AT&T launches TerreStar's Genus cellular-satellite phone

AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) launched the long-awaited Genus smartphone from satellite service provider TerreStar. The device, which provides dual-mode satellite and cellular service, will be available to enterprise and government customers, and will provide users with a line of sight to TerreStar's satellite and provide ubiquitous voice and data roaming across the United States (including Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands and territorial waters).

Terrestar genusHowever, the Genus comes with several caveats and a steep price tag. Users will have to be outdoors to access the satellite service, and data speeds on the satellite service will be much slower than on AT&T's data network. The Genus will cost $799 without a contract, but will require customers to sign up for AT&T's voice and mobile data plans. Additionally, users will have to pay $25 per month extra for the ability to switch over to the satellite service--and users will have to pay 65 cents per minute for voice calls via satellite and $5 per MB of data. The phone runs Windows Mobile 6.5 and has a full Qwerty keyboard and WiFi.

AT&T first announced in June 2009 it would resell TerreStar's service.

In August, Reuters reported that TerreStar was working with advisors from Blackstone Group to try to avoid filing for bankruptcy. The company said in a regulatory filing Aug. 6 that it may have to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy if it is unable to restructure its debt.

In other AT&T news, the carrier announced new devices for its prepaid mobile broadband offering. The company launched a notebook and a netbook from Acer and a netbook from Dell. The company is offering prepaid mobile data plans in three flavors: a $15 daily pass for 100 MB; a $30 weekly pass for 300 MB and a $50 monthly pass for 1 GB of data. AT&T also launched new Quick Start services, which include AT&T ConnecTech technical support service starting at $49.

For more:
- see this AP article on Terrestar
- see this Engadget post
- see this release

Related Articles:
Report: TerreStar hires restructuring advisors
AT&T will resell service from satellite provider
TerreStar will launch satellite July 1
AT&T launches prepaid mobile broadband offerings