AT&T To Offer a Satellite Smartphone
The Genus, which will make use of both AT&T's cellular network and Terrestar's satellite network, is a hybrid phone that will provide an increased level of reliablity for its users. The phone operates like a normal cell phone under AT&T's network, but when coverage is lost, users can access Terrestar's satellite network for their voice and data needs. The phone is designed for use in the U.S., Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and territorial waters.
With the addition of satellite capabilities, the phone coverage will be much more widespread and uninterrupted than any cell phone alone. The smartphone is also much more feature-oriented than the typical satellite phone and includes a 2.6-inch touchscreen, Wi Fi, Bluetooth and GPS.
Currently, the phone's emphasis is on business users and AT&T has cited a number of users that could benefit from the added reliablity of satellite coverage such as government and utility workers. AT&T also says it's working on a consumer version.
The Genus should be available in the first quarter of next year for "enterprise, government and small business customers and their corporate liable users". No unit pricing information was yet announced, but as far as billing, satellite subscription and roaming charges will appear on customers' monthly bills along with regular cellular charges.