Iridium has shipped 46 satellite phones to disaster relief teams and government officials in central American countries devastated by Hurricane Mitch.
The Iridium phones, manufactured by Motorola, operate from where there is a clear line of sight to any one of Iridium's 66 satellites orbiting the earth.
Existing communications networks have been destroyed in many areas of central America and Iridium offers a satellite-based alternative communications system.
Handsets normally cost around $3,500 each and calls are anywhere from $3 to $7 per minute. But Iridium and Motorola will provide the handsets, call charges and spare batteries free of charge.
"It is our hope that this contribution of satellite phones and airtime will greatly benefit the recovery effort," said Iridium chief executive Ed Staiano in a statement.
Iridium said 800 calls have now been made on its network since its commercial launch on 1 November. The service is still not available to purchase in the UK (see today's related story).
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