A modern satellite/cellular smartphone is being developed, and Bullitt Group believes it is in the lead.

Bullitt, a smartphone made by the British business, will be the first to integrate MediaTek’s 3GPP NTN (Non-Terrestrial Network) chipset, according to an announcement made today.

It’s all relatively new to the industry as a whole because NTN was originally incorporated in the 3GPP in Release 17.

MediaTek asserts that the 3GPP NTN standard enables device manufacturers to access satellite connectivity by combining cellular and satellite connectivity in a single device. Bullitt promotes its product as having a free SOS feature and using OTT satellite service to offer a messaging service.

“We are very proud of having created the two-way satellite messaging technology used in this first commercially available phone and for being the pioneers in creating the ecosystem based on 3GPP NTN standards for satellite communication,” said JC Hsu, corporate vice president and general manager of the Wireless Communications Business Unit at MediaTek, in a statement.

Bullitt, a company that has been making tough phones for more than ten years, plans to release its first smartphone with satellite-to-mobile communications in the first quarter of 2023. The Bullitt device will reportedly be released in North America and Europe first, with the rest of the world soon after.

Bullitt and its aspirations for satellite phones mostly went unnoticed until the BBC reported in September that the business hoped to compete with other initiatives by Apple and Elon Musk. At the time, the business acknowledged that it was collaborating with a top chip manufacturer but withheld the manufacturer’s identity.

Bullitt’s satellite-connected service initially will enable users to send and receive text messages only, but it’s two-way, so it’s more useful than Apple’s service with Globalstar, executives said. It’s also going to use existing satellites, rather than the up-and-coming ones that Musk plans for his undertaking with T-Mobile.

Bullitt’s launch, though, is still shrouded in secrecy in many ways. There are no particular satellite constellations mentioned. Although it doesn’t mention prices, it claims that there won’t be any barriers to satellite access due to cost.

Bullitt claims that the software in their devices is sophisticated and only uses the satellite link in the absence of a cellular or Wi-Fi connection. According to the firm, it takes roughly 10 seconds to connect to the satellite for the first time and deliver a message.

The business must submit the device to the FCC for certification before launching it in the United States. Additionally, it will probably need to test out its gadget with a U.S. carrier, which, based on past experience, can take some time, but they are hopeful.

According to Richard Wharton, a co-founder of the Bullitt Group, both American and Canadian carriers are aware that they are unable to completely cover the earth’s surface. He reiterated that Bullitt anticipates launching with North American carriers in 2023 and added, “The carriers get this. Additionally, no one has been officially named for that.

Under the auspices of trademark licenses from Motorola and Cat (Caterpillar Inc.), Bullitt designs and produces mobile phones. It wouldn’t be a huge leap to imagine them entering the satellite phone market given that their customer base includes people that operate largely outside, such as those in construction, emergency services, and other fields.

In addition to continually keeping an eye on satellite space, Wharton claimed that they have a thorough awareness of the people who use phones outside of coverage areas and they’ve always had an eye on the satellite space. A couple of years ago, they set out to develop the solution, and now they’re in a position, having completed much of the heavy lifting, where they think they’re significantly ahead of competing endeavors.

“We feel there’s absolutely a need for mission-critical users, for business-critical users, to drive efficiencies, to save lives,” he said. In fact, he claimed there is a sizable market for consumers who require a dependable signal in a remote location, including skiers, hikers, mountain bike riders, fishers, survivalists, and more.

More information ought to be accessible quite shortly because plans call for a significant reveal at CES in January.