I guess the managers who gave initial approval for iridium project would be probably still working at Motorola :). Iridium was spun off as a seperate company and they paid motorola ~6B$!(from VC funds) to build & launch all those satellites. why should motorola fire them ?
I now live close to the site of the Big Chill Festival (Eastnor Herefordshire). This takes place in a valley with extremely limited 2G coverage and no 3G. Last year they installed a temporary containerised base station in the field to give phone coverage for the event.
Around the Pilton (Glastonbury) site the resident population and number of major roads is greater so the installed coverage is probably better to start with but I expect that they must install extra temporary base stations to give the extra capacity.
How times change. The Glastonbury festival opens today and I expect most of the revellers will have mobile phones and many will also have WiFi 3G notebooks to try and stay in touch on Facebook.
The question therefore is what are the carriers going to do to provide temporary access for 200,000 people bathed in mud!
I first used a Motorola "brick" mobile phone when I was the milkman at the Glastonbury festival in 1989. I can remember the the stir that it caused when my (large) pocket started to ring as I walked through a marquee littered with the bodies of those sleeping off the excesses of the night before!
Iridium is coming into its own as a communications medium for small data transfers (SMS) for M2M and tracking applications in remote areas worldwide. It is also good for providing communications in the polar regions that are not covered by the geostationary services.
With the commercialization of Space (NASA stepping back and letting private companies take over some of the duties) hopefully this sort of early engineering will make it feasible to have dual purpose satellites so that they can be used for voice/data as well as for experimentation(weather, research, etc...)thereby providing for cheaper technology because the costs are split.
Neul initiative is mainly to be used for Machine to Machine communication, but this might lead designer using the same technique to be used for adhoc networks and start global used of it for general networking.
It wasn't just about competition with Intelsat. Remember, Iridium was conceived prior to the development of GSM. In those days, an international business traveler had to carry multiple phones, depending on which countries he or she was visiting. The development of GSM as a nearly global cellular standard was probably more detrimental to Iridium's business model than Intelsat dropping their prices to match Iridium.
Iridium's business model was based on the assumption that Intelsat's extortionary pricing for satellite phones on the high seas ($7 - $15 per minute) provided price protection for Iridium, which was planning to price their service (with better coverage and more convenient portable terminals) at about half of that. What they were not prepared for was that Intelsat might - and did - drop prices to match Iridium. There would in fact have been a decent business for Iridium as a MILITARY service provider, but that did not appear until after 2001, well after the bankruptcy. Today, I am pretty sure the majority of Iridium users are in Iraq and Afghanistan.
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