XOX sees market space for satellite phones

They are easier and faster to deploy than traditional cellular towers, provide wider cells and enable full earth coverage, including at sea

by S BIRRUNTHA/ pic credit: www.lowyat.net

XOX Mobile Sdn Bhd plans to launch a series of 4G and 5G phones equipped with satellite communication capabilities in the second quarter of 2020. XOX ED Steve Tan said satellite phones offer cost-effective wireless communication anywhere on earth.

“Think of them as a mobile network in the sky. They are easier and faster to deploy than traditional cellular towers, provide wider cells and enable full earth coverage, including at sea and in remote areas where cellular or 5G can never be cost-effective,” he told The Malaysian Reserve in an email reply recently.

The space-based networks also provide services during natural emergencies, so they represent a critical communication tool for government agencies and consumers.

“Between the fires in Australia, the typhoons in South Asia and earthquakes, we see a clear need for better emergency communications in our smartphone.

“By integrating a satellite modem and antenna in your everyday smartphone, we provide users connectivity everywhere on earth and access to emergency services at all times,” Tan added.

Generally, satellite phones do not weigh much and are usually about the same size as other mobile phones.

Satellite phones are not new in Malaysia. In fact, they can be purchased or rented easily from various providers available on social media and e-commerce platforms.

Satellite phone buyers are mostly government and public safety agencies, energy companies, shippers, and search and rescue organisations, according to reports.

To realise its satellite phone ambition, XOX will be partnering local firm Advance Tech Communication Sdn Bhd.

Termed XPLORE, the mobile devices are targeted at the everyday user with the additional advantage of satellite communication capabilities.

The first model, X5, will combine 18 band 4G LTE connectivity with iridium satellite networks to enable satellite messaging and emergency services.

Tan said the devices will be useful for those who may have an occasional need to travel in remote areas with poor or no coverage.

They are suitable for professionals who need to remain connected while working offshore, and for business and government agencies that use emergency communication services and safety monitoring, he said.

According to XOX, the smartphones operate on the Android system with dual SIM, 3G, 4G LTE and soon 5G network access, with additional space network access.

As a “supplementary network”, satellite connectivity is meant to be as transparent and easy to use as a regular mobile network, Tan said.

“Users can turn the satellite network on and off like they do for cellular or WiFi network access, and they can then have two-way communication and location sharing, and access to emergency services.

“We also will focus on making it more affordable. Just like roaming, users will only subscribe and pay for this new service when they need it,” he stated.

XOX plans to distribute the devices across South-East Asia through its existing partnerships in Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia. It has over 2.5 million active subscribers currently.