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Globalstar Sat-Fi Turns Wi-Fi Devices Into Satellite Phones

By - Source: Globalstar | B 7 comments

Here's a way to stay connected when traveling outside your wireless carrier's network.

Last week Globalstar introduced Sat-Fi, an upcoming voice and data solution that allows consumers to access the Internet, make calls and send texts with their own Wi-Fi devices when outside their wireless carrier's range. The new service is compatible with smartphones, tablets, laptops and so on thanks to a hot spot device and app.

According to the company, two billion people live, work or play beyond the range of terrestrial networks. These include emergency responders, recreational or commercial boat owners, avid outdoor recreationalists and so on. Needless to say, there's a market for satellite-based networking.

"Whether on land or at sea, Sat-Fi subscribers will be able to maintain constant, reliable connectivity when traveling in and out of cellular coverage with seamless handoff capabilities, while permitting numerous individuals to communicate through a single Sat-Fi hot spot using their existing devices and phone numbers," reads the company's press release.

Unfortunately, the details are slim for now. Based on the description, users will receive a hotspot that connects to the company's new satellite constellation. How many simultaneous connections the hotspot can handle is unknown at this point, but the app will likely provide the calling (VoIP?) and texting aspect.

"Now that we have completed the deployment of our new constellation, Sat-Fi will have global appeal to those who need reliable connectivity beyond the cellular grid," says Jay Monroe, Chairman and CEO of Globalstar. "As we continue to seamlessly integrate our satellite services into the everyday lives of our increasingly expanding subscriber base, this scalable technology represents a giant leap forward in achieving this fundamental goal."

However, don't start writing hate mail to your wireless carrier just yet. Globalstar still needs a final FCC certification, which is expected to be granted in 2Q 2014. After that, the company will market and sell the product offering through its enterprise, government and consumer distribution network.

Do we really need satellite-based networking? Will users be able to dump their existing wireless carriers? Globalstar isn't pitching the service as a replacement, but as a secondary connection. However, there's a good chance that prices may keep customers from leaving their carriers completely. We'll find out this spring/summer.

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  • 1 Hide
    MANOFKRYPTONAK , February 2, 2014 2:21 PM
    This is amazing! My Father and I will go hunting for a week or two in AK, and there is no one around and cell phone service.. FORGET ABOUT IT!
  • 1 Hide
    Simelane , February 2, 2014 10:41 PM
    This will fail faster than Iridium... I don't know what you people in North America smoke, but here in the rest of the world, where we use real Satellite Phones, we can tell you that if there is no GSM roaming service... there is definitely going to be no Wi-Fi service.
  • 0 Hide
    Floflo81 , February 3, 2014 1:58 AM
    Quote:
    This will fail faster than Iridium... I don't know what you people in North America smoke, but here in the rest of the world, where we use real Satellite Phones, we can tell you that if there is no GSM roaming service... there is definitely going to be no Wi-Fi service.
    ... I don't know if you're serious or just joking.But just in case: do you know what a Wi-Fi hotspot is?
  • -1 Hide
    Blazer1985 , February 3, 2014 4:03 AM
    Actually the title seems to be pretty misleading.. Looks like you get kind of a satellite phone/wireless router that for a yearly subscription of one gazillion allowes you to speak with other people through your wifi enabled/app supported device. Kind of.
  • 0 Hide
    Blazer1985 , February 3, 2014 4:23 AM
    Or, if you prefer, one fifillion per minute and strange enough rules. At least that's what the market offers righr now, let's hope in something new.
  • -1 Hide
    teh_chem , February 3, 2014 7:30 AM
    Quote:
    This will fail faster than Iridium... I don't know what you people in North America smoke, but here in the rest of the world, where we use real Satellite Phones, we can tell you that if there is no GSM roaming service... there is definitely going to be no Wi-Fi service.
    The source didn't explain it very well, but I inferred that with this service, you get a satellite-signal-based wifi device, with which you can connect your phone/device via wifi, and then through some hocus-pocus magic, I assume/hope people would be able to reach you at your same phone number, and you'd be able to dial out with your same number.That being said, I am finding it difficult to see how this will make it to the prime-time. The potential market must be so small, I don't see how it would be affordable--if it even makes it through regulation and then the ability to integrate with cell providers, looks like an impossible battle.
  • 1 Hide
    southernshark , February 3, 2014 7:32 AM
    I've got some questions about this service. First of all, where will it work?I lived in Northern Alaska for a couple years and looked into Sat internet service. The only company that provided coverage up there was HughesNet, which used the high orbit satellites. With those, because of the distances involved, VOiP did not work. You could get fast downloads but the ping was so high that gaming and voice over didn't work. Now the low orbit sat services work better, or so I'm told but the coverage area is much smaller.

    There are a couple companies that provide low orbit satellite service, but they don't cover the entire globe. In fact, most of the satellite internet companies you see advertised on the net use low orbit satellites, which are superior where they provide coverage, but they aren't global. There are large parts of the Northern Hemisphere and even larger parts of the Southern Hemisphere which have no coverage, and probably won't anytime soon. Only the companies, like HughesNet which use high orbit satellites can cover the entire globe (at least at present).

    So we need a lot more details than this provides. What kind of satellites will it use and where will they be located (high or low orbit)? What is the coverage area?