Motorola tells Iridium customers to expect the worst

Buyer must be found by 15 March - or else...

Iridium's deadline - and never was a word more appropriate - to find a buyer or liquidate has been extended to 15 March, Motorola has told the troubled satellite venture's customers. "Unless a qualified buyer comes forward and provides additional funding by March 15, 2000, we do not expect Iridium service to be available after 11:59 p.m. EST on March 17, 2000," customers were told in a letter from Motorola's cellular service division sent out on Monday. That will effectively mark the end of Iridium. At that point Motorola will begin decommissioning Iridium's network of satellites, a prospect Iridium itself raised on Monday when it announced a $3m cash injection from its lenders intended to keep the company operational until tomorrow. Details of Motorola's letter emerged, courtesy of Reuters, as Nippon Iridium, the Japanese joint venture between Iridium, DDI and Kyocera said it had stopped taking new subscriptions - though we'd be surprised if there were and new subscribers to turn away - and would soon begin buying back handsets from existing customers. It's not yet known whether Motorola will buy back handsets too, but given its exposure to Iridium, we doubt it. ®

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