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Iridium (IRDM) & MAS Partner to Boost Maritime Communications

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Iridium Communications Inc. IRDM recently announced that it will be aiding autonomous transatlantic research vessel, Mayflower Autonomous Ship (“MAS”), in gathering critical information related to marine mammal conservation, ocean acidity and climate change on a real-time basis. MAS also selected French multinational company and Iridium’s ally, Thales Group, to be part of this scientific expedition.

Markedly, Iridium is widely known for the digitization of vessels through satellite communications. Per the collaboration, the McLean, VA-based company also provided its much-acclaimed Iridium Certus technology to remotely manage MAS’ vessel operations and monitor the location of the autonomous ship, thereby ensuring steady communication with the onshore team.

At a time when majority of the global organizations are sparing no efforts to safeguard the future of the maritime industry, the latest alliance comes as a major boon. Backed by such positive endeavor, shares of Iridium gained 1.2% to close at $38.21 as of May 28.

Notably, MAS is a unique joint initiative by ProMare, a non-profit corporation established in 2001 to promote marine research and exploration, and International Business Machines Corporation IBM with support from a global consortium of partners. The fully autonomous ship capitalizes on AI (artificial intelligence) and machine learning technology to collect crucial data about the ocean.

MAS’ AI Captain gathers information from varied sources and analyzes them judiciously for effective decision making. The vessel is equipped with six AI-powered cameras, 15 edge devices and 30 onboard sensors that protect the vessel against any potential risks, including dangerous storms.

As part of this mission, MAS has been equipped with Thales VesseLINK 700 terminal. It is powered by Iridium Certus, an L-band broadband solution that offers enhanced global coverage. As a result, the AI-enabled marine research vessel will be able to assimilate essential science and environmental data, provide performance feedback and track location, all in real time.

Since the vessel does not involve any human intervention, facilities like remote piloting systems backed by real-time situational awareness will deliver significant cost-benefits. Driven by such resilient characteristics supported by Iridium’s best-in-class satellite network, the recent partnership is expected to highlight the evolving landscape of maritime industry. Notably, the crewless voyage is estimated to commence in spring 2021.

Iridium expects to continue benefiting from a highly lucrative recurring service revenue base driven by subscriber growth and mobile penetration. With an efficient operating model, the company provides unparalleled mission-critical communications and maintenance services to the military branches of the Department of Defense.

It believes in the philosophy of delivering cost-effective and competitive broadband services through its highly-lauded Iridium Certus technology. Its commercial business is the main source of long-term growth as it serves a diversified customer base in various regions. Further, the company’s strong product portfolio is expected to boost the top line in the long run.

Iridium surpassed earnings estimates in each of the last four quarters, with positive surprise being 38.9%, on average. The Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) stock has gained 57.8% compared with 28.6% growth of the industry in the past year.

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Some better-ranked stocks in the industry are EchoStar Corporation SATS and ORBCOMM Inc. ORBC, each carrying a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

EchoStar delivered a trailing four-quarter earnings surprise of 181.9%, on average.

ORBCOMM delivered a trailing four-quarter earnings surprise of 35.5%, on average.

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