Iridium merger could enable satellite broadband

Iridium agreed to merge with an investment company in hopes of launching a new generation of communications satellites.

Satellite-based mobile operator Iridium Holdings took a step toward building a new, faster network on Tuesday by agreeing to merge with an investment company.

Iridium will merge with GHL Acquisition, a special company formed by the Greenhill investment bank, and be renamed Iridium Communications. The transaction is subject to U.S. Federal Communications Commission approval and other conditions, and is expected to close early next year.

The proposed merger, which values Iridium at about US$591 million, will allow the company to retire its debt of $131 million and be well-positioned to put up a new network of satellites, called Iridium Next, according to a press release. GHL plans to take the new company public on the Nasdaq stock exchange.

Iridium's phone service is available almost everywhere on Earth, including both poles. It went live in November 1998 after 11 years of preparation by a Motorola-led consortium, but by August 1999 it was bankrupt, doomed by expensive service and bulky handsets. In 2000, new management changed the company's focus from executive go-anywhere phones to vertical markets such as government, oil drilling and shipping. The U.S. Department of Defense is a major customer, and Iridium now sells more data modems than phones. The modems mostly are used for machine-to-machine communications, such as reporting ships' locations. Iridium has about 305,000 subscribers.

The Iridium Next project, estimated to cost more than $2 billion, would gradually replace the company's 66 meshed satellites with new ones and allow it to offer an Internet Protocol broadband data service. Last year, Iridium Holdings Chairman and CEO Matt Desch said the network's baseline speed was 2.4K bps, and it hoped to provide options for as much as 10M bps with Iridium Next. In addition, the new satellites might be able to offer environmental monitoring, photography and a geographic positioning system to complement the current GPS (Global Positioning System).

Iridium's current satellites are expected to reach the end of their useful lives starting around 2014; the company hopes to have the new network completed by 2016.

Under the merger deal, GHL Acquisition Senior Vice President Robert Niehaus would become chairman of the company, but Desch and his management team would remain.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags iridiumsatellite

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Stephen Lawson

IDG News Service
Show Comments


James Cook University - Master of Data Science Online Course

Learn more >


Sansai 6-Outlet Power Board + 4-Port USB Charging Station

Learn more >



Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?