Affiliations: Omnet, Inc., PO Box 1285, Staunton, VA 24402, USA Tel.: +1 540 885 5800; Fax: +1 540 885 0132; E‐mail: R.Heinmiller@omnet.com
Abstract: The Iridium low earth orbit satellite (LEOS) system is a powerful communications tool with applications for disaster relief and recovery efforts. It requires no local ground infrastructure, uses small, low power communications units with small antennas, and has both voice and data capabilities. Coverage is truly global. While local conditions can impose a few limitations on connectivity, an Iridium user can connect from anywhere on the planet, providing only that his antenna (which can be outdoors, remote from the user's terminal) can get a clear view of the sky. Iridium provides both voice and data modes. In data mode, users can connect from one Iridium unit to another Iridium unit, to the Internet, or to the public switched telephone network (PSTN). Similarly, in voice mode, a user can call another Iridium phone, or go via the ground station and the PSTN to any phone in the world. Iridium also provides pager service. With its basic capabilities and special features, Iridium can provide individuals and groups involved in disaster relief or recovery with an efficient, low‐cost, reliable, and very portable system for communications.