Filipino mobile operator Smart Communications has signed a contract with global satellite company Inmarsat to expand the coverage of its satellite communications services. No financial details were disclosed, other than to say that Smart has spent USD5 million to set up a satellite gateway outside Metro Manila. The deal with Inmarsat will complement Smart’s existing pre-pay satellite voice service, SMARTlink. Commenting on the deal Smart President and CEO Napoleon Nazareno said: ‘By 2009, we will further expand the coverage for the SMARTLink pre-paid service to be virtually global by utilising the full Inmarsat-4 constellation.’
Smart hopes to double the current SMARTlink subscriber base of 60,000 as a result of the deal and has introduced a new satellite handset with a built-in pre-paid card slot. The handset, priced at around PHP14,000 (USD312.2), can accommodate multiple users, with the company looking to target Filipino seafarers, each of whom spends an estimated USD40 per month on communications services.