Iridium Satellite LLC, the company born from the ashes of what was one of the most spectacular and initial telecom failures, has fortified its market position in the past year, aggressively pursuing relationships with companies that will help expand use of its satellite network across all industires. The Alexandria, Va.-based Iridium — which bought the assets of Iridium LLC out of bankruptcy in December 2000, launched global voice services in March 2001 and added ubiquitous Internet connectivity in June — has announced a number of deals with leading satellite communication companies — Xantic, Telenor and France Telecom Mobile
Satellite Communications — and has launched a new crew calling service for the marine business.
The Xantic and Telenor agreements center on partners offering Iridium's voice and data services through their respective worldwide networks. Each has particular strengths that the company is counting on to fortify the whole.
"Iridium's mobile communications services and world-wide coverage complements our fixed satellite offerings," said Xantic
CEO Knut Reed. "We intend to make a selected number of our Value Added Services available over the Iridium network, making it a great new medium to serve our customers following the Content, Application and Transactions (CAT) strategy."
In the case of Telenor, Iridium already had an existing relationship with Marlink, a leading provider of satellite communications for the maritime community, launched by Telenor Satellite Services in March 2002. As part of the agreement, Iridium will work with all of Telenor Satellite Services' business units including Telenor Satellite Services, Inc. in the United States and Marlink.
With France Telecom Mobile Satellite, Iridium is helping to significantly broaden the company's offerings. "Iridium is an essential addition to our satellite services portfolio enabling us to significantly broaden our target market and revenue base," said Jean-Louis Charlety, chairman and CEO of France Telecom Mobile Satellite Communications.
"With global coverage and data capabilities, Iridium delivers a robust mobile satellite communications offering and perfectly complements our existing satellite offerings for maritime and land-based applications. This partnership is key to delivering the most comprehensive suite of satellite communications services to our customers."
Crews Phone Home
This past April, Iridium announced the availability of crew calling to assist the management of on-ship call operations. Iridium's crew calling solution supports pre-paid calling for individual crew members and subscription services for a vessel's official communications. The new service is touted as simplifying the task of managing fleet communications costs.
"By reducing the administrative burden of monitoring each crew member's calls, this new platform of services will help shipping businesses cut back on operating expenditures while providing an affordable convenience that benefits crew morale and productivity," said Charlene King, executive vice president for marketing and channel management at Iridium Satellite. "While prohibitive costs and complicated pricing schemes have limited the use of other satellite systems for crew calling purposes, Iridium's affordable, flat-rate pricing makes it ideal for crew morale programs."
Iridium Satellite recently launched five additional spare satellites to ensure the life span of the constellation, currently estimated to have at least eight more years of operational life.