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China launches maritime satellite phone service

  • Friday, 27 July 2007 | News

China Transportation Telecommunications (CTT), a subsidiary of the Ministry of Communications, has announced the launch of a maritime satellite mobile phone service in Beijing.

Similar in size to common mobile phones, the maritime satellite mobile phone only weighs 210 grams, has a battery life of 42 hours in standby mode, and reportedly has all of the new functions of the latest mobile phones available for GSM or CDMA networks.

The phone will be supplied by Inmarsat and will run over the new I-4 Inmarsat satellite network, which currently has two out of three next generation satellites in orbit. The I-4 network will also carry the FleetBroadband service when it is released later this year.

Inmarsat completed the offical launch of its satellite handheld phones in mid-July, and China has been quick to follow up with its commercial launch of the system.

The satellite phone supports both marine satellite and GSM models, meaning that consumers can avoid the cost of using satellite services by reverting to the GSM system whenever they reach an area of cellular coverage.

At present, only a few developed countries in the world have opened this service, according to Michael Butler, president and chief operation officer of Inmarsat. Yang Kongyi, director of CTT, has told local media that the service covers Asia and the most part of Africa and it is expected to cover the entire world by 2008.

There are a variety of price plans available to users, with charges generally less than US$1 per minute. The phone is priced between US$2,000 to US$3,000, but this is expected to fall as production increases.

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