Hilary Kramer makes a number of important points in The Huffington Post story alleging faulty equipment is being supplied to our country's combat troops. Unfortunately, the article included claims about Iridium that are entirely incorrect. The author cited a "first-call connection rate of only 80 percent." The fact is that Iridium's call completion rates are consistently greater than 95% from anywhere on the planet with a clear view of the sky. This has been validated by independent third-party consultants and our customers including the U.S. Government.
With 66 operational satellites and 7 in-orbit spares, and major ongoing enhancements to the network infrastructure, Iridium is in a strong position to continue providing high reliability through 2015, when the first of our "Iridium NEXT" next-generation satellites are scheduled to be launched into orbit. In addition, it is important to remember that Iridium phones are not cell phones, but they do cover the entire Earth's surface, where cellphones actually cover only less than 10 percent of the Earth's surface.
With respect to 16-year-old sailor Abby Sunderland, the facts are that she used her Iridium phone from the Indian Ocean on June 10th to speak with her parents to relay the good news she had successfully repaired her engine. Shortly thereafter a massive wave flooded her boat, disabled her engine and damaged her phone in the process. Huffington Post's readers can read Abby's account and Abby mentions Iridium on her own website.
Iridium has more than 375,000 subscribers, many of whom depend on Iridium for reliable mission-critical communications day-in and day-out. They include first responders rushing to the aid of earthquake and hurricane victims, firefighters struggling against wildfires, ships on the high seas, aircraft flying across wide open spaces, medical evacuation helicopters transferring patients to a hospital, oil and gas workers in the far northern regions of Alaska and -- yes -- soldiers on combat duty in Afghanistan and other places around the world. Iridium is proud to provide reliable communications services globally to all of these diverse users of our system.
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