Inmarsat enters satellite-phone business

Inmarsat has long avoided the mobile-phone satellite business, but now chairman and CEO Andy Sukawaty, former head of Sprint PCS, is pushing the company into the satellite-phone operator business by 2008. Inmarsat has long shunned the phone business, choosing to successfully serve remote users such as the maritime industry through large terminals. Inmarsat has already begun offering new high-speed data satellite services based on BGAN technology.

Adding voice to the service will have little impact; what's more interesting is the fact that the company is in talks with satellite and telecom firms about setting up alliances to create hybrid satellite and ground-based voice and data networks, or ATC networks, using the next-gen satellites it already has. That means we could see services a lot sooner than expected, and players partnering with Inmarsat would have a better cost advantage. I've said in the past that the timing and cost involved will ATC would make these players non-competitive. Sukawaty knows his way around the wireless phone business, having built up Sprint PCS' wireless business.

For more about Inmarsat's satellite phone plans:
- take a look at this article from The Wall Street Journal (sub. req.)