The world’s largest commercial satellite constellation allows phone service even at the far reaches of the Earth.
As applications for the 2009 Inc. 500 | 5000 arrive, we thought it would be worthwhile to shine a spotlight on some of the companies that are vying to appear on our ranking of the fastest-growing private companies in the U.S. (For more information and to apply, go to http://www.inc5000apply.com.) One that caught our eye was Bethesda, Maryland-based Iridium Satellite, LLC.
In the late nineties, Motorola launched both the Iridium satellite network and a company called Iridium, LLC, offering global phone services for business travelers. In less than a year, that company went bankrupt when cellular services took over the market. But a group of investors saw that satellite constellation was a critical service for certain industries, including maritime, aviation, and defense. They bought the constellation and the assets of Iridium out of bankruptcy, launching Iridium Satellite, LLC in 2000.
Now, Iridium Satellite, LLC provides communication services all over the world, including oceans, airways and even Polar Regions, where landlines and terrestrial-based wireless services are either unavailable or unreliable, according to the company website.
'If you're a researcher that's going up to the North pole to study weather patterns, you can take one of our phones up there, turn it on, and talk,' explains Liz DeCastro, director of corporate communications, Iridium Satellite. 'We're the only satellite phone that works anywhere in the world like that.'
In addition to satellite phone service, the company sells data communication services like sensors and satellite tracking systems that help organizations keep track of people, vehicles, equipment, and networks anywhere in the world.
'Our growth rates alone tell a great story,' says DeCastro. 'Since we started reporting our subscriber growth, we've grown more than 20 percent every quarter over the previous quarter. Data communication service has really been exploding.'