Iridium satellites back in service

Iridium Satellite, which last week won a two-year, $US72 million contract to provide secure wireless communications to thousands of government employees, has completed the acquisition of the operating assets of the former Iridium organisation and its subsidiaries, the company announced yesterday.

With the asset transfer complete, Iridium Satellite now owns all of the former assets of Iridium, including the satellite constellation, the terrestrial network, Iridium real property and intellectual property, Iridium Satellite said in a release.

The newly-formed Iridium Satellite paid $25 million for Iridium after the US-based company filed for bankruptcy in August 1999 and began planning for the decommissioning of its satellites.

The release also said Iridium Satellite would begin service immediately under the government contract signed last week with the US Department of Defence (DOD). Approximately 20,000 government employees will have unlimited airtime to make wireless phone calls under the deal.

By the end of the first quarter of 2001, Iridium Satellite will launch commercial satellite communications services to other government customers and industries such as aviation, oil and gas, and forestry that need reliable communications in remote areas of the world where terrestrial systems are not available, the release said. Iridium Satellite will market the Iridium system's ability to reach all of the world's remote areas to these industries.

Iridium Satellite has contracted with Boeing to operate and maintain the satellite constellation, and Motorola, Iridium's principal investor, has agreed to provide phones and other subscriber equipment.

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