solution into security cameras, which would allow video surveillance in remote premises that may not be economical to monitor today. In addition, a satellite-only version of the module could be used to provide LMR radios with satellite connectivity—automatically or by use of a manual switch—in areas beyond the coverage area of the terrestrial network or when the terrestrial network is disabled after a disaster such as Hurricane Katrina.

“We could reduce the size of the module to fit into current LMR devices, which would make them satellite-capable, or we could create an accessory to the LMR device that would provide the same connectivity,” Majava said.

Jani Lyrintzis, manager of EB wireless solutions, said EB does not intend to build devices with the satellite-terrestrial connectivity module itself.

“With this product, we are not looking primarily to manufacture it ourselves with our brand,” Lyrintzis said during an interview with Urgent Communication. “We are looking to license this to OEMs … and other people.”

Products using the EB connectivity module could be ready within six months, but OEMs likely will wait until the next-generation satellites are providing service before committing resources to manufacture devices with such capability, Lyrintzis said.