Monday, 20 February 2017 17:32

Sky and Space Global, SocialEco combine on $1 smartphone initiative


Nano-satellite company Sky and Space Global has signed an agreement with SocialEco, the company behind the $1 smartphone for developing countries, to explore potential markets, products and commercial opportunities to bring together SocialEco’s $1 smartphone and its own satellite network coverage in under-served and remote locations.

The two organisations will initially explore opportunities along the equatorial belt in South and Central America, Africa and Asia.

The ASX-listed Space and Global has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with SocialEco to explore the integration of one of its apps into SocialEco’s Humanity $1 Smartphone solution, along with the development of a dedicated Sky and Space Global-networked SocialEco smartphone.

Under the terms of the MOU, SocialEco and Sky and Space Global (ASX:SAS) say they aim to bring coverage to billions in under-served and remote locations. They add that 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 to an end user.

The two companies also say that following a pilot in target markets of SocialEco's $1 smartphone integrated with the SAS app, the parties will endeavour 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 nano-satellite communications network embedded in a dedicated version of SocialEco’s smartphone as a default.

Sky and Space Global chief executive, Meir Moalem, said the developing world was the key target market for the SAS-SocialEco collaboration and presented a significant commercial opportunity for Sky and Space Global.

Moalem cited a report by GSMA Intelligence, a leading mobile industry data and analytics group that represents the interests of mobile operators worldwide, that four out of every five smartphone connections worldwide would come from the developing world in 2020.

He said the report forecast that the number of smartphone connections globally would grow three-fold over the next six years, reaching six billion by 2020.

Moalem said SocialEco’s solution brings subsidised and affordable smartphones to billions of people across the globe “who otherwise would not be able to access smartphone technology, while enabling governments and businesses to digitally access and develop new 'Base of Pyramid' markets for the first time”.

“We are excited to be collaborating with SocialEco to explore the potential of embedding our communications service into SocialEco's $1 smartphone.”

SocialEco is discussing collaboration with the United Nations and individual governments and is affiliated with multiple global philanthropic organisations. Its 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.

SocialEco chief executive Theo Cosmora said,“Combining the Humanity $1 Smartphone finance and marketing system and social finance crowd sponsorship platform with Sky and Space Global’s satellite infrastructure allows SocialEco and our government, business and philanthropic partners to potentially reach billions of people living beyond the reach of current mobile networks. We look forward to working with Sky and Space Global to bring our innovative $1 smartphone and a potential $20 satellite Android smartphone to under-served regions across the globe.”

Sky and Space Global has announced plans to launch up to 200 nano-satellites from mid-2018 using the LauncherOne orbital launch vehicle with Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic.

The company says that, 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.

It claims the nano-satellites are about 80% cheaper than traditional satellites and are set to be used to disrupt the telco space by enabling the provision of cheaper voice, data and instant messaging services.

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham - retired in 2020. He is a veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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