Smart will Now Have Global Coverage, Including at Dead Spots

Smart Communications Inc. will now have a global coverage and its network will cover the previous dead spots even on the ocean, after investing more than $20 million for the deployment of mobile satellite services.

Smart chief wireless advisor Orlando Vea said Smart signed an exclusive partnership with Thuraya Telecommunications Co. of Dubai, United Arab Emirates to provide the satellite technology to its subscribers at sea.

“We are investing $20 million for this project, including infrastructure and devices. Smart is always looking at opportunities and technology that we can use to serve the underserved needs,” Vea told reporters.

“With this enhanced mobility and accessibility of our satellite services, we can serve better not only the maritime market, but also other critical and demanding fields such as the media, the military and the country’s disaster and emergency response agencies,” he said.

Among the products unveiled were the Marino PhonePal, which is the only local satellite voice call service that can provide true satellite coverage while at sea, and the upcoming SatSleeve which can transform a regular iPhone into a portable satellite phone unit in seconds.

Smart Satellite services are now accessible in the land areas and major sealanes in Asia, New Zealand, Australia, Middle East, Africa, Europe and Indian Ocean.

“Aside from giving us broader coverage, our partnership with Thuraya enables us to offer our customers a broader range of services, including text messaging and mobile data applications,” said Smart executive vice president and head of wireless consumer business Charles Lim.

The Marino Phonepal is a prepaid, interactive voice response PIN-based calling service that offers the lowest “call home” satellite rates at P18 per minute.

“The recent Maritime Labor Convention has set a requirement for ship owners and ship managers to provide affordable voice and data services to their crew,” said Tina Mariano, head of Smart’s Global Access Group.

“We have an existing fleet rollout program where we give ship managers free Marino Phonepal units for installation on their ships with Filipino crewmembers. This allows them to comply with that decree that aims to uplift sea workers’ welfare,” she said.

SatSleeve, a portable dock that allows iPhone users to switch from cellular to satellite mode, will be introduced in October. 

“This makes satellite communication simpler and more accessible to people in the media, military, mining, tourism and more. With Smart’s widest cellular coverage in the country and Thuraya’s satellite footprint that reaches even the remotest areas in the Philippines and beyond, a communications dead spot is now a thing of the past for mobile users,” Vea said.

“In a disaster-prone country like ours, we should be always ready for calamities and emergencies. Smart Satellite Services provides emergency agencies greater flexibility in responding to calamities,” said Vea.

Marino Phonepal and SatSleeve are just two of the products lined up in the portfolio of Smart Satellite Services.

Company officials are optimistic to grow the satellite business with the inclusion of other industries and the distribution of products and services to international markets.
Smart Satellite Services currently serve the local maritime industry of more than 700,000 registered Filipino seafarers who comprise the largest nationality group in the worldwide seafaring workforce.

Smart has also established partnership with 200 accredited manning agencies and leading maritime organizations, schools and training centers.

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