'Iridium® NEXT' to be Unveiled at SATELLITE 2007
Iridium Satellite announces it will formally launch its "Iridium NEXT" initiative at the SATELLITE 2007 Show in Washington, DC next week. The NEXT launch is the start of an intensive, multi- year design and development program for Iridium's next generation satellite constellation. NEXT will provide Iridium's growing customer base continued access to the Iridium network, the largest commercial satellite constellation in the world, for their mission critical applications. In addition, NEXT will offer significantly enhanced services to the company's current and new customers. Iridium will deploy NEXT on a schedule supporting a smooth transition from the current constellation.
The Importance of NEXT
Today's Iridium constellation provides the only mobile satellite service covering the entire earth, with no service gaps, providing voice and data communications for a wide range of users worldwide. NEXT will maintain Iridium's unique "life line" attributes which so many Iridium customers count on -- pole-to-pole coverage, security, availability and reliability.
"This initiative is a demonstration of our continued and future commitment to our important commercial and government customer base," said Matt Desch, CEO and Chairman, Iridium. "Independent studies confirm our expectation that the Iridium constellation will be fully operational into the next decade. We are acting now to ensure a smooth transition to NEXT. We are making major infrastructure investments and we are inviting potential partners to work with us on this breakthrough program."
Through NEXT, Iridium plans to offer a flexible array of services, from high bandwidth data to voice and short messaging services, enabling new applications for commercial and government users. NEXT will feature an IP- based architecture. This will leverage broad-based technology enhancements from the industry, enable customers to integrate applications efficiently into NEXT, and ensure upgrading flexibility. NEXT will be engineered to support communications with other space-based assets. NEXT also will maintain the company's unique and all-important satellite cross-linked architecture.
"A cross-linked architecture ensures the continued security and reliability that our defense customers, in particular, have come to know and trust since their voice and data communications cannot rely on in-region terrestrial infrastructure," Desch said.
NEXT also will be compatible with the current Iridium constellation, enabling continuing service on existing Iridium devices through the NEXT migration and beyond. Over the course of 2007 and 2008, Iridium will focus on the following NEXT objectives:
-- Identifying and defining customer and system requirements,
-- Surveying the industry for new and innovative capabilities / technologies,
-- Developing the NEXT architecture,
-- Selecting NEXT development and deployment partners
Desch estimates that Iridium will spend more than US$2 billion to construct and deploy the new network. A portion of this investment will come from Iridium's strong and growing cash flow, which now generates approximately $60 million in EBITDA (Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortization) per year. The company will also pursue financing from the capital markets and NEXT strategic partners.
While laying the foundation for the future, Iridium continues to introduce important enhancements to its current constellation with initiatives to offer higher speed services, as well as new opportunities for data services and embedded systems.
In addition to network equipment sustainment and system upgrades, Iridium has been investing in new infrastructure to add features and to build in redundancy, including new ground stations in Fairbanks, AK. and Svalbard, Norway.