SkyTerra announces next-gen satellite phone exchange plan

SkyTerra Communications of Reston, Va. has announced details of itsnext-generation satellite service, planned for 2010. Some customerssigning two or three-year contracts for next-generation services willbe able to exchange current devices for new devices free of charge orat a discount.

The company’s service area includes Canada. SkyTerra has saidcurrent customers using MSAT-G2 radios will be “eligible” to get onenext generation device for each radio they already own. Those wantingto exchange current devices for mounted devices will have to sign athree-year contract. Those wanting a new handheld device will have tosign a two-year contract.

The MSAT-G2 devices support push-to-talk and the North Americannumbering plan, plus other telephony services including voicemail.

The company said the first two of its next-generation satellites arescheduled to be launched during the first half of next year.

On its Web site it describes its next generation network as one thatintegrates satellite and cellular communications to provide “seamless”coverage in North America. Currently its network services NorthAmerica, the northern part of South America, plus Hawaii.

The company says the transition plan applies to customers withactive accounts. Enterprise customers with 10 or more activeWestinghouse or Mitsubishi terminals will get a next-generation devicefor each unit. The company promises government users with activeaccounts will get a new device, regardless of which type of device theyare currently operating.

Enterprise customers with fewer than 10 of the Westinghouse orMitsubishi devices will get a 40 per cent subsidy toward the purchaseof a new next-generation, up to a maximum subsidy of US$375 per device,the company said.

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