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Motorola may delay full Iridium service

Limited trial now likely from September 23 deadline

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Motorola is backing away from full commercial availability of its Iridium satellite phone system this month, according to US reports. Iridium is due to go into service on September 23, and the launch of five satellites yesterday brought the network closer to completion, but the deadline seems to be too tight. Although the company has said the first calls on Iridium will be made via a Motorola satellite handset, few people have actually seen this piece of hardware yet. And although Motorola says the network is now operational, it concedes that one satellite is experiencing "operational difficulties," and will be replaced. The company says this does not however affect the performance of the network. Motorola has launched 79 satellites in total to achieve its target of 72 operational, and will launch a further five in total. Motorola also says that its ground gateways are "planned to be operational when commercial service becomes available," but doesn't specify when this will be. Reportedly the company is now planning to announce a limited trial of 5,000 handset units at an eye-watering $4,000 a pop. But the calls will be free until Iridium is really commercial. * As The Register went to press, reports surfaced in Asia that Iridium will now go live on 1 November. ®

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