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History Timeline of Iridium

Iridium service was launched on Nov. 1, 1998 with major financial backing by Motorola. The first Iridium call was made by Al Gore, then the current Vice President.

Iridium went into Chapter 11 bankruptcy nine months later on Aug 13, 1999. Cost of the service was extremely out of reach for many users. The first generation Motorola 9500 satellite phone was bulky and expensive when compared with cellular phones. Mismanagement was also a factor in the original company’s failure. The initial failure of Iridium put pressure on other proposed satellite projects like Globalstar following Iridium into bankruptcy protection.

December 2000 a group of private investors led by Dan Colussy acquired the operating assets of the bankrupt Iridium Company. Although the assets were to have a cost of $6 billion the investment group purchased the firm for only $25 million.

  • March 2001 the Iridium service was restarted
  • June 2001 Iridium introduces data and Internet satellite service.
  • February 2001 Iridium announces the successful launch and deployment of spare satellites.
  • June 2003 Iridium introduces short burst data service.
  • August 2004 short messaging services were added.
  • March 2004 fax and enhanced messaging were added.
  • June 2004 the FCC grants Iridium access to 3.1 MHz of additional spectrum.
  • July 2004 Iridium surpasses 100,000 subscribers.
  • September 2005 Iridium provides satellite communication to first responders in Hurricane Katrina.
  • November 2006 Iridium now has 169,000 subscribers and growing.
  • February 2007 Iridium grows to 183,000 subscribers with first quarter revenue of $52.7 million. They announce plans for a new satellite constellation called NEXT.
  • July 2007 Iridium has 203,000 subscribers.
  • April 2008 Iridium’s subscribers increase to 250,000

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