updated 05:25 pm EST, Mon November 22, 2010
TerreStar opens satellite phone to home users
TerreStar today opened the doors to its Genus satellite smartphone and began selling it to the wider public. The once work-only phone can now be bought just for personal use. Its creator imagines it being used by wilderness hikers, boaters and others who might leave cell coverage but still need to get online.
The Windows Mobile 6.5 QWERTY phone is the only known satellite smartphone and occupies the same amount of space as a typical device in spite of the always-ready voice and data link. Common features like Bluetooth, GPS and Wi-Fi have made their way into the handset, although it only has a two-megapixel camera for photos.
TerreStar is charging $1,150, significantly above the $800 contract-free price for business users. It remains locked to AT&T with the higher price. In the US, AT&T requires both a regular smartphone plan as well as a monthly satellite add-on and per-use charges.