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Iridium Satellite off the ground again

Satellite mobiles the next big thing...
Written by Heather McLean, Contributor

Satellite mobiles the next big thing...

Iridium Satellite, the failed and resurrected satellite mobile phone company, has relaunched itself as demand for the infrastructure-free devices has risen. Iridium owners are repromoting the company after its official post-rescue launch in March this year. Roger Runswick, satellite expert at Schema, said: "The Iridium satellite system is next generation compared to the widely used Inmarsat satellites. Iridium is more like a cell phone network than the Inmarsat phones - you don't need to point it at a satellite dish. "Iridium does not pose a threat for other satellite companies as it's a niche market for where there is no cellular coverage as it works independently of ground networks. That's why it got the US Department of Defense contract in March." Media groups are snapping up expensive mobile devices for satellite transmission within the borders of Afghanistan as the country has little electronic infrastructure, despite reporters being threatened with execution by the Taliban if found with satellite gadgets. The March launch of Iridium followed a rescue buyout of its assets for a bargain $25m in December 2000 by several investors, that saved its 66 orbiting satellites worth $5.5bn from destruction. Iridium guessed satellite mobiles would be the next big thing, gaining $5bn in funding from Motorola and other investors in November 1998, shortly followed by missed sales targets and bankruptcy. Iridium devices use low-earth orbiting satellites (LEOs) that move around and require constant monitoring but provide a service similar to cell phone networks.
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