Globalstar, which is marketing its service as a complement to land-based systems, says simpler technology is on its side. Where Iridium failed to sell its bulky "brick" phones as a one-stop service for globe-trotting executives, Globalstar is trying to reach smaller markets not served by perfectly capable cell phone systems that now cover most urban areas around the planet. This includes industrial users in fields such as oil drilling and shipping, and villages in areas with otherwise poor infrastructure. One handset supplier has even developed a heavy-duty, fixed pay phone for remote areas.
Just as bankruptcy grounded the world's first satellite phone service last week, an equally ambitious satellite service called Globalstar began a massive marketing push. Does this make sense at a time when Iridium backers are treating the current system as space junk, petitioning courts and creditors to incinerate the 66 Iridium satellites by crashing them into the Earth's atmosphere?