The booming demand for Iridium satellite phones by first responders
along the Gulf Coast in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina caused
the number of subscribers in the region to increase by more than
500 percent, the company said.
The U.S. government is the largest customer of Iridium Satellite
LLC. In just the first 72 hours of the disaster, Iridium traffic
in the region increased more than 3,000 percent.
To help Iridium meet the increased demand, the Federal Communications
Commission moved quickly to grant use of additional spectrum to
accommodate network traffic and, thus, minimize the risk of congestion
resulting from Hurricane Katrina.
Iridium recently shifted to a 24/7 manufacturing schedule, the
company said. FedEx was contracted to move equipment directly from
the manufacturing facility into the field. Iridium also completed
its first round of beta testing of its “group call push-to-talk”
This service overcomes the limitations of cellular, landline and
radio networks in emergency scenarios. It allows multi-user communication
“nets” from Iridium phones worldwide