Optus’s business division has begun selling a sleeve that allowed an iPhone to make calls via satellite. The Thuraya SatSleeve connected to the back of an iPhone and could make satellite calls and send SMSes to any contacts in the iPhone’s address book over Thuraya’s satellite network.
The Thuraya network covered Australia, Asia, Middle East, Europe and most of Africa.
Users snapped the sleeve onto the back of their iPhone 4 or 4S and downloaded the SatSleeve app from the iTunes Store. An adapter for the iPhone 5 and 5S would be available in Australia soon, Optus said.
The $690 sleeve also doubled as a backup battery for the iPhone to extend talk and standby time. Users could also chat and update mobile apps such as Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp over a satellite connection.
The cost for satellite calls was $1.30/min and 50c per SMS.
“At this stage the SatSleeve does not have satellite data capability, however it’s something that we are currently assessing, based on customer demand,” said an Optus spokesman.
“The need to stay in touch is vitally important for our customers in remote and rural areas, especially mining and agricultural businesses, as well as government and not-for-profit organisations, whose teams in the field need to remain in contact, said Paul Sheridan, vice president of Optus Satellite, in a press release.
The SatSleeve included an SOS button that made a call to a pre-programmed number even if the iPhone wasn’t connected.