THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Vice President
VICE PRESIDENT GORE LAUNCHES NEW ERA OF GLOBAL COMMUNICATIONS TECHNOLOGY Tries New Iridium Satellite Telephone
Washington, D.C. -- Vice President Gore ushered in today a new generation of global communications technology when he telephoned Alexander Graham Bell's great-grandson from the White House Rose Garden with the new Iridium satellite telephone system, which will enable subscribers to send and receive calls from anywhere in the world with a handheld mobile phone.
The Vice President greeted Gilbert M. Grosvenor, of Hume, VA, with the famous words Bell uttered to his assistant in 1876, when they completed the first successful telephone call: "Mr. Watson, come here, I want to see you."
The U.S.-based Iridium system, which starts service on November 1, is the first of several "global mobile" phone systems to begin operating in the next few years. Satellite phone systems, along with offering convenience to business travelers, will accelerate economic development in poor countries that still cannot afford a land-based telephone infrastructure. They will also improve communications during natural disasters and other emergencies, when telephone wires and cellular towers often do not function.
"These satellite-based systems complete the telephone coverage of the earth's surface that Alexander Graham Bell began more than a century ago," the Vice President told Grosvenor, who is the retired president of National Geographic Society. "Your great-grandfather would be very proud."