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

By Bruce V. Bigelow (posted on xconomy.com, 2/15/11)

Gilbert had gained his experience as the CEO at Boatracs, a small San Diego company that had licensed Qualcomm technology to provide tracking and data communications for maritime vessels. In essence Boatracs‘ business model was a seafaring version of Omnitracs, the telematics business that Qualcomm developed for long-haul truck fleets—and which helped sustain Qualcomm during its early years, when it was developing its digital wireless technology.

(As in other areas of wireless technology, Qualcomm’s early role in telematics seems to have spawned a number of San Diego startups developing related technologies. Network Fleet co-founder Diego Borrego says the list includes DriveCam, Vehiclepath, Air-Trak, Procon, Calamp, and Quake in San Diego, Carlsbad, CA-based Sierra Wireless, Novatel’s recent acquisition of Enfora.)

The opportunity Gilbert saw a decade ago coincided with the resurrection of Iridium Communications, the satellite-based wireless communications company that Motorola and others spent $6 billion building—and which a group of investors acquired in 2001 for $25 million in a court-approved bankruptcy sale.

Gilbert says he met with Iridium chairman Dan Colussy, “and we kind of made a deal … (read the rest of the article here).

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