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 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.
“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.”
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.
“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.
You must be logged in to post a comment.