New York: Boeing has filed papers with the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) on Wednesday to develop a smartphone for people in the business of secrets. The phone, named “Black” will run an Android-variant operating system, also be compatible with other technology, and like any good spy phone will self-destruct if anyone tries to figure out its secrets. The secure phone marks an extension of the communications arm of the Chicago-based aerospace and defense contractor, which is best known for jetliners and fighter planes.
The phone runs on Android operating system. Other features include 5.2-by-2.7-inch (13.2-by-6.9 cm) handset, slightly larger than an iPhone, uses dual SIM cards to enable it to access multiple cell networks instead of a single network like a normal cellphone.
“Boeing’s Black phone will be sold primarily to government agencies and companies engaged in contractual activities with those agencies that are related to defense and homeland security,” a lawyer for the company says in a letter accompanying the filing. “The device will be marketed and sold in a manner such that low level technical and operational information about the product will not be provided to the general public. Detailed technical information distributed at trade shows will be limited or protected by non-disclosure agreements.”
Boeing writes that the device won’t be available to the consumer market and technical information on “Black” is to remain confidential or protected by non-disclosure agreements. This is most likely due to the device’s high security.
The company has been developing the phone for 36 months, said Boeing spokeswoman Rebecca Yeamans. “We saw a need for our customers in a certain market space” that Boeing could meet with its technology expertise, she said.
A sample purchase contract submitted to the FCC says the phone would be sold directly by Boeing or its agents. Yeamans said Boeing combined its own engineers with the talent of people who joined Boeing recently through acquisitions that included Argon ST Inc, Digital Receiver Technology Inc, Kestrel Enterprises Inc, Ravenwing Inc, and Solutions Made Simple Inc.
Boeing, first and foremost an aerospace company, is a huge contractor for US aircraft and combat systems, so it’s not terribly surprising that the company would move to develop a secure platform for mobile communications. What really prompted the need for the new phone, however, was BlackBerry’s nosedive. In 2013, Boeing still had over 40,000 employees using BlackBerries, and the secure platform has long been a favorite for both government employees and those who did business with it.
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