Short Burst Data (SBD) Products

Short Burst Data (SBD) devices ensure that your assets can communicate from anywhere on Earth.

When you send or receive small packets of data (hundreds of bytes) from difficult geographic areas,
the Iridium SBD service may solve your problem. It uses the Iridium satellite network, which has
global coverage, and provides a vital means of communication for M2M applications.


data per message ↑


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Energy & Utilities

Remote monitoring, outage management and asset tracking


Precision farming, livestock tracking and water management


Environmental research, wildlife tracking, and pollution monitoring

Oil & Gas

Machinery and pipeline monitoring, asset tracking, and remote worker safety

Short Burst Data Service Plans and Pricing

For more information about our SBD Service Plans, please visit our dedicated Iridium SBD Pricing page.

Annual Plans
Pay-As-You-Go Plans - Line Rental
Pay-As-You-Go Plans - Running Costs

Satellite airtime can be expensive, but we pride ourselves on delivering great value for our customers. So, rather than having a small number of plans that will either see you rack up expensive overage fees, or pay for data you don’t use, we tailor our plans to every customer. These are example plans only; let us know what your data requirements are and we’ll make a plan that suits you.

Also, please note that our annual plans are available for any SBD device; our Pay-As-You-Go plans are exclusive to Ground Control manufactured devices. Looking for USD pricing? Head over to our US site.

Example Plan:
Low Usage
Mid Usage
High Usage
Price Per Month (GBP):
Inclusive Data:
5,000 bytes
25,000 bytes
250,000 bytes
Overage Rate:
£2.74 per 1,000 bytes
£1.46 per 1,000 bytes
£0.69 per 1,000 bytes
Activation Fee:

Our pay-as-you-go plans offer great flexibility for development purposes, and are available for the RockBLOCK 9602 and RockBLOCK 9603 plug-and-play satellite transceivers, the RockSTAR personal tracking device, RockFLEET vehicle tracking device, and the RockAIR aircraft tracking device.

Pay-as-you-go plans are comprised of line rental and credits. Line rental allows the SBD device to exchange information with the Iridium satellite network. Credits (see the Running Costs tab) are used each time you transmit.

RockBLOCK 9602, 9603, Plus
Price Per Month (USD):
£13.00 per month
£18.00 per month
£18.00 per month
Hybrid Satellite / Cellular Service:
+ $13.00 per month

Line rental allows the SBD device to exchange information with the Iridium satellite network. Credits are used each time you transmit. One credit is used per 50 bytes (or part thereof) of message sent or received. One credit is also used if you check your mailbox and there are no messages waiting (a mailbox check).

Be sure to check out our SBD Pricing page for full details of our Pay-As-You-Go service plans. Looking for USD pricing? Head over to our US site.

50 Credits
100 Credits
1,000 Credits
5,000 Credits
Per Credit (GBP):
Bundle Price (GBP):

Benefits of Iridium Short Burst Data Service

We're SBD experts, having designed and manufactured IoT and tracking devices leveraging this service for well over a decade. If your data volumes are low, and you can optimise your transmissions, this is the most cost-effective way to transmit your data.

Flexible Connectivity Solutions

Our SBD products are ideal for remote weather stations, ocean drifters and buoys, monitoring of oil pipelines, controlling and reporting on equipment in the middle of nowhere. For basic telemetry and command/control applications where mobile signals don’t go – they’re ideal.

Truly Global Coverage + Low Latency

Iridium has 66 satellites in orbit around the Earth, allowing coverage anywhere on Earth 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. No other satellite network has truly global coverage. Messages sent via Iridium take just seconds to reach you, via e-mail or directly to your web-service.

Customised Airtime Service Plans

Satellite airtime is more expensive than cellular - most of the time! - but we make it affordable. We have great prices, and we also tailor all of our airtime plans to our customers' requirements, so you only pay for the data you use, and avoid expensive overage fees.

Cloudloop Platform and Applications

All our devices are provided with access to our web-based monitoring and management system, Cloudloop. which simplifies your data, device and subscription management. If you have your own management system, and want to integrate data from our products, that's OK.

Comparing Satellite IoT Connectivity

It’s tricky to compare airtime services because so much depends on how much data you need to send, but as a rough guide, we’ve put together the following comparison points. Get in touch if you’d like any help deciding what will work best for you.

Connection Type:
Typical Connection Speed:
270 / 320B per Message
22 / 88 Kbps
448 / 464 Kbps
Satellite Orbit:
Low Earth Orbit (LEO)
Low Earth Orbit (LEO)
Very Low (<1 second)
Very Low (<1 second)
Low (<2 seconds)
Total Cost of Ownership:
Very Low
Power Usage:
Very Low
Connection Frequency:
On Demand
Frequently Connected
Frequently Connected
Great For:
Very small amounts of data from individual sensors
Fixed or mobile IoT applications which require IP connection
Fixed IoT applications with larger amounts of data to transfer via an IP connection


How does a Short Burst Data (SBD) modem work?

SBD devices use a small, low-power modem to send and receive data over the Iridium satellite network. The modem uses a technique called “burst” transmission, which allows it to send data in short, quick bursts. This helps to conserve power and improve battery life.

Can SBD modems be integrated with existing IoT infrastructure?

Yes, SBD modems can be integrated with existing IoT infrastructure. They typically support standard interfaces and protocols such as UART, SPI, I2C, or MQTT, making it easier to connect them with IoT devices, sensors, or gateways.

What is the average power consumption of SBD modems?

SBD modems are designed to be power-efficient to maximise the device’s battery life. The power consumption can vary depending on factors such as the specific modem model and usage patterns. To determine the exact power consumption of a specific SBD modem, it’s recommended to refer to the manufacturer’s specifications or technical documentation for detailed information.

In the case of the RockBLOCK 9603, the device contains a supercapacitor which acts as an energy reservoir and serves to buffer the highly pulsed nature of its internal circuits from the user connections. Typically a successful SBD transmission has an average current consumption of between 45 and 50 milliamps (averaged over a 60 second period). When set to transmit once an hour, the RockBLOCK will use roughly 4896 A-s (Amp – seconds) per month. For more information, see our RockBLOCK power consumption guide:

How does message queuing work in SBD devices?

SBD offers message queuing capabilities, allowing messages to be stored either at the satellite (by default) or locally on the device (please note, this is at the discretion of the manufacturer so only some devices are able to offer this capability). This ensures data integrity by preventing message loss, with queued messages being transmitted once the network connection is re-established. The number of messages that can be stored locally, varies depending on the device and message sizes. Additionally, depending on the device and setup, transmissions can be processed sequentially or based on predetermined priority parameters. For our Rock tracking products (RockFLEET, RockAIR, and RockSTAR), messages are queued locally in a first-in, first-out manner. In contrast, our RockBLOCK devices leverage this capability via the satellite’s, with messages queued until requested by the RockBLOCK.

How much does SBD airtime service cost?

The cost of SBD airtime service varies depending on factors such as volume of data transmitted, and the frequency of communication. Ground Control are a Tier 1 Iridium Reseller and have access to some of the most competitive service rates on the market. What’s more, we’re able to tailor our pricing plans to your specific needs, ensuring the most cost-effective service for your IoT deployment. See Iridium SBD Plans & Pricing.

What are some common ways that SBD modules are used in different industries?

The Iridium satellite network offers low latency and seamless global coverage for IoT applications. With small data handling capabilities, it’s perfect for location data, sensor readings, status updates, and more. Reliable and versatile, SBD is ideal for various industries. Just some of the more common applications:
• Asset tracking
• Fleet management
• Telemetry
• Pipeline monitoring
• Disaster and emergency response
• Environmental monitoring
• Oceanographic data
• Homeland security
• Regulatory compliance
• Remote worker safety
• Network monitoring

For more detail, you can view all of our case studies leveraging SBD airtime here.

Is SBD right for your project?

We are SBD experts; we've been designing and manufacturing devices that work on this network since 2005, and we're very well placed to help you find the right product and airtime for your requirements.

Call or email us, or complete the form; whether you'd ;like a quote or just friendly and impartial advice, we're here to help.