Iridium Communications, the global satellite communications company, expects to commence operations soon in Russia, after technical tests are completed and acceptance certificate received from the Russian authorities.

“Our interconnect in Russia is built and 95 percent complete, and we’ll soon be pleased to announce our new start in Russia,” Corporate Communications Director Liz DeCastro told East-West Digital News.

Iridium’s predecessor company, Iridium LLC, already operated in Russia in the 1990s before ceasing business around the world due to a bankruptcy.

“We know our service will be valuable to Russia as we are the only operator that provides 100% coverage of the globe for both voice and data communications,” DeCastro said. “Russia has vast territories where other communication means (including mobile networks) simply don’t work – and probably never will. Taking into consideration business growth in such segments as oil & gas, mining, and exploration, we aim to have a very prominent market for what we offer.”

Iridium hopes to occupy as much as 40% of the Russian market for satellite-based telephony by 2015 – a market which could amount to some $70 to $100 million by that time, according to the company.

Four operators in the running

Thuraya, another satellite phone operator headquartered in Dubai, is also resuming its operations in Russia, six years after TM SAT, its exclusive service provider in the country, lost its license for failing to meet some requirements.

According to the operator’s General Manager Samer Halawi, Thuraya will cover 80% of Russian territory – excluding on the sparsely inhabited areas of the Russian North – using two engines of its own satellite network.

Halawi also revealed that his company is considering using Glonass supporting chipsets in its mobile devices.

Two other satellite phone operators, Inmarsat and Globalstar, already operate in Russia, the news agency RIA Novosti notes.