September 11, 2008
Iridium Meets Busy Hurricane Season Demand
BETHESDA, Md., Sept. 11 /PRNewswire/ -- Iridium Satellite LLC reports that its mobile satellite communications service has been providing peak levels of reliable, critical lifelines to first responders in the Gulf Coast Region since news of hurricanes Gustav, Hanna and Ike started to appear.
"When first responders tell us they have positioned their Iridium equipment and services in the eye of the storm, we know we're doing our job," said Greg Ewert, executive vice president for global distribution channels at Iridium. "We are concerned about the well-being of citizens affected by the hurricanes, as are our partners. Our, suppliers, employees and partners have worked around the clock to ensure that Iridium equipment and services are available to anyone needing a communications lifeline."
Outreach by Iridium and its partner base has resulted in a significant increase in usage in the Gulf Coast. In areas affected by the recent storms, hundreds of subscribers made calls on the Iridium network to test their equipment or to conduct mission-critical operations. When news alerts of the hurricanes starting appearing last week, network traffic more than doubled in the region over the previous week. The company shipped 5,000 phones to service providers for new subscribers in the past two weeks, with the majority going to partners serving the Gulf Coast.
Iridium is ideal for backup communications services when land-based, cellular and radio telecom services become inoperable due to winds and flooding. In addition, Iridium-based equipment and services are capable of being interoperable with all other emergency communications systems, including UHF and VHF radios. Iridium is a critical communications backup due to its high network service quality, its truly mobile nature and its superior coverage footprint. Major relief organizations have relied on Iridium since its inception due to the gap-free global coverage only Iridium can offer.
"No matter where their staffs deploy across the globe, emergency aid organizations can count on Iridium to provide a critical lifeline of reliable satellite communications coverage," Ewert said.
Iridium has worked proactively with its more than 175 distribution partners, as well as with the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), the U.S. Coast Guard, and other emergency response customers, to ensure the availability of its devices and services during this busy hurricane season.
"Our high traffic levels are a reflection of the critical importance of Iridium to the national communications infrastructure," said Ewert. "Iridium satellite phones and data equipment can be the only means of communications when a disaster strikes and land-based infrastructure is impacted."
Iridium and its distribution partners proactively prepare for anticipated disasters so that they are ready at a moment's notice to provide extra equipment and services on demand. They have been pre-positioning equipment in the field and in storage for immediate shipment. The DoD furnished Iridium satellite phones to military units preparing for response activities in the Gulf Region. On the commercial side, C.J. Webber, president of Miami-based SatPhoneStore, a distributor for Iridium service provider Stratos, reported that he had, " ... never seen so many walk-in customers for Iridium phones in the history of his business." Michelle Williamson, general manager of Able-Infosat, said her company has seen an increased demand from the oil and gas industry for Iridium phones, having deployed close to 100 phones in the first 24 hours when news of Gustav hit.
For the first responder community, Iridium offers multiple programs, including:
-- The Iridium Network Quality Guarantee - The Iridium Network Quality Guarantee promises 100 percent satisfaction with its service. A subscriber can receive credits of up to 100 minutes of airtime and three months of subscription fees if the Iridium network fails to complete properly initiated calls through the subscriber's new Iridium handset. Claims must be submitted within 90 days of service activation for validation through a participating service provider. Iridium works with service providers to ensure problems are not related to operator error or improper usage, and provides assistance to remediate any concerns to the customer's satisfaction. Independent testing has verified that Iridium's first-time connection rate is better than 99 percent.
-- "Test Your Satellite Phone" Initiative - In 2007, Iridium also launched its first annual "Test Your Satellite Phone Week" at the beginning of the U.S. hurricane season. This year, the American Red Cross and ProtectingAmerica.org partnered with Iridium on this initiative - which extends throughout the year - to educate satellite phone users on the importance of regularly checking their batteries, reviewing their operating procedures and ensuring that all required accessory cables and chargers are available before going into the field. This campaign urges all satellite phone users to call a special toll-free number (00-1-480-752-5105) for testing. Callers will hear a recorded message confirming that their call was completed and offering quick tips on proper handset usage.
-- The "Trade-Up To Iridium" Reliability-To-The-Rescue Program - This program is for North American Globalstar mobile satellite services (MSS) users who are dissatisfied with the company's widely reported low network availability. Until September 30, 2008, Globalstar customers may turn their Globalstar satellite phones in to participating Iridium service providers for rebates of up to $700 for Iridium equipment and services. In return, Iridium is donating $5 for each new activation of a former Globalstar customer through this program to the international Association of Public Communications Officers (APCO) Silent Key Scholarship Fund to support members with financial needs. To date, the program has resulted in donations of $17,000 to APCO.
Many Iridium service partners have geared up to immediately deliver equipment into the hurricane hot zones or other disaster scenes. The following offer emergency response and business continuity solutions:
Able-Infosat (http://www.infosat.com/) ARINC (http://www.arinc.com/) AST (http://www.satcomms.com/) Blue Sky Network (BSN) (http://www.blueskynetwork.com/) Cellhire (http://www.cellhire.com/) Gardline Communications (http://www.gardlinecomms.us/) Global Satellite USA (http://www.globalsatellite.us/) MVS (http://www.mvsusa.com/) Roadpost (http://www.roadpost.com/) Satcom Direct (http://www.satcomdirect.com/) SatPhoneStore (http://www.satphonestore.com/) Sky Connect (http://www.skyconnect.com/) Stratos Global Corporation (http://www.stratosglobal.com/) Vizada (http://www.vizada.com/) World Communication Center (WCC) (http://www.wcclp.com/) About Iridium Satellite
Iridium Satellite LLC (http://www.iridium.com/) is the only MSS company offering gap-free, pole-to-pole coverage over the entire globe. The Iridium constellation of low-earth orbiting (LEO), cross-linked satellites provides critical voice and data services including service to areas not served by other communication networks. Subscriber growth at Iridium has been driven by increasing demand for reliable, secure, global communications. Iridium serves commercial markets through a worldwide network of hundreds of distributors, and provides services to the DoD, and other U.S. and international government agencies. The company's customers represent a broad spectrum of industry, including maritime, aeronautical, government/defense, public safety, utilities, oil/gas, mining, forestry, heavy equipment and transportation. Iridium has launched a major development program for its next-generation satellite constellation, Iridium NEXT, which will result in continued and new Iridium MSS offerings. The company is headquartered in Bethesda, Md. and is privately held.
Iridium Satellite LLC
CONTACT: Liz DeCastro, Iridium Satellite LLC, +1-301-571-6257,[email protected]
Web site: http://www.iridium.com/