Blue Sky Network Finds Markets Beyond Aviation for Satellite-Based Technology

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a five-year contract with Exxon-Mobil to provide its asset tracking services for Exxon-Mobil-owned cars and trucks operating in remote areas. It made sense to expand the company’s technology into terrestrial and marine applications, but Gilbert says it didn’t make sense to do GSM tracking, which is widely available, or to challenge Qualcomm’s Omnitracs in long-haul trucking. As a result, Gilbert says, Blue Sky initially focused its global satellite communications technology in markets where GSM (Global System Mobile) and GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) wireless technologies were not available.

More recently, Gilbert says Blue Sky has developed dual-mode devices in response to their customers’ needs. The dual-mode equipment provides switchable communications and tracking capabilities that can operate with either the Iridium satellite network or GSM-based wireless networks. Customers use the company’s latest technology, called HawkEye, in a variety of ways, including communications and tracking vehicles on both local and remote routes, service fleet management, and for tracking and managing high value missions or hazardous cargo shipments.

One of the company’s key customers, Gilbert says, is MFO, the Multinational Force and Observers that was created under the Camp David Accords signed in 1979 by Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat. Gilbert says the international peacekeeping force, which patrols the remote border between Egypt and Israel, “is a perfect example of where a dual-mode product has its best utility.”

“At the end of the day,” Gilbert adds, “what we’re about are our backend operations and the use of these devices. Our customers don’t really care what device is sitting in their car, boat, or aircraft. They just want data. Most of it is very small amounts of data, but it’s for very critical sorts of things.”

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Bruce V. Bigelow was the editor of Xconomy San Diego from 2008 to 2018. Read more about his life and work here. Follow @bvbigelow

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