Satnews Daily
February 21st, 2017

Smallsat Network to be Integrated Into $1 Smartphone (Sky and Space Global and SocialEco Have a Plan...)

A company with plans to launch 200 nanosatellites into space to provide affordable mobile coverage to the 4 billion people on Earth without such connectivity has signed an agreement with another company that produces a $1 "Humanity Smartphone" for the developing world.

Sky & Space Global has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with SocialEco to explore the integration of a Sky & Space Global app into SocialEco’s Humanity $1 Smartphone solution, along with the development of a dedicated Sky & Space Global-networked SocialEco smartphone. SocialEco is a London-based IT company that produces a $1 smartphone that is subsidized through the combination of a low-cost Android device with a finance and marketing platform and an inclusive social-business model. The SocialEco Humanity $1 Smartphone was developed to enable digital financial inclusion of the 4 billion people living on less than $8 per day throughout the developing world.

Under the terms of the MoU, SocialEco and Sky and Space Global are to initially explore potential markets, products and commercial opportunities to bring together SocialEco’s $1 smartphone and SAS’s network coverage. Together, the parties aim to bring coverage to billions of people across the globe in underserved and remote locations along the equatorial belt.

Following a pilot in target markets of SocialEco's $1 smartphone integrated with the SAS app, the parties will endeavor to collaborate on the development of a new, low-cost satellite Android smartphone. Under the MOU, the collaboration will have Sky and Space Global’s nanosatellite communications network embedded into a dedicated version of SocialEco’s smartphone as a default. Entry into the smartphone vertical, via a SAS-networked SocialEco Humanity $1 Smartphone, represents the integration of Sky and Space Global’s communications solution directly into an end user device and has the potential to be used by billions of people

The developing world is the key target market for the SAS-SocialEco collaboration and presents a significant commercial opportunity for Sky & Space Global. Four out of every five smartphone connections worldwide will come from the developing world in 2020, according to a new report by GSMA Intelligence, a leading mobile industry data and analytics group that represents the interests of mobile operators worldwide. The report forecasts that the number of smartphone connections globally will grow three-fold over the next six years, reaching six billion by 2020.

SocialEco is discussing collaboration with the United Nations and individual governments and is affiliated with multiple global philanthropic organizations. SocialEco’s advisory board incorporates Suvi Linden, the former Finnish Minister of Communications, current and former Gates Foundation senior officials, and global leaders in digital financial inclusion, mobile health and mobile agriculture.

Sky and Space Global plans to launch as many as 200 nano-satellites starting in mid-2018 using the LauncherOne orbital launch vehicle with Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic. Once launched, the full constellation will service equatorial countries in South and Central America, Africa and Asia, as well as airliners and shipping companies in the coverage area. The nanosatellites (about 80 percent cheaper than traditional satellites) are set to be used to disrupt the telco space by enabling the provision of cheaper voice, data and instant messaging services.

To launch its satellites, Sky & Space Global has a crack team of Israeli specialists to oversee the project. Leading them as CEO is Meir Moalem, a former fighter jet pilot turned space exploration project manager. He was the project manager for Israel’s first astronaut flight and several government operated satellite projects.

Sky & Space Global's first three satellites — the "Diamonds" — will circle 500 kilometers above Earth while in orbit. Sky and Space Global's 3 Diamonds launch provider, the Indian Space Research Organisation, completed a world record launch of 104 satellites from their launcher, PSLV-C37, on Wednesday of last week (February 15).  Following this successful launch, Sky and Space Global's 3 Diamonds will be scheduled onto the next planned ISRO launch vehicle, with the launch date to be confirmed shortly.