AT&T is now offering a combination satellite / 3G smartphone known as the TerreStar Genus. This phone can switch from AT&T's network to a satellite and will offer coverage all over the United States. Compared to many bulky satellite phones, the TerreStar Genus looks much more like a normal smartphone. As with other satellite smartphones however, Genus users will still have to pay a premium for calling.
The phone will require regular AT&T voice and data service plans. In order to take advantage of the phone's satellite capabilities, you'll need an additional $24.99-per-month satellite plan. On top of that, you'll have to pay 65 cents per minute for voice calls. You'll also be able to send and receive data and text messages via satellite, though it will cost you $5 per megabyte and 40 cents per text message.
Initially, the phone will only be available to professional customers through business channels. However, the phone is expected to hit retail stores later this year.
The phone uses AT&T's network where it's available. In areas where cellular service may not be available, the phone will provide service in any location with a clear view of the southern sky. This includes all 50 states as well as Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the country's territorial waters. The phone won't provide coverage outside of the U.S.
The TerreStar Genus runs on Microsoft Windows 6.5 and features a 2.6-inch touchscreen as well as a hardware keyboard. The device costs $799 plus shipping and tax. A contract is not required.
Originally, AT&T planned to launch the TerreStar Genus in the first quarter of this year. The carrier cited device and network testing as reasons for the delay.