Look: This satellite-powered smart phone could save lives in refugee camps

The Skyphone's primary target market is humanitarian missions teams, including those working with the United Nations


Waad Barakat

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KT Photo: Waad Barakat
KT Photo: Waad Barakat

Published: Tue 23 Apr 2024, 4:33 PM

Last updated: Wed 24 Apr 2024, 3:01 PM

Whether in the city or on a humanitarian mission where data connections are often down, this waterproof and dust-resistant smartphone will always be connected through a satellite.

The Skyphone, announced to be launched in September, aims to streamline civil defence, humanitarian missions, and save more lives.

"Over 126 million people need humanitarian assistance globally, including 70 million forcibly displaced. In order for governments and the global community to deliver humanitarian responses and on-time medical help, it comes down to the significant role of satellite communication," stated Nabil Ben Soussia, a spokesperson for Group CCO, IEC Telecom Group at the Dubai International Humanitarian Aid and Development Conference and Exhibition (DIHAD) held on Tuesday.

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"What we hope to do is reduce the communication gap for people living outside the city, in places with no coverage, and for those who work in areas without coverage," he explained. "Whether it's a refugee camp, a remote village, or an emergency situation, Skyphone provides a reliable and seamless user experience, ensuring constant connectivity and facilitating effective communication."

Nabil (Photo: Supplied)
Nabil (Photo: Supplied)

He further emphasised the importance of the Skyphone for humanitarian missions. "In conflict areas, the infrastructure disappears, so you need satellite communication to guide the way and keep in contact with teams to facilitate missions," Nabil said. "The Skyphone allows you to move to another place with no coverage or infrastructure and still have satellite communication coverage. It provides an essential lifeline for aid teams working in challenging environments."

Standard satellite phones - Thuraya (KT Photo: Waad Barakat)
Standard satellite phones - Thuraya (KT Photo: Waad Barakat)

The Skyphone's primary target market is humanitarian missions teams, including those working with the United Nations in areas ranging from cities to refugee camps. In conflict zones or areas where infrastructure is scarce, smartphone satellite connectivity becomes vital for guiding rescue missions, maintaining contact with teams, and facilitating effective disaster management. The phone's extended coverage ensures users remain connected even in remote and infrastructure-deficient locations.

While it primarily caters to humanitarian missions, it also offers benefits in daily life. Individuals living outside city areas with limited coverage can rely on smartphones for communication. Additionally, professionals working in locations without coverage, such as civil defence and military personnel, can rely on the Skyphone to maintain communication during emergencies or interruptions in traditional network connections.

The soon to be launched smartphone can operate in two modes. In satellite mode, Skyphone will enable users to make phone calls and send SMS messages. In GSM mode, Skyphone, like any other smartphone, allows users to utilise applications, send emails, make phone calls, and receive SMS messages. It can operate on GSM networks in urban areas and seamlessly switch to satellite connectivity in areas with limited or no coverage, such as deserts or rural communities.


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