Iridium Communications unveiled a new short-burst data satellite transceiver to be embedded in devices integrated into remote asset-tracking and monitoring solutions during its annual partners conference yesterday in Phoenix.

Called the Iridium 9602, the new matchbox-sized transceiver is 69% smaller, 74% lighter and “considerably less expensive” than the Iridium 9601, the company’s first-generation short-burst data modem introduced five years ago that will be phased out in the future, according to a company press release. A product resulting from a two-year development program, the 9602 is scheduled to be commercially available in June, when company officials hope it will address some key marketplace desires, said Patrick Shay, Iridium’s vice president of data services.

“Because it was some older technology, [the 9601] had a higher parts count, a higher bill of material and some higher sale prices,” Shay said. “For the last 18 months, short-burst data has been the fast-growing part of the company, and we recognized, as we talked to our customers, that they really wanted a smaller product and a lower-cost product.”

In addition, the new transceiver also has built-in GPS input/output ports, simplifying more than 225 Iridium partners’ efforts to include location information in their applications by connecting their GPS receivers into the 9602.

“This is an industry first,” Shay said. “The Iridium and GPS frequencies are very close together. The customer benefit is to have one external antenna that’s a dual-mode Iridium antenna and a GPS antenna. … It reduces system cost and complexity by having the need for just one external antenna.”

Potential applications for the 9602 are varied and can be used in several different markets, including container tracking by trucking/shipping companies and remote sensor monitoring flow controls in pipelines, Shay said.