DoD re-ups Iridium

The Defense Department has exercised the first of three one-year options for global satellite communications, extending its original two-year contract with Iridium Satellite LLC.

"We've seen a tripling in the amount of usage" since the start of hostilities in Iraq, said Warren Brown, spokesman for the Arlington, Va., company. The satellite phones are used on Navy ships, Air Force aircraft and by infantrymen on the ground.

The Defense Information Systems Agency is the company's single largest customer. Iridium Satellite acquired the assets of the bankrupt Iridium LLC in 2000 and signed a two-year, $72 million contract with DISA for unlimited usage by up to 20,000 users. The contract included three one-year options at $36 million a year.

The Defense Department has about 15,000 users now. "We're getting to where we think this year, we will break the 20,000 user line," Brown said. At that point, the contract will be renegotiated.


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