After nearly a year of waiting — and several quarters of delays — AT&T has finally launched its dual-mode cellular- and satellite-capable Windows Phone 6.5 handset, the TerreStar Genus. The candybar-style device with front-facing QWERTY keyboard operates on AT&T’s 3G HSPA network when available, but can be transferred over to satellite mode in areas which lack coverage, enabling users to continue making calls as well as sending/receiving messages and data (at least in the U.S., Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands and territorial waters). It’s not immediately clear if the phone is capable of seamless handoffs between the two networks, but we suspect that it’s not.
Interestingly, it appears that the Genus is running Windows Phone 6.5.3 based on the position of the Start Menu, although besides its GPS, WiFi, and Bluetooth radios, AT&T is being pretty stingy with the specs. (We do know that there’s a camera of some unspecified resolution, although apparently America’s second largest carrier didn’t get that marketing memo from Microsoft, as it’s still referring to Redmond’s smartphone OS as ‘Windows Mobile’.) The TerreStar Genus is available immediately through enterprise, government, and small business channels, and although pricing is not being disclosed, we’d previously heard figures in the $700 range (handset only, naturally).
Update: According to Engadget, which contacted AT&T directly, the phone itself goes for $800, but the real money is apparently in satellite data delivery, which goes for $5-per-megabyte. Sat calling rates are a bit more palatable, but still pricey at 65 cents-per-minute, while text messages run 40 cents-a-pop. (via: Engadget)