Chunghwa Telecom launches iPhone-enabled satellite services

Taipei, April 30 (CNA) Chunghwa Telecom Co., Taiwan's largest wireless provider, on Tuesday launched mobile satellite services in cooperation with a Middle East-based operator that can turn Apple Inc.'s iPhone into a satellite phone. Users can dial or take satellite phone calls when their iPhones are combined with the "Thuraya SatSleeve," which is manufactured by Thuraya Telecommunications Co. as the world's first satellite adaptor for iPhone. Leng Tai-feng, president of Chunghwa Telecom's international business group, said the new device is expected to help boost the the company's mobile satellite services subscribers from the current 800 to 3,000 by next year. "We have found rising demand from mountain climbers and the government's rescue teams," she said at a news conference to announce the partnership between Chunghwa Telecom and Thuraya. Samer Halawi, chief executive officer of Thuraya, said the iPhone-enabled voice-only adaptor costs US$500 and is going on sale through 50 distributors globally. The company plans to launch the next generation of the adaptor in early September that will enable data services and cost US$600, allowing more applications with access to the Internet. Halawi said his company is also working on a satellite adaptor for Android-powered smartphones, but the device is unlikely to be launched this year. Established in 1997, Thuraya is a global mobile satellite service provider of voice, text and data service to two-thirds of the world's geographical area, across more than 140 countries. Thuraya is the only mobile satellite operator that offers GSM roaming services over mobile networks, with more than 350 roaming partners worldwide. The company has sold over 600,000 satellite handheld phones, giving it a 65 percent market share in the regions where it has coverage, including Europe, Africa, Central Asia, the Middle East, Asia Pacific and Australia. (By Jeffrey Wu)