constellation consists of 66 Low Earth Orbit (LEO), cross-linked
satellites and has multiple in-orbit spares. The constellation
operates as a fully meshed network and is the largest commercial
satellite constellation in the world. The Iridium service began
as a commercial network but soon became a critical service for
government and military users worldwide.
In April 2006 the U.S. DoD Defense Information Systems Agency
(DISA) awarded Iridium a contract for commercial mobile satellite
services for voice, data, and pager services utilizing the Iridium
satellite constellation. Through this DISA contract, Iridium
was also approved to provide the 9601 data modem to the US DoD,
and other government users. The 9601 meet broad requirements
among users in defense, and homeland security implementing the
standard in support of logistics, force tracking, remote sensing
and other data exchange applications. Another application established
over-the-horizon 'push-to-talk' voice and data communications
service demonstrated in "Netted Iridium" test conducted
by U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) Warfighting Lab, in 2006.
Iridium plans to deploy its next generation 'Iridium Next' satellite
constellation within the next 7 years. The new network will
extend the capacity and availability of the current system by
offering high capacity and short messaging data communications
for mission critical applications. The company expects the new
constellation will be fully operational in the next decade.
Through NEXT, Iridium plans to extend its current voice communications
services to offer high bandwidth data, voice and short messaging
services based on modern IP- based architecture. The company
is planning to spend more than US$2 billion to construct and
deploy the new network. The company plans to finance the expansion
from its established and growing cash flow, from strategic partners
and from the capital markets.