Inmarsat launches global satellite phone

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Inmarsat has launched a mobile phone with a difference. The IsatPhone Pro connects to the firm's satellite communications network to enable users to keep in contact from almost anywhere in the world.

Available immediately through Inmarsat's distribution partners, the IsatPhone Pro is promoted as a "game changer" in the specialist communications market, with prices expected to be as low as US$500.

Target markets for the handset include the government, media, oil and gas industries and the mining and construction sectors. The phone enables users to make calls from the middle of the ocean or even in remote areas of the globe, according to Inmarsat.

The IsatPhone Pro is the first phone to be designed specifically for Inmarsat's I-4 satellite network. The unit weighs 279g and offers up to eight hours talk time plus up to 100 hours on standby. It is dust proof and splash proof, and has an operating range of -20 to 55 degrees Celsius.

"Today we have delivered a robust, affordable, professional handset for global users. IsatPhone Pro joins our award-winning portfolio of data and voice terminals, and gives us a full range of services for remote environment communications use," said Inmarsat chief executive Andrew Sukawaty.

The device offers high-quality telephony, text and email support, plus built-in GPS location with the ability to send the user's location as a text message, the firm said.

As with more conventional mobile handsets, customers will need to purchase an airtime package to use the IsatPhone Pro. Prices will vary depending on the packages offered by each distribution partner, but are expected to be around US$1 (67p) per minute, according to Inmarsat.

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