Upcoming Motorola Defy will be Bullitt’s first phone with satellite text messaging service

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Motorola and Bullitt announce the next Motorola Defy smartphone that will be the first phone to support Bullitt’s new satellite emergency messaging service. This emergency messaging service works with the Bullitt Satellite Messenger app and geostationary satellites from Inmarsat, among others.

Bullitt developed a special modem chip for the Sattelite Connect service in collaboration with Mediatek, separate from the normal 5G modem. A suitable device also contains an extra antenna. The two-way satellite messaging service works through the Bullitt Satellite Messenger app on the device. With that app, users can send messages of up to 140 characters long, share their location with a click or send an SOS message. The app first checks whether it can be connected to a WiFi network or a mobile network. If this does not work, the app will search for a satellite connection. Such a satellite connection requires the user to have a view of the sky, but it is not necessary to aim the phone, because Bullitt uses geostationary satellites. The message arrives as an SMS to the recipient and to supported phones via the Messenger app.

For the service, Bullitt collaborates with Skylo, which built and operates the network. That network uses geostationary satellites from Inmarsat, among others. Bullitt developed the Messenger app itself. The SOS function is free for the first twelve months. To send other messages, users pay at least five dollars per month for 30 messages.

Bullitt announced the service in November, saying at the time that sending a message would take about ten seconds. The company demonstrated this in practice at CES, using pre-production models of the Motorola Defy, the first phone that will support the new satellite text messaging service. Bullitt previously made a Defy smartphone under the Motorola brand and gave no further details about that new phone, other than to say it will be announced at the upcoming Mobile World Congress trade show at the end of February.

In the past year, several smartphone companies have indicated they are working on satellite messaging services. Bullitt claims the Defy will be the first rugged smartphone to support a satellite messaging service. Bullitt’s service will initially be available in Europe and North America, with other regions to follow later this year.

Update 9:35 am: Post has been updated with information from the fair.

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