updated 05:05 pm EDT, Fri April 3, 2009
AT&T TerreStar phone
AT&T has plans to launch a hybrid smartphone capable of both 3G and satellite connections sometime in 2009, reports say. Working in conjunction with TerreStar, a provider of voice and data networks via satellite, the branded handset will have coverage in the mainland US as well as Canada, Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. It is being marketed mainly at travelers and sailors, who would not otherwise receive a signal in many remote areas.
TerreStar is also planning to sell its services to the government once it launches a second satellite, but the company is expected to concentrate solely on North America rather than pursue an international market.
The phone, designed by Elektrobit, is a QWERTY brick that features a 2.6-inch touchscreen, and runs on the Windows Mobile 6.1 operating system. Unlike traditional satellite phones, there is no large external folding antenna, and the device is only marginally thicker than competitors such as the BlackBerry. The unnamed device will however only offer a 1.5-hour talk time, and data service through the aging GPRS standard. Call quality is expected to be on par with existing VoIP systems, as the phone operates on the same principle.
The handset will carry an unsubsidized price tag between $700 and $800. [via DVICE]