Iridium comes back from the dead with new SP contracts

Troubled satellite telephone operator Iridium has made a spectacular return to the market with an all-new service.

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By  Alex Marklew Published  March 20, 2001

Long-suffering satellite phone operator Iridium is back in the market, following stunning re-launch.

Aiming to be the only phone company with total global coverage, new Iridium has already forged service provider agreements in a range of countries. The new company is expected to re-start commercial services later this month.

“In selecting our service providers, we looked for established companies that understand how Iridium can be sold as part of an overall satellite communications solution for industrial and government markets,” said Dan Coulssy, Iridium’s chairman and CEO.

“The robust and experienced distribution channel we assembled is a pivotal component of our rollout plan and will be a contributing factor to Iridium’s success and profitability.”

The 13 new service providers signed up in March are: AST Airtime, Eurocom Industries, Fibertel, Geolink Global Satellite Services, Global Satellite FWI, GloCall Satellite Communications, Incomserv Co, Infosat Telecommunications, Marconi Marine, O’Gara Satellite Networks, Rent Express, Stratos and WCC.

The different operators each cover different market areas, as well as a range of geographical ones, meaning the service can be tailored to meet the needs of different industries.

“Each of these service providers meets our stringent criteria for delivering stellar customer service,” said Ginger Washburn, chief marketing officer at Iridium.

“We are excited to work with these partners to introduce a new experience in remote communications.”

The old Iridium company filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy two years ago, after attracting just 60,000 subscribers worldwide. The low uptake was blamed by many on the high cost of calling, and the new Iridium is keen to ensure this will not be a problem again – call cost on the new network are expected to be much lower than most of its rivals, including the UAE-based Thuraya.

In a separate development, a bankruptcy court has cleared the way for the old company’s creditors to sue Motorola for billions of dollars.

The creditors had claimed that Motorola, which was one of Iridium’s main backers, kept control of the company after it went public in 1997, and operated it to Iridium’s detriment.

The new ruling, made in New York, opens the door for out-of-pocket creditors to pursue Motorola for more than $2 billion in damages.

They maintain that Motorola carefully structured its relationship with Iridium so that it owned the software necessary to operate the system and used it under contracts that were “excessively lucrative” for the American company.

Motorola is defending itself, claiming that the lawsuits are circumventing bankruptcy court law.

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