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    US company, Iridium Satellite LLC has announced the availability of
    its global satellite voice and data communications solution for
    affordable crew calling services to the maritime industry. Iridium's
    crew calling program simultaneously supports pre-paid calling for
    individual crew members and subscription services for a vessel's
    official communications. The new crew calling solution allows both
    official and personal communications from a single phone whilst
    eliminating the need for the tracking of calls and the manual
    processing of bills to support both functions. The crew calling plan
    delivers one of the most affordable communications options to the
    maritime market today with flat rate prising and no roaming or zone
    charges and truly global coverage.

    Quadrant Iridium Limited has a 16% interest in the US company,
    Iridium Holdings LLC, the holding company for Iridium Satellite LLC.
    Following is the text of a press release made by Iridium Satellite
    LLC today. Also included is the text from an article from Lloyds of
    London Press Limited dealing with telephone calls made by crew
    members whilst on board ship.

    P MacLeod




    ARLINGTON, Virginia. - April 22, 2002 Iridium Satellite LLC, the
    only provider of global voice and data communications, today
    announced the availability of affordable crew calling services for
    the maritime industry. In response to customer demand for more cost
    effective and efficient ways to manage on-ship call operations,
    Iridium's crew calling solution simultaneously supports pre-paid
    calling for individual crew members and subscription services for a
    vessel's official communications. The new service simplifies the
    burdensome task of managing fleet communications costs.

    Iridium's new crew calling program allows vessel owners and operators
    to provide both official and personal communications from a single
    phone. Vessel operators can provide pre-paid scratch cards to
    individual crew members to allow for personal calling, while
    eliminating the arduous process of tracking those costs. For official
    business, the captain and crew can use the same phone for
    subscription-based calls. This eliminates the need to manually
    process complicated bills or to purchase additional equipment to
    support the two functions.

    "By reducing the administrative burden of monitoring each crew
    member's calls, this new platform of services will help shipping
    businesses cut back on operating expenditures while providing an
    affordable convenience that benefits crew morale and productivity,"
    said Charlene King, executive vice president for marketing and
    channel management at Iridium Satellite. "While prohibitive costs and
    complicated pricing schemes have limited the use of other satellite
    systems for crew calling purposes, Iridium's affordable, flat-rate
    pricing makes it ideal for crew morale programs."

    The crew calling plan offers the same global, flat rate pricing that
    is the basis for all of Iridium Satellite's services. With no roaming
    or zone charges and some of the lowest prices available for satellite
    calls, the crew calling plan delivers one of the most affordable and
    flexible communications options available to the maritime market
    today, and the only one with truly global coverage.

    Beginning immediately, Iridium will offer the new crew calling
    services through its global network of service providers. The initial
    service providers include GloCall, Stratos, European Datacomm, Road
    post, Global Plus, Global Satellite, Infosat, Marconi, World
    Communications Center, GeoLink, Fibertel, Marlink and AST.


    SENDING out a team of clipboard-armed, middle-class, middle-aged
    ladies to ask ships' crews about their calling habits was always
    going to lead to some tricky moments and so it proved.

    A report by Gilmour Research, commissioned by Inmarsat to find out
    the size of the crew calling market, makes fascinating reading, an
    insight into the lives of working seafarers and where they keep their
    mobile phones. The clipboard ladies, donning hardhats and fluorescent
    vests over the perms and twin-sets, descended on docks and climbed
    gangways. In Singapore they were almost arrested as stowaways, in the
    Netherlands they were scrutinised by suspicious customs and
    immigration and on one ship coitally interrupted a master in his
    cabin who, tucking his shirt-tails in, bawled at the first officer to
    throw them off the ship or arrest them as stowaways, "as he saw fit".
    Forced to drink industrial-strength tea with condensed milk out of
    tin mugs, the Hyacinth Buckets stuck gamely to the task and by the
    end had interviewed 125 masters, 131 officers and 347 crew. The
    report does not say whether any of the ladies had shipboard romantic
    flings or ended up marrying an interviewee but it wouldn't surprise

    Among the findings were that only 4% of ships visited had dedicated
    crew calling gear but six out 10 crew had mobile phones, even on
    tankers where the report says they should not be allowed because of
    the risks of static electricity. Crew confessed to hiding them and
    one officer pulled his out of a pocket and admitted in front of the
    master he'd had it on board for two years. Sadly, the report by
    partner' Carl contains a glaring error that our gimlet eye spotted.
    It takes a figure of $100 a month for average crewman spend on calls
    and then multiplies it by 1.8m, a figure for the total seafarer
    population derived from the ITF (a bit on the high side, we think)
    and arrives at $1.8bn a year as the total annual spend. Er, no it
    doesn't (work it out!).

    Meanwhile, the bad news for Inmarsat is that owners and managers are
    responding to the call for more crew communications facilities by
    putting rival Iridium phones on ships, they're so much cheaper.

    (c)of Lloyd's of London Press Limited 2002.

    ends - AAP

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