Smart partners with Thuraya to boost satellite business



Smart and Thuraya officials show the SatSleeve, product launched under Smart Satellite Services, that can instantly transform smartphones into a satellite phone. Photo shows (L-R): Ahab Shamaa, Thuraya’s Senior Manager for Product Distribution; Bilal El Hammoui, Thuraya’s VP for Distribution; Orlando Vea, Smart’s Chief Wireless Advisor; Charles Lim, Smart EVP and Head of Wireless Consumer Business; and Tina Mariano, Head of Smart’s Global Access Group. 

On September 9, Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart) announced their official partnership with Thuraya Telecommunications Company (Thuraya), a global mobile satellite services provider.

According to Smart, the partnership was established to make satellite communications and business “more accessible, affordable and relevant” to a wider market.

The products unveiled under the partnership were the Marino PhonePal and the upcoming SatSleeve.

The Marino Phonepal is the only local satellite voice call service that can provide satellite coverage while at sea. It is a prepaid, IVR PIN-based calling service that enables seafarers to make voice calls from their ships, offering the lowest “call home” satellite rates at PHP 18 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 Z. 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.”

The SatSleeve is a product that can immediately transform a smartphone into a portable satellite phone. It is a portable dock that allows iPhone users to switch from cellular to satellite mode just by mounting the phone into the device. Its services include call, SMS and mobile data capabilities.

“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,” said Orlando B. Vea, chief wireless advisor for Smart.

“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 Charles A. Lim, Smart’s EVP and head of wireless consumer business.

“This makes satellite communication simpler and more accessible to people in the media, military, mining, tourism and more,” added Vea.“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.”

Smart also partnered with various national agencies and select humanitarian and rescue organizations for the use of the SatSleeve in disaster preparedness and emergency communications.

Smart Satellite Services are now accessible in the land areas and major sea-lanes in Asia, New Zealand, Australia, Middle East, Africa, Europe, and Indian Ocean.