INDUSTRY WATCH

ridium Airborne

Motorola dished out a heaping dose of crow to critics and naysayers who had pronounced Iridium DOA, announcing last week it has raised an additional $733 million in new equity capital for the project. Iridium Inc., a four-year-old company formed by Motorola, plans to launch 66 small satellites into orbit and construct a $3.4 billion global wireless phone network.

With a total of $1.57 billion now earmarked for Iridium, Motorola will raise the remainder of the capital through debt offerings. While Motorola was forced to increase its stake in Iridium from 15 to 28 percent, and doesn't plan to initiate service until 1998, two years behind schedule, the wireless industry was nonetheless flabbergasted at the company's achievement, which puts it well ahead of rivals. The newest members of the international Iridium consortium include German, Korean and Latin American investors.

Sorry, Wrong Company

Nary a year after becoming the first Baby Bell to purchase its very own cable company, Southwestern Bell is reportedly trying to sell the system to large cable concerns. After shelling out $650 million for Hauser Communications' two cable systems and 220,000 metropolitan Washington subscribers, the fickle Bell asked for permission to offer local telephone service with Bell Atlantic. If Southwestern Bell does indeed download its cable properties, it would preclude the first instance of internecine warfare among Baby Bells in the local loop.

From Russia with Fiber

AT&T has announced a $400 million, four-year contract with three Russian telcos to modernize Moscow's telephone network. AT&T, together with two local carriers, Telmos and Moscow Local Telephone Network, and Rostelecom, Russia's long-distance company, will expand and improve Moscow's local and domestic long distance service for residential and business use, as well as the infrastructure's ability to handle international traffic. AT&T will supply advanced digital switches and fiber optic cables to replace Moscow's aging analog networks.

Comsat Prevails

Comsat Corp. successfully defeated lawsuits by stockholders of the former Radiation Systems Inc. challenging the Bethesda, Md., company's acquisition of RSI. A Nevada judge dismissed the litigation brought by shareholders of the Sterling, Va.-based RSI, which Comsat bought in June.


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