In his speech to the ETRE conference today, Bill Owens, co-CEO and vice-chairman of Teledesic, hinted that the satellite company just might have some cash to help the troubled Iridium LLC satellite telephone and paging venture.
Teledesic, which was co-founded by Microsoft CEO Bill Gates and has partnerships with Boeing, Lockheed and Motorola, is a start-up looking to launch a LEO (low-earth orbit) system to bring fiber-like bandwidth for low-cost Internet access all over the globe. That service isn't expected to be launched until 2003 or 2004, Owens said.
Until Teledesic can deliver its own service, "there are a variety of early revenue options," Owens said.
Because of its backers, Teledesic is in a position to invest in other companies, Owens said.
"There is an advantage of having a lot of cash. And there are a lot of satellite companies in trouble we could help," Owens said.
Iridium already has a network of 66 LEO satellites and clearly comes under the definition of "troubled" after having defaulted on two loans last August, a US$800 million loan as well as another $750 million guaranteed bank loan for a total of US$1.5 billion.
Owens then specifically mentioned Iridium, saying that it was a good company for which Teledesic had a lot of respect , but he stopped short of outright saying that his company would invest in or purchase Iridium.