By simply slipping your smartphone into a special sleeve, you can turn your mobile handset into a fully operational satellite phone capable of making voice calls, text messaging and handling mobile apps like Facebook and Twitter.
This breakthrough service is part of the suite of new services made possible by the partnership of Philippine mobile phone leader Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart) and world-leading mobile satellite services provider Thuraya Telecommunications Company (Thuraya).
Smart has officially unveiled today the Marino PhonePal, the only local satellite voice call service that can provide true satellite coverage while at sea, and the upcoming SatSleeve which can transform a regular smartphone into a portable satellite phone unit.
“In 2002, Smart made satellite communication affordable for the Filipino maritime workforce,” said Orlando B. Vea, chief wireless advisor for Smart. “Now, with new satellite devices and a new partner in Thuraya, we are making satellite communications even more accessible and useful to more Filipinos, not just to provide communications at sea, but also to help deliver seamless communication service in other underserved areas in the country, or in times of disasters or calamities.”
With Smart’s strategic partnership with Thuraya, Smart Satellite Services are now available in two-thirds of the Earth’s surface. This includes the land mass and sea areas of Asia, New Zealand, Australia, Middle East, Africa, Europe, and Indian Ocean.
Initially, Smart will offer two satellite phone services. The first is the Marino Phonepal, a prepaid, IVR PIN-based calling service that enables seafarers to make voice calls from their ships, even while in the middle of the sea beyond the reach of cellular signals.
The other new product that will be offered soon is the SatSleeve – a portable dock that allows iPhone users to switch from cellular to satellite mode just by mounting the phone into the device. It has call, SMS and data capabilities allowing users to use the phone just like they would in the normal cellular coverage.
The SatSleeve will be initially available for iPhone 4, 4S and 5 models. Soon, SatSleeve models for Android devices will be developed.
Smart is also now partnering with national agencies and select humanitarian and rescue organizations for the use of the SatSleeve in disaster preparedness and emergency communications.
Smart Satellite Services gives emergency agencies greater flexibility in responding to calamities.