Iridium, the $5 billion satellite initiative promising global mobile roaming, has won the US government as its first customer.
For $14.5 million, the US military will get a high capacity connection to the Iridium network, which controls 66 satellites orbiting earth. The military will also purchase handsets that enable users to make a phone call from any point on the planet.
The deal is a coup for satellite communications, which some observers dismiss as too expensive and lacking in usable applications. Iridium is one of a number of initiatives but is the only one that has satellites already orbiting earth. The others include Motorola's $12.9 billion Celestri data and voice system, and Bill Gates? $9 billion Teledesic venture, which both plan to launch satellites next century.
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