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Iridium launches global maritime distress and safety service

Luxembourg, 16 December 2020. – Iridium Communications launched its Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS) service, giving seafarers, “for the first time in history”, “a real-time emergency response and rescue service that works everywhere in the world”.

“No other maritime emergency response system matches the coverage and real-time communications capability of the Iridium GMDSS service,” the company said. The announcement came during a virtual press conference held featuring Iridium leadership, industry officials and experts. “It is not every day that you get to announce the launch of a service that will most certainly save lives”, Matt Desch, CEO of Iridium, said at that event.

GMDSS is an internationally regulated service, governed by the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) convention. It provides life-saving assistance to seafarers in distress and has required equipment on board more than 60,000 ships today, with many ships carrying multiple terminals. Iridium’s service functions much like an international SOS button, however, unlike other options it includes as standard real-time emergency voice calling service, distress alert (SOS button) and maritime safety information with Iridium’s unmatched truly global coverage.

Iridium’s GMDSS service is built on the company’s upgraded $3 billion satellite network, completed in 2019, and utilizes the company’s valuable L-band satellite spectrum. With over 1.4 million subscribers around the world, including communications systems on tens of thousands of ships and aircraft today, Iridium’s GMDSS service launch “epitomizes the company’s commitment and tradition of creating a safer environment for the approximately 85% of the world that lacks any or reliable cell phone coverage”, the company said.

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