Iridium appoints new CEO as data service launch looms

The pheonix-like Iridium Satellite has appointed a new chief executive, replacing the man responsible for rescuing the operator from a firey fate.

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By  Alex Marklew Published  April 27, 2001

The resurrection of satellite phone provider Iridium is continuing apace, with the appointment of telecom industry veteran Gino Picasso as its new chief executive.

Picasso, who has been in the business for 20 years, replaces Dan Colussy who will remain as chairman.

Colussy is credited with saving the Iridium network from destruction after the system’s former owners, led by Motorola, announced that they would let the satellites burn up in the atmosphere.

The network cost over US $7 billion to create, but Coullsy managed to acquire it for the relatively small price of $25 million last autumn.

Picasso joins Iridium from ACE COMM, where he was president and chief operating officer.

“Iridium has always intrigued me,” he said.

“Now, with virtually no debt and a well-focussed vertical market strategy, Iridium can deliver on a vision of providing cost-effective global communications services for businesses that operate in remote locations.”

The new-look Iridium launched commercial voice services on March 30th this year, with data set to follow at the start of June.

High call costs were blamed for the low uptake of the original Iridium services, but that shouldn’t be a problem for the new company – it expects satellite calls to be less than $1.50 a minute.

However, with handsets costing at least $1,000, there may still be tough times ahead for the only phone company capable of covering the whole of the planet.

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