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Iridium Rises From the Dead

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In an amazing comeback from the grave, satellite phone maker Iridium (NASDAQ:IRDM) announced a reverse merger with GHL Acquisitions, giving it the capital it needs to launch a new generation of satellites. When the company filed for bankruptcy ten years ago we all had visions of their 66 satellites in low earth orbit crashing to the ground in flames. Most of them are in fact still up there, but have only five years of life remaining, and the technology has moved on. You may recall the original Iridium phones, which were heavy and sported three foot antennas, and gave you unlimited telephone access from the 92% of the world not covered by cell phone transmitters. It was the cell phone of choice with assorted spooks, foreign correspondents, and third world tyrants, and was the only phone plan you could use to call in an air strike in Afghanistan. I guess AT&T’s and Sprint’s “covert agent” plans never got off the ground. It was also popular with terrorists, until they learned the hard way that the National Security Agency was taping their every word. And at an initial cost of $3,000 a month and $7 a minute, it didn’t exactly encourage those long meaningful chats with your new girlfriend. They didn’t even offer rollover minutes. Their new 9555 model is the same size as any other cell, (better for undercover work), much cheaper, and is aimed at first responders and remote workers, like on offshore oil platforms and emerging market gold mines. Economies of scale are certain to lower prices further. Watch this space.