Bullitt taps Motorola for satellite messaging phone launch

Bullitt Group, the British manufacturer specializing in rugged mobile phones, is revealing a few more details about its two-way satellite messaging service.

As promised, it’s using the CES 2023 show in Las Vegas as the news-launching pad. Bullitt said the next device in Motorola Mobility’s Defy phone line-up will be the first smartphone to support Bullitt’s satellite messaging service.

The service will be commercially available in North America and Europe the first quarter of 2023, the company said. Australia, New Zealand, Africa and Latin America will launch sometime in the first half of 2023, with other regions following the second half of the year.

The company previously said it was using chipset supplier MediaTek, but it didn’t identify the satellite connectivity partner. It now says it will use Skylo for satellite connectivity. Skylo manages connections to devices over existing licensed GEO satellite constellations, like Inmarsat and others.

In an interview with Fierce last year, Bullitt Group co-founder Richard Wharton talked about the need for hikers, skiers and others out in the “fringe” of cellular coverage to get a reliable signal. In press materials distributed at CES this week, the firm showed a lot of images of people in the great outdoors – camping, hiking and boating – where an SOS service would come in handy.

Citing data from Opensignal, Bullit said it’s solving “a real connectivity problem,” where around 60 million Americans lose coverage for up to 25% of each day. Bullitt Satellite Messenger promises to provide a signal wherever there’s a clear view of the sky, similar to the service Qualcomm announced this week with Iridium for Android devices.  

The Bullitt service works by combining Bullitt smartphone hardware and an OTT app, Bullitt Satellite Messenger, to send messages to any smartphone. The service will first try to connect via Wi-Fi or cellular, and if neither are available, it will connect via satellite.

Bullitt said the Motorola device will be the first to include Bullitt’s two-way satellite messaging technology.

The cost of the messages will be deducted from the satellite messaging subscriber’s plan. SOS Assistance is free for the first year and subscription plans start from $4.99/month, with heavier usage plans also available.