China’s aerospace technology company has unveiled the first satellite smartphone designed for use with the country’s first mobile communications satellite, Tiantong-1 (TT-1), media reports said. The new smartphone, developed by the state-owned China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), is scheduled to go on sale in two-to-three months, South China Morning Post reported on Sunday. CASC launched TT-1 into an equator-hugging, geostationary orbit about 35,000km above the earth on August 6, this year.
Satellite experts said the new satellite smartphone was a product of the ‘space-based Silk Road’, a long-term strategy proposed by Chinese aerospace companies, institutions and scholars to support the country’s “One Belt, One Road” initiative.
“The TT-1 smartphone is so far capable of covering the territory of China and the whole of South China Sea. We are going to expand our coverage to the whole world by launching a network of TT satellites in the next five years,” said an engineer from CASC.
According to the report, the smartphone was specially designed for emergency communication by field geologists or relief workers in remote areas, or when ground telecommunication networks were interrupted by natural disaster or accidents.
Besides satellite coverage, the smartphone is compatible with multiple ground-based cellular networks, including 4G LTE and 3G, supports SMS, WeChat, video and data transmission, and allows free switching between satellite and ground communication.
The smartphone will retail from around 10,000 yuan ($1,480), with communication fees starting from around 1 yuan a minute — a tenth of the price charged by Inmarsat.