TerraStar Sat Phone Service Provides Files Chapter 11

Well, another one hasn't bitten the dust (so to speak), but TerraStar has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in order to better handle the incredible debt load it has amassed. For those who aren't immediately familiar with that name, TerraStar is a company that hosts satellites into space in order to provide cell phone-like services to very remote regions of the world. Sat phones aren't new (they've been in James Bond movies forever), but TerraStar was somehow hoping to sell their services to more mainstream consumers.

Just recently, the Genus satellite phone handset went on sale at AT&T, but the pricing (for both phone and service) was way, way above what most any general customer would be willing to pay. TerraStar probably knew this was a niche service reserved for only a few who travel to remote regions, but now the company and a dozen affiliates have sought protection from creditors.

Currently, the copany has $1.4b in assets and $1.64b in liabilities (as of June 30, anyway), and Chief Executive Jeffrey Epstein was quoted as saying that "filing chapter 11 was a necessary and prudent step to strengthen our balance sheet and gain financial flexibility in order to access liquidity and position TerreStar Networks as a stronger, healthier company."

It's unclear what the future holds for TerraStar and for consumer-level sat phone operations. Pricing will obviously have to come down somewhat for it to become more of a mass-market thing, but that's unlikely given the high cost of building and launching a satellite into space. Best of luck, TerraStar, we need all the communication options we can get.