Smart expands satellite services to Pinoy seamen

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Smart Communications Inc., through Smart Satellite Services, will serve the local maritime industry of more than 700,000 registered Filipino seafarers who comprise the largest nationality group in the worldwide seafaring workforce.

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“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 Vea, chief wireless advisor for Smart.

Smart has also established partnership with 200 accredited manning agencies and leading maritime organizations, schools and training centers.

“In a disaster-prone country like ours, we should be always ready for calamities and emergencies. Smart Satellite Services provides emergency agencies greater flexibility in responding to calamities,” said Vea.

In line with this, Smart said that it has forged a partnership with world-leading mobile satellite services provider Thuraya Telecommunications Co. to make satellite communications services “more accessible, affordable and relevant” to a wider market.

Among the products unveiled recently is the Marino PhonePal, which are the only local satellite voice call service that can provide true satellite coverage while at sea; and the upcoming SatSleeve, which can transform a regular iPhone into a portable satellite phone unit in seconds.

With Thuraya, Smart has expanded its satellite footprint to cover two-thirds of the world. Smart Satellite Services are now accessible in the land areas and major sealanes in Asia, New Zea-land, Australia, Middle East, Africa, Europe and the Indian Ocean.

The Marino Phonepal is a prepaid, IVR PIN-based calling service that enables seafarers to make voice calls from their ships, even while in the middle of the sea. It offers the lowest “call home” satellite rates at P18 per minute. IVR PIN stands for interactive voice response-personal identification number.

The other new product that Smart will be offering soon is the SatSleeve—a portable dock that allows iPhone users to switch from cellular to satellite mode just by mounting the phone into the device. It has call, short messaging service and mobile data capabilities that allow users to use the phone just as they would in a cellular network.

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

Reaches remotest areas
The official added that, “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 is also now partnering with national agencies, and select humanitarian and rescue organizations for the use of SatSleeve in disaster preparedness and emergency communications.

Marino Phonepal and SatSleeve are just two of the products lined up in the portfolio of Smart Satellite Services. Company officials are optimistic on growing Smart’s satellite business with the inclusion of other industries and the distribution of products and services to international markets.

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