Satellite phones are passe, of course. I use one most every day, but that's because I have special needs, and no, that does not require snickering. My special needs are my business, but if you must know, I'm at sea half of the year. I can't be bothered to learn how to use two phones, so I just use my satellite phone year round. It makes things easier for me, and that's what matters, you see.
I love gadgets and doodads, so this appealed to the inner techie in me:
AT&T Inc. plans to sell a satellite phone from TerreStar Corp. that can place calls even in the deep wilderness or at sea, the carrier said Wednesday. The TerreStar Genus phone, due in the first quarter of next year, will have all the features of a standard "smart" phone, including a touch screen, "QWERTY" keyboard, and the ability to use AT&T's ground-based wireless network. But it also will be able to connect to a TerreStar satellite for service in parts of North America where the cellular network doesn't reach, or when cell towers have been knocked out by disasters like hurricanes.
Dallas-based AT&T plans to market the phone first to business and government customers, and later to consumers. AT&T didn't disclose the price of the phone or the service. TerreStar has said before that it expects satellite calls to cost less than the roughly $1 per minute charged by existing satphone services like Iridium and Globalstar. Their phones are bulkier and lack the smart-phone capabilities of TerreStar's device, but have wider coverage. Iridium covers the whole world.
To connect to TerreStar's satellite, the phone will need a clear view of the southern sky, which means it will be difficult to use indoors.
I'm always leaning out from under things to get a better signal--this is no hardship for me. I love the idea of a QWERTY keyboard as well--it would make telling my son which hotties to post and what to say to the neighbors much easier to spell out.