Motorola Scheduling Destruction of Iridium Network : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Wednesday August 23 5:23 PM ET Motorola Scheduling Destruction of Iridium Network

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Cellular telephone manufacturer Motorola Inc. (NYSE:MOT - news) said on Wednesday it was finalizing a schedule to destroy the 66 satellites of Iridium LLC because the bankrupt satellite telephone it backed failed to find a buyer.

A bankruptcy court hearing originally set for Wednesday to discuss possible takever bids for Iridium had been canceled because no qualified buyers emerged, said Motorola spokesman Scott Wyman said.

``We're putting together a final schedule to decommission the (satellite) constellation,'' Wyman said. ``It's costing us several millions of dollars of month to maintain the network.''

Motorola said the decommission schedule has not yet been completed. There was no target date to start de-orbiting the network and allowing billions of dollars of communications gear burn up in Earth's atmosphere.

The U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York in March gave Motorola permission to destroy the satellites, Wyman said. Motorola declined to comment on the cost or the time required to destroy the $5 billion network.

A representative of Iridium, which shut down its service to customers in March, was not immediately available to comment.

Iridium, which filed for bankruptcy last year, has been searching for a buyer since March, when wireless telephone pioneer Craig McCaw scrapped a $600 million rescue plan.

In July, Merchant bank Castle Harlan said it dropped its $50 million bid to buy Iridium because it doubted the company -- which once promised communications service to anyone, at any time, anywhere in the world -- would be able to produce steady revenues.

Iridium struggled to attract subscribers for its pricey worldwide telephone service. Critics said the telephones, which cost $3,000, were too bulky and inconvenient because they required a separate antenna for use indoors or in cars.

-- Martin Thompson (, August 24, 2000

Moderation questions? read the FAQ