Inmarsat's Helen Stalker unveils the IsatPhone in Singapore, June 14 ( IndiaTechOnline photo)
Now, a global satellite-phone handset from Inmarsat

Launchpad CommunicAsia:  We bring you news of the most significant tech launches and announcements at CommunicAsia this week:

From Anand Parthasarathy in Singapore

Satcom solutions leader  Inmarsat, has launched  its  first global handheld satellite phone – the  IsatPhone Pro  -- which will harness its own network to provide  world-wide  connectivity to any mobile or landbased telephone network. 

With 8 hours of talk time, 100 hours of hot standby  and  tough environmental specifications, the IsatPhone also offers GPS location sensitivity – and the ability to tag this information to every call made.

Capable of voice, text and email messaging, the phone is cannily designed to  provide the comfort of familiarity to users of  mobile phones, with GSM-style interfaces, a large keypad and  a colour screen.

“This will shake up the global handset market”, said  Helen Stalker, Inmarsat’s  Commercial Director  for Global satphone services.  Thirteen partners will  provide  the actual service in different geographies, using Inmarsat’s  phone device and satellite network.  “The network is assured  for at least 10 years  and the service will be global from Day One”, she added.

The suggested retail price for IsatPhone Pro is US$699, although pricing promotions are expected to bring the end-user price to US$500-600.

The ability to  operate in the world’s most remote and communication-challenged areas, as well as its potential as a disaster management or  strategic solutionm, is seen as the IsatPhone’s USP.

Unveiled on the sidelines of the annual CommunicAsia show in Singapore,  now on going, the phone was  offered to media reps to try out.  Voice quality  is crystal clear   and the echo or delay  caused by the over 70,000 km round trip to a geosynchronous satellite and back is barely perceptible.  $ 500 and whatever the service provider charges for connectivity, may not be a big price to pay  for places and situations where  communication is the biggest challenge-- and need.

While calls from IsatPhone and other satellite phones  can be made to numbers in India, the phones themselves  cannot be currently bought in India by lay users,  on security considerations. However such phones   are known to be sanctioned  for specific and  approved  applications, mostly connected with defence, emergency or disaster management situations.

June 14 2010