Our mobile phones have become such an everyday part of our lives, it’s almost impossible to imagine what it would be like without one. Well, in the middle of the Atlantic on an oil rig would be a good place to start, or perhaps in deepest Amazonia or even up at the top of Mount Kilimanjaro. Just spotting a ‘no service’ warning on our handsets are enough to raise the blood pressure levels a notch or two, hell it even happens in central London!
All that angst is now a thing of the past however, with the launch of Inmarsat’s first hand held satellite phone the ISatphone Pro. Once the sole domain of secret agents and government men in black, the satellite phone is now available to mere mortals, for a more than mortal price tag of between $500 – $600.
It’s splash proof, dust proof, shock resistant and able to withstand extreme temperatures from -20 up to plus 55 degrees centigrade. More than enough then for a typical day in the UK countryside. It is however aimed solely at the ‘remote environment market’ such as gas and oil engineering or the construction trade and with 8 hours talk and 100 hours stand by time, it will provide the kind of global portable communications access that has long been needed in those sectors, although as far as main stream public use is concerned, it is another stepping stone in the development of mass global communications.
It has Bluetooth connectivity (unique in this market), a high visibility colour display, text and email capability and a keypad designed to be used while you’re wearing gloves. It will be, as Inmarsat CEO Andrew Sakawaty bullishly predicts, “a game changer” for the industry. The benefits to users such as the military or remote engineering are obvious and while this all sounds very exciting and clearly a step up in mobile technology, the one thing missing so far is detailed information on call charges, something that, at the end of the day will prove crucial in such a competitive marketplace.