Hybrid cellular-satellite service from AT&T and TerreStar


AT&T and TerreStar have joined forces to give you a cellular phone that doubles as a satellite phone at an affordable price.

Because satellite phones from way back and even up until now, have been generally bulky and expensive, consumers aren’t very keen on having one in their homes or workplaces.

This partnership however, will change that and cellular-satellite phones may become a common gadget today.

Launched in July, TerreStar manufactured a slim-dual mode smartphone that has a full QWERTY keyboard and runs on Windows Mobile. It can send and received emails and can be customized with your choice of apps.

Users who want to get this will have to sign up with standard voice and data packages from AT&T and you can opt to the have the satellite service option with an additional $24.99.

Voice calls via satellite will cost around 60 cents per minute while data sent via satellite will be $5 per megabyte. Chris Hill, AT&T’s VP of mobility product management, assured the public that this pricing is roughly 50% less than other satellite offerings.

“Most companies have procured a satellite phone for their executives in case of an emergency, but most of those are probably sitting in a desk somewhere and you’d have to spend some time with the manual learning how to operate it,” said Hill. “The intent is to have a device that is exactly like the service you use today… plus having that capability to go into satellite mode when you need it.”

The companies are targeting the homeland defense, homeland security and public safety organizations as well as utility and transportation companies, maritime companies and other enterprises who wants to have another way of contacting others in case cellular service isn’t available such as during natural disasters.

The hybrid service from AT&T and TerreStar will hopefully be available by early part of 2010. Pricing for the device however is still unknown.

Source: http://www.informationweek.com/news/personal_tech/smartphones/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=220300516