Smart Communications, a cellular division of Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT), is spending USD20 million in infrastructure and devices to support its recently signed technology and services partnership deal with mobile satellite services provider Thuraya Telecommunications. In an interview with journalists this week, Smart’s lead advisor for wireless services, Orlando B Vea, said that the tie-up with the Dubai-based satellite services provider will help the company expand its satellite footprint to around 66% of the globe. Business World Online notes that through the deal, Smart hopes to extend its mobile satellite services portfolio via a range of mobile and compact devices. Thuraya will provide Smart with satellite technology for its services which are currently available in land areas and major sea transport routes in Asia, New Zealand, Australia, Middle East, Africa, Europe, and the Indian Ocean. It is understood that Thuraya will provide its SatSleeve technology, which is described as a portable dock that allows iPhone users to switch from cellular to satellite mode by mounting the phone into the device, is initially available for iPhone 4, 4S and 5 models. It will also be made available for Android devices at a later date, the telco said.
Smart has been offering its Smart Link maritime services since 2002. It currently has 150,000 subscribers and expects to increase this number three-fold as a result of the expansion, Mr Vea said.