ORBCOMM satellite-based trailer tracking gets another boost

DEVON, Pa. (May 12) — Trailer leasing and rental giant Transport International Pool (TIP) plans to offer untethered trailer tracking developed by Vantage Tracking Solutions, a business unit of ORBCOMM.

The Vantage system uses ORBCOMM’s constellation of 28 suitcase-sized satellites circling the globe 400 miles up. The smaller, low-Earth orbit (or “LEO”) satellites can transmit and receive much less data than traditional satellites (those employed by Qualcomm’s OmniTRACS system, orbit 22,300 miles up), but they require much less power to do it. Transponders on earth can be much smaller and batteries will last long enough for practical use.

The announcement is the third major endorsement of the Vantage system in as many weeks. Schneider National announced it will deploy Vantage on more than 43,000 trailers over the next year. And Qualcomm, whose OmniTRACS system accounts for an estimated 80% of the trucking market for mobile communications, announced it had reached an agreement in principle with Orbcomm to market Vantage Tracking Solutions as part of its evolving line of trailer tracking products.

TIP controls over 300,000 units are available from more than 300 branch offices and depots throughout North America and Europe. It was not clear how many trailers would be equipped with the system, or when deployment might begin.

ORBCOMM has promised the near-universal coverage of satellite systems at a price not much more than terrestrial systems with coverage limited by cellular networks. While a number of companies are working on trailer tracking solutions, including some that use ORBCOMM, Vantage has made the marketing breakthrough that brings their system into the mainstream of the truckload industry.

ORBCOMM is a partnership owned by Orbital Sciences Corp. and Teleglobe Inc. of Montreal.

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