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Motorola could beat rivals to the punch with two-way satellite messaging

Two-way satellite texting is coming to smartphones later this quarter, and Motorola is getting in on the action.

Published onJanuary 5, 2023

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For years Bullitt Group has been making ruggedized phones in partnership with brands like CAT and Motorola, but now they’re ready for an additional new challenge. At CES 2023, the company unveiled a new messaging service it calls Bullitt Satellite Connect. We had the chance to talk to Bullitt Group about their new satellite messaging platform, which will arrive in Q1 2023.

What is Bullitt Satellite Connect exactly? As the name implies, this is a satellite service that lets users send and receive text messages, send SOS requests, and share their location via satellite. The service will be implemented in collaboration with connectivity firm Skylo and the Inmarsat constellation of satellites.

The company confirmed that the service would debut on an upcoming Motorola Defy rugged 5G smartphone. Bullitt said that more details on this phone would be made available “soon.” Nevertheless, it stands to reason that the device will arrive in Q1 2023, alongside the satellite messaging service.

Don’t want to use this service with a Motorola phone? Then an upcoming CAT phone will indeed offer the feature as well as intelligent switching between satellite and cellular connectivity via a MediaTek chip.

So how does it all work, then?

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You’ll need a compatible device such as those coming from CAT and Motorola in order to send and receive messages over satellite, but anyone can download the app for free in order to communicate with other Bullitt users. It only supports text and emojis for now, but the company told Android Authority that images, audio, and video support would be implemented as the technology progresses.

“Anyone with the free Android or iOS application installed can receive and respond to messages sent from Bullitt Satellite Messenger over IP or satellite, and those without the app will receive messages as an SMS, with an invitation to download the app to respond,” the company explained. Again if you don’t have a phone with satellite connectivity support, you can still use the app via Wi-Fi or a cellular connection.

Bullitt's messaging service isn't just for emergencies, messaging plans for off-grid users start at $5 a month.

The brand confirmed there are a few different plans here. First, there’s the SOS service, which is available as a free 12-month trial with a nominal fee afterward. You get unlimited SOS emergency responses but there’s also actual messaging plans to talk to friends and family in dead spots as well. The messaging packages start at $4.99 for 30 messages a month, $9.99 for 125 messages a month, and 400 for $29.99 per month. Don’t want to pay monthly? The freedom plan comes in at $60 a year and includes a total of 400 messages.

One thing we really liked about Bullitt is, unlike some other solutions, if you’re in an area with no reception you’ll automatically get important texts without having to manually check for them, as long as you have a messaging plan. This could also eat through your messages a bit faster, but the good news is the company gives you a decent amount to work with, and of course, it is possible to disable the app from fetching the messages automatically.

A Bullitt representative confirmed to us that the service will launch in Europe and North America in Q1 2023, followed by Africa, Australia, New Zealand, and Latin America at some point in the first half of 2023. Other markets will follow in the second half of the year.

Next: The best of CES 2023 Awards