Iridium bounty days

Iridium Satellite LLC, one of the mobile satellite operators, reports a 23% year-to-year increase in the subscriber base. Iridium claims the number of worldwide subscribers grew from 142,000 to 175,000 in 2006 with revenue $212.4 million and EBITDA (Earnings Before Interest, Tax, Depreciation and Amortization) $53.9 million.

These are pretty good news for Iridium. The company has now been profitable for two years and claims to have sufficient cash flow to fund the development and roll-out of its next generation satellite constellation.

The initiative, named “Iridium NEXT”, envisions the launch of new satellites with advanced and new capabilities (such as imaging, navigation, weather forecasting, high-speed data and interconnection with other satellite fleets) within the next 6 to 7 years. The Wall Street Journal reports today that Iridium may spend over $2 billion for this course.

The latest Iridium news compare favorably to recent setbacks for its competitors: Thuraya and Globalstar. As a result of the SeaLaunch rocket failure in January 2007, the long awaited launch of the Thuraya-3 satellite may be delayed. Globalstar has its problems with satellites too: the company has recently revealed that the entire fleet of its satellites is vulnerable to possible amplifier deficiency as early as in 2008. As a result, the Globalstar stock plummeted over 25% in just one day on February 6, 2007. Everybody has its good and bad days.