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SMART Launches Satellite Service for Seafarers and Satellite Sleeve That Turns Your iPhone into a Satellite Phone

SMART and Thuraya have partnered to launch a satellite voice call service, Marino PhonePal, and SatSleeve, a device that can turn an iPhone into a satellite phone. Thuraya Telecommunications is a leading satellite service provider based in the U.A.E.

Marino PhonePal, above, with active antenna (the white dome).

Marino PhonePal, above, with active antenna (the white dome).

Marino PhonePal

Marino PhonePal is currently the local satellite voice call service providing coverage while at sea. SatSleeve, meanwhile, is a mobile phone dock that transforms an iPhone into a portable satellite phone in seconds.

Marino PhonePal is a prepaid, IVR PIN-based calling service enabling seafarers to make voice calls form their ships while in the middle of the sea. Call home rates at P18 per minute.

SIM slot and programmable SOS button.

SIM slot and programmable SOS button.

“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,” says Tina Z. Mariano, head of Smart’s Global Access Group. “This allows them to comply with that decree that aims to uplift sea workers’ welfare.”

SatSleeve, above, with iPhone 5 docked. It looks so pogi-rugged, and you look important holding it, even if you have no one to call. I want one. Just because.

SatSleeve, above, with iPhone 5 docked. It looks so svelte and you look important holding it, even if you have no one to call. I want one. Just because.

SatSleeve

Currently designed to house the iPhone 4, 4S, and 5, the SatSleeve lets users switch from cellular to satellite just by mounting their iPhone on the mobile dock. The service includes call, SMS, and mobile data capabilities. Users will need to download the free SatSleeve iOS app to avail of the service while the SatSleeve is docked.

It has its own battery, which extends the docked iPhone’s own, and has a button you can press and hold to make an Emergency Call. You will need to pre-program the number first, of course.

SatSleeve with iPhone removed. The item on the right is the sleeve designed to house the iPhone. The one on the left is the sat phone unit with battery inside.

SatSleeve with iPhone removed. The item on the right is the sleeve designed to house the iPhone. The one on the left is the sat phone unit with battery inside.

“We chose to develop for the iPhone first,” said Bilal El Hammoui, Thuraya’s VP for Distribution, “because it has a long road map. It doesn’t really change much.” Asked about developing a sleeve and accompanying app for Android, he said, “Soon.”

The SatSleeve easily finds applications in the military, search and rescue operations, for adventurous mountain climbers and travelers, and in the media (so they have no excuse for filing their stories). Pricing and availability for the SatSleeve will be announced this October.

Smart and Thuraya officials show the SatSleeve that can instantly transform smartphones into a satellite phone. The SatSleeve is one of the products launched under Smart Satellite Services. Photo shows (L-R): Gibson Villanueva, Thuraya’s Account Manager for Asia;  Ahab Shamaa, Thuraya's Senior Manager for Product Distribution; Bilal El Hammoui, Thuraya's VP for Distribution; Orlando Vea, Smart's Chief Wireless Advisor; Charles Lim, Smart EVP and Head of Wireless Consumer Business; and Tina Mariano, Head of Smart's Global Access Group.

Smart and Thuraya officials show the SatSleeve that can instantly transform smartphones into a satellite phone. The SatSleeve is one of the products launched under Smart Satellite Services. Photo shows (L-R): Gibson Villanueva, Thuraya’s Account Manager for Asia; Ahab Shamaa, Thuraya’s Senior Manager for Product Distribution; Bilal El Hammoui, Thuraya’s VP for Distribution; Orlando Vea, Smart’s Chief Wireless Advisor; Charles Lim, Smart EVP and Head of Wireless Consumer Business; and Tina Mariano, Head of Smart’s Global Access Group.

Irwin Allen Rivera

Irwin Allen Rivera

Irwin Allen Rivera loves his wife's cooking so much he's now twice the man he used to be. He and his wife maintain www.storiesaboutph.com, where you can read the best short fiction in English, by Filipino authors, for free. Irwin's English essay won a Don Carlos Palanca Memorial Award for Literature in 2012. His philosophical-horror story appears in Philippine Speculative Fiction 8 (2013). He was managing editor and lead writer of Sites and Symbols 2 (2005), a coffee-table book about buildings in UP Diliman - his alma mater (BA Philosophy; MA Creative Writing continuing). He worked at the UP Diliman Information Office before shifting to web content writing full-time. His sudden fiction, "Notwithstanding Pigs," initially a Friendster testimonial, appeared in Philippines Graphic (2006) and in Very Short Stories for Harried Readers (2007).

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