Chiefs at rugged phone specialist Bullitt Group revealed it was open to deals with consumer handset players to take its two-way satellite connectivity technology mainstream, as it unveiled a partnership with chipmaker MediaTek for its own upcoming device.

In an interview with Mobile World Live, Bullitt co-founder Richard Wharton and chief product officer Jonathan Nattrass highlighted the company’s progress towards developing its handset, which they claim will be the first smartphone with two-way satellite messaging.

The ability to send and receive messages would be more useful than one way emergency systems already announced by other players on the market, the executives noted.

Bullitt’s satellite messaging system is said to go beyond standard emergency notifications, though still only kicks-in when standard forms of connectivity are unavailable.

Wharton said the service would be targeted at business- and mission-critical segments, adding the satellite element “provides some level of resilience if networks are going down”, citing power cuts and natural disasters as examples.

He highlighted uses for those working on the “fringes of coverage” or in situations where there is a strain on mobile network resources.

Messaging is provided through an OTT-style application on the handset and is claimed to come at a price affordable to “pretty much everybody”.

By contrast, traditional communications systems using satellites were described by Wharton as prohibitively expensive.

He also noted a “massive market in the consumer side” pointing to the large number of people trekking outside of mobile coverage and fleets of boats beyond the range of infrastructure on land.

Wharton conceded although Bullitt had the heritage and expertise to take the technology into the specialist sectors it operates in “we’re not best placed to take the technology to the consumer market”.

“We’re not naive enough to think we can compete in that horizontal market,” he added. “But we are discussing other hardware manufacturers utilising our technology.”