Earth to Satellite: Can You Hear Me Now?

By Cindy Waxer September 22, 2010

After nearly a year’s worth of delays, AT&T Mobility is finally offering TerreStar Network’s hybrid smartphone that can uplink to a satellite if the device fails to connect with a cellular service. The dual-mode smartphone is geared towards enterprise, government and small business customers with its promise of excellent coverage – and a hefty $799 price tag. Although not requiring a contract, the smartphone does call for both a cellular voice and data plan, with additional satellite coverage available for $25 per month and 65 cents per minute. Satellite text messages are only 40 cents, but the cost of web surfing is a staggering $5 per megabyte.

Dubbed the TerreStar GENUS, the dual-mode smartphone delivers wireless communications coverage in remote areas for government, energy, utility, transportation and maritime users, as well as backup satellite communications capabilities for public safety agencies, first responders and disaster recovery groups. By expanding voice and data roaming coverage via satellite, AT&T Mobility and TerreStar hope to tap into companies’ spend on business continuity plans.

According to an AT&T Business Continuity Study conducted earlier this year, businesses are stepping up their technology investment and efforts in disaster planning and business continuity programs despite the economy; and mobile devices are increasingly part of business continuity plans.

“We understand the importance to stay connected in remote locations and especially in emergency situations, and today's announcement is the latest example of AT&T's commitment to delivering the highest levels of service, quality and reliability for customers,” said Michael Antieri, president, Advanced Enterprise Mobility Solutions, AT&T Business Solutions, in a statement. “With this expansion of AT&T's innovative mobility portfolio, AT&T is helping businesses and government agencies stay connected with a single device, single support contact and single bill.”

The TerreStar GENUS is powered by Microsoft Windows Mobile 6.5, includes a touchscreen, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth capabilities, a camera and GPS.  While a consumer version of the phone is in the works, satellite phones for average Joes haven’t exactly taken the market by storm in light of today’s widespread cellular coverage.

Edited by Erin Harrison

TechZone360 Contributing Editor

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