Smart partners with Thuraya to boost Satellite Services
A few years back, I heard about Thuraya and their SatSleeve. What I liked about the SatSleeve is that you can slide it in your iPhone and transform it into a satellite phone instantly. Thanks to Smart, the SatSleeve will soon be available for consumers with their new strategic partnership with Thuraya.
With the rise of data service and Smart’s commitment to innovation, the time was right for Smart to improve their satellite services by partnering with Thuraya. As a result, Smart’s Satellite Services dramatically improved with an almost 100% worldwide coverage…excluding the 2 poles.
“With the enhanced mobility and accessibility of our satellite services, we can serve better not only the maritime market, but also other critical and demanding fields such as the media, the military and the country’s disaster and emergency response agencies,” said Orlando B. Vea, chief wireless advisor for Smart.
Smart Marino Phonepal
Smart prepared two products to support the market: Smart Marino Phonepal which is available now for the maritime industry and the SatSleeve which will be available in October according to Smart’s Global Access Group Head, Tina Z. Mariano.
Using the Smart Marino Phonepal, primarily a voice call device, will cost Php18/minute. SMS and data pricing models will be revealed with the launch of the SatSleeve. Currently, Smart offers the Smartlink service at a lower rate of 15PHP/min for calls and it is not clear if Smartlink will be shut down.
Ms. Mariano shared her experience using the Smart Marino Phonepal with us and the real difference, according to her, is the clarity of the sound as compared to the Smartlink service. She aptly describes it as high-definition. She also adds that the Facebook page loaded quite fast at about 2 minutes…not bad considering that you’d be in the middle of nowhere. Another usability improvement is that Thuraya’s device will no longer require users to point the antenna towards the satellite because they use an active antenna in their setup.
But I am more excited about the SatSleeve since this is the satellite phone geared for us consumers. The SatSleeve functions like a casing with a battery pack, satellite antenna, and a programmable SOS call option. So why is this potentially such a great service? This device and service will enable more reliable communication for those men and women working in the field in remote locations without having to rely on a dedicated satellite phone. I can go mountaineering (not that I do), bring an iPhone and a SatSleeve, and know that I can contact anyone when I need to.
I recall my younger sibling’s problem while doing some field work up in the mountains for a thesis… cellular signals were so hard to get by. Consequently, it was so difficult to get in touch with her during the entire stint of her field work, much to our parent’s displeasure. Smart’s Satellite Services directly addresses these scenarios. Mountaineers, adventurers, explorers, researchers, journalists, reporters, soldiers, and disaster recovery units can make use of Smart’s services for emergencies and disaster coordination without having to worry if there’s a working cell site nearby.
The SatSleeve is currently available for the iPhone 4, 4s and 5. And Bilal El Hammoui, Thuraya’s VP of Distribution says that they will be ready for Android users soon. The design on the SatSleeve is not ruggedized, but Hammoui says that the SatSleeve is a little more durable than the iPhone.
Vea said: “With Smart’s widest cellular coverage in the country and Thuraya’s satellite footprint that reaches event the remotest areas in the Philippines and beyond, a communications dead spot is now a thing of the past for mobile users.”