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Smart Sat service caps defining year for Philippine satellite communications!

Smart Sat

The launch of Smart Sat, the latest satellite-powered communication service by wireless leader Smart Communication Inc. (Smart), aptly capped what proved to be a defining year for satellite communications in the Philippines. More details after the jump.

“As the only Philippine operator providing satellite communication services, Smart is offering the Smart Sat service as a response to the demand for satellite phones stirred by the aftermath of supertyphoon Yolanda,” said Tina Mariano, head of Smart’s Global Access Group.

“With it, Smart aims to make satellite communications accessible and affordable so more Filipinos are able to benefit from its many uses.”

Taking the lead in reconnecting typhoon-hit areas
Recorded as the strongest typhoon to ever make landfall, Yolanda washed out entire villages, toppled power lines, and knocked down communication infrastructure, rendering many areas in Eastern Visayas out of reach. It was in these dire circumstances that satellite communications provided the much-needed lifeline for affected communities.

With satellite communication facilities at its disposal, Smart took the lead in helping reconnect the worst-hit areas in Leyte and Samar by deploying over 120 satellite phones. The units were used to set up Libreng Tawag Centers for survivors, assist engineers in restoring network coverage in the affected areas, and aid government agencies and humanitarian organizations in their relief efforts.

“The disaster brought to the fore the significance of satellite communications in extreme scenarios. Suddenly, its benefits in both disaster preparation and disaster response became perceptible and realistic,” said Mariano.

From iPhone to satellite phone
Weeks after the typhoon, Smart launched the Smart Sat service, which provides subscribers with the flexibility, mobility, and connectivity of a mobile phone even at times when cellular coverage is compromised.

The service is powered by the Thuraya SatSleeve, a revolutionary portable case that transforms an iPhone 5 or iPhone 5s to a satellite device with the aid of a mobile app.

Smart has set up a reservation site for the device at www.smart.com.ph/smartsat, and is making it available starting this month.

Wide range of uses
Dependent on a network of satellites above the equator for the transmission of communication signals, satellite phones are not susceptible to extreme weather events and may work virtually anywhere in the world.

This non-land-based network makes satellite phones suitable for use by disaster agencies, as well as for critical and demanding fields like the media, military, and maritime industry.

Aware of its varied potentials, Smart initially tapped satellite communications technology in 2001 to set up Smart Tawag Centers. These were intended to connect remote areas that were then unserved or underserved by telecommunication facilities.

Carving a niche in the maritime industry
Smart subsequently offered Smart Link, the first prepaid service in the country that provided a crew-calling solution for Filipino seafarers on board vessels sailing the seas of Asia-Pacific, Indian Ocean, Middle East, Africa, and some parts of Europe and the Mediterranean.

Through Smart Link, Smart was able to carve its own niche in serving the  local maritime industry of more than 700,000 registered Filipino seafarers who comprise the largest nationality group in the worldwide seafaring workforce.

Unrivaled in providing satellite services
Although unrivaled in this particular service, Smart continued to establish strategic deals to expand and improve its suite of satellite services.

In September 2013, Smart forged a partnership with world-leading mobile satellite services provider Thuraya Telecommunications Company (Thuraya), which provides coverage in over 140 countries.

With this, Smart has expanded its satellite footprint to cover two-thirds of the world. Its services have also become accessible in the land areas and major sealanes in Asia, New Zealand, Australia, Middle East, Africa, Europe, and Indian Ocean.

Smart Marino PhonePal
Following its partnership with Thuraya, Smart launched the Marino PhonePal, a prepaid, IVR PIN-based calling service that enables seafarers to make clearer voice calls from their ships, even while in the middle of the sea. It also offers the lowest “call home” satellite rates at P18 per minute.

To date, Smart has established partnership with over  100 accredited manning agencies and  maritime organizations, schools, and training centers to promote its satellite services.  Smart has also deployed Marino Phonepal terminals to over 500 vessels in the past three months.

Growth prospects
With the increasing awareness for the use of satellite communications, Smart is optimistic in growing its satellite arm and educating Filipinos so that they can optimize the available technology and use it as necessary.

“The Smart Sat service makes satellite communications simpler and more accessible to Filipinos in various industries,” said Orlando B. Vea, Smart Chief Wireless Adviser. “With this, a communications dead spot will soon be a thing of the past for mobile users.”

For more information on Smart Sat service, visit www.smart.com.ph/smartsat.

Source: Smart Communications

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