Smart to offer accessory that can turn iPhones into satellite phones

Smart executives turn over a unit of the iPhone-compatible SatSleeve to a member of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC).

MANILA, Philippines — With a new smartphone accessory soon to be introduced by leading telecom firm Smart Communications, the common expression known as “dead spot” in unserved areas will soon become a thing of the past.

Under an exclusive partnership with satellite services provider Thuraya, Smart will be offering a slip-on iPhone accessory called a “SatSleeve,” which will instantly convert the smartphone into a satellite phone — making it available for use even when the user is out in the middle of the sea or in some faraway island on a holiday.

Like an external iPhone case, the SatSleeve slips easily into the smartphone and attaches to a separate unit containing the satellite antenna, which acts as both a holster for the case and an external battery for the phone.

The SatSleeve, due to be released sometime in October, will not only allow voice calls via satellite networks but will enable users to communicate via text messages and access data services as well.

This opens up Smart’s satellite services, which used to solely cater to seafarers who want to establish communication back at home while out at sea, to a wider range of markets — including the tourism industry, the media sector, and in disaster relief operations.

“Since 2002, Smart Link, our legacy satellite service, has catered to over 250,000 Pinoy seafarers worldwide,” said Tina Mariano, head of Smart’s Global Access Group. “Smart’s partnership with Thuraya gives it better and wider coverage at the best rates possible in the market today.”

Smart executives remain tight-lipped about the pricing details for the SatSleeve as well as the rates for access to Thuraya’s satellite network, but promised that the cost will surely be “competitive.”

A similar service, the Marino PhonePal which caters specifically to seafarers, offers call rates at P18.00 per minute for calls to the Philippines and more than 114 countries worldwide.

Smart’s partnership with Thuraya opens up its satellite service to about two-thirds of the world — from the western part of the Pacific Ocean all the way to the European countries, executives said. Thuraya’s two satellites strategically positioned above the coverage areas will take care of the service on the ground.

“The recent Maritime Labor Convention has set a new requirement for ship owners and ship managers to provide affordable voice and data services to their crew,” Mariano explained. “We have an existing fleet rollout program where we give ship managers free Marino PhonePal units for installation on their ships with Filipino crew members. This allows them to comply with that decree that aims to uplift seafarers’ welfare.”

But aside from the maritime industry, Smart’s new satellite services also stand to benefit the country’s disaster relief and preparedness efforts, which necessitates the use of satellite phones at times when cellular networks are downed by strong typhoons and other calamities.

During the launch of the new products and services, in fact, the telecom firm donated a unit of the satellite phone to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) for its use during disaster relief operations.

“In a disaster-prone country like ours, we should always be ready for calamities and emergencies. Smart Satellite Services provides emergency agencies greater flexibility in responding to calamities,” added Orlando Vea, chief wireless advisor and co-founder of Smart.

Marino PhonePal and SatSleeve are just two of the products line up in the portfolio of Smart Satellite Services. Company officials said they are optimistic in growing the company’s satellite business with the inclusion of other industries and the distribution of more products and services to international markets.




Another discovery of Smart to give more life and feature to your smart phone, NOW Smart Telecom extend each smart phone feature and NOW you can convert your smart phone into a Satellite Mobile Phone. Sat Phone is some thing to have as one of our personal gadget that we can always bring forth.


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