13/03/2001 Like Peter Mandleson, orbiting telco Iridium displays an ability to bounce back that stretches credulity past splitting point. What to make of the fact that today it announces a new service aimed at remote workers? By remote, the company doesn't mean people in twee cottages around the Norfolk coast, rather butch pipeline engineers and foresters who habitually hang around hundreds of miles from the nearest twisted pair. It's a sound enough idea, if you can ignore the multiple billions of dollars that have been written off creating the infrastructure. Which, now that Iridium's been rescued by the US government, it can. You might find it peculiar that the US taxpayer's dollar has gone towards funding a commercial service that, one presumes, is in direct competition with other pure commercial services, and you might assume that this is the sort of thing which would have the Americans hopping up and down and crying "European socialists! Unfair!" had we done it. But, again as with Mandy, let us not get bogged down in foolish consistencies. It's long been known among the cognoscenti that US military radio relay satellites are an absolute piece of cake to piggyback one's transatlantic calls upon, and a thriving community exists to make grateful use of spare bandwidth provided by -- and intended for -- Uncle Sam. It's just that the darn Yankees have finally found a way to make us pay for it. Such is progress.