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AT&T To Ship Hybrid Sat/Cellphone In Q1

AT&T will market a hybrid satellite/cellular smartphone beginning in the first quarter of 2010 to corporations, government agencies and small businesses followed sometime later by a hybrid phone for consumers, the carrier announced.

The 3G smartphone will send and receive calls via TerreStar’s voice-and-data communications satellite when terrestrial cellular coverage is unavailable in the United States, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and their territorial waters. The phone will use the same phone number whether connected to AT&T’s cellular network or TerreStar’s satellite, which launched earlier this year.

The phone and service will be AT&T-branded and sold initially to AT&T’s “government, enterprise and business customers via our sales team and co-sell solutions partners,” a spokeswoman said. “We are actively investigating what role our indirect partners can help us play in the sales to these markets or potential future consumer offerings.” Pricing wasn’t released.

The smartphone is TerreStar’s Genus smartphone, a Windows Mobile Professional 6.5 smartphone promoted as the industry’s first satellite/cellular smartphone and first satellite phone with an internal antenna. The phone uses 2.2GHz HSDPA to communicate via IP to TerreStar’s satellite, which provides service to the U.S. and Canada.

For its part, TerreStar is pursuing additional resellers for its service, which it bundles with AT&T terrestrial service.

The company sells its service and phone on a wholesale basis to companies targeting vertical markets and business. TerreStar also targets people in rural communities and outdoor adventurers.