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Iridium to sell new phone, other services

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Iridium Communications Inc unveiled what it called the world's most rugged satellite handset on Wednesday as part of a new suite of services designed to run off its 66-satellite global network.

The phone will work off the network that was bought for pennies on the dollar out of bankruptcy court in late 2000.

Dubbed Iridium Extreme, the new device is thinner and lighter than its predecessor phone as well as dustproof and water-resistant. It meets U.S. military standards for durability in harsh environments where other hardware might fail.

Iridium phones have been geared for military and government agents and emergency first responders. The company, based in McLean, Virginia, derives 23 percent of its revenue from the U.S. Department of Defense.

The company also said it was offering products and services that would allow Wi-Fi-enabled smartphones and tablet devices to connect on its global network.

Iridium is building a next-generation satellite system that will enable it to offer more data services. Iridium NEXT, which will include 66 operational satellites and six spare satellites in low Earth orbit, is due to be up and operational starting in 2015. The company has reserved space on each satellite for third-party payloads.

Company Chief Executive Matthew Desch will address the Reuters Aerospace and Defense Summit on Thursday.

(Reporting by Karen Jacobs and Jim Wolf, editing by Matthew Lewis)

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