Iridium Launches Third Annual ‘Test Your Satellite Phone’ Week to Encourage Emergency Communications Preparedness

Iridium Satellite LLC announces the kickoff of its third annual “Test Your Satellite Phone” initiative. In partnership with The Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO) International, Iridium encourages emergency workers and first responders to prepare now to ensure that one of their most critical lifelines in a disaster – their satellite phone – works properly.

Similar to the “Change Your Clock, Change Your Battery” reminder program for smoke detectors, the goal of the Iridium Test Your Satellite Phone initiative is to increase satellite phone user preparedness and to help users confirm their satellite phones are ready to provide critical communications services before they are needed in an emergency. This has become crucial as some non-Iridium mobile satellite phone users have seen a drop in reliability and connection rates. Independent testing has verified reliable connection rates for Iridium satellite phone users. The Test Your Satellite Phone program is timed to coincide with the U.S. National Weather Service’s National Hurricane Preparedness Week which runs May 24-30, 2009.

The Test Your Satellite Phone initiative asks all satellite phone owners to call a special number – 00-1-480-752-5105 – to test their satellite phones. Callers will hear a recorded message confirming that their call was completed and offering quick tips on proper handset usage. Iridium does not charge customers for air time on their satellite phone when they call this number. Non-Iridium customers can consult with their service providers to determine what charges may apply. If customers find that their phones are not operational through this process, they should call their respective service provider.

“In the U.S. Gulf Coast areas affected by storms during the 2008 hurricane season, hundreds of subscribers made calls on the Iridium network to test their equipment and stay in communication during this critical time,” said Matt Desch, chairman and CEO, Iridium. “When news alerts of the hurricanes started appearing, network traffic more than doubled in the region, so you can see why, in times of disaster, it is critical that these satellite phone users have access to reliable satellite communications services – no matter where they are in the world. Iridium is the only satellite communications service that dependably provides a critical communications lifeline everywhere and, at this time of the year, we encourage first responders to get proper satellite phone training.”

Satellite phone testing is also an important safety precaution for government officials, businesses, educational institutions and medical facilities – anyone needing a reliable, critical means of communication when other forms of communications are unavailable.

“APCO International supports the steps taken by industry to ensure the public-safety communications community is well prepared for this hurricane season, including collaboration with the Iridium Test Your Satellite Phone Week initiative,” APCO International executive director George S. Rice, Jr. said. “It is only with reliable communications tools and training that public-safety personnel can focus on their first priority of helping the communities they have vowed to support.”

Test Your Satellite Phone information can be found at Tips and techniques available for satellite phone use and testing are included, such as:

– Test your phone monthly.
– Keep the battery charged. For optimal performance, completely discharge before fully charging.
– Ensure SIM card is locked in place. Remove the battery to check if the tray is securely positioned and locked.
– Protect the phone’s antenna. Stow the antenna in the “down position” when not in use.
– Call outside with a clear view. Avoid obstructions to the sky and the horizon such as buildings and trees.

Iridium is ideal for backup communications services when land-based, cellular and radio telecom services become inoperable due to conditions that may impact terrestrial networks. In addition, Iridium-based equipment and services are capable of being interoperable with all other emergency communications systems, including UHF and VHF radios. Iridium is a critical communications backup due to its network service quality, its truly mobile nature and its superior coverage footprint. Major relief organizations have relied on Iridium since its inception due to the global mobile satellite communications coverage that only Iridium can offer.