Mobile Satellite Ventures Vice Chairman and CEO Alexander Good suggested that a cellular phone that could seamlessly migrate to a satellite network could provide a crucial backup network to first responders during major disasters that disable or wipe out commercial wireless systems or public-safety communications systems.

“Emergency responders can have access to handsets, the same size as today’s cell phones, with immediate access to both a satellite and terrestrial wireless network,” Good said in a statement. “If a first responder’s local network has been destroyed, they would be switched instantly to the satellite system.”

Public-safety communications systems in New Orleans were disabled in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina primarily due to the flooding, which caused base stations to fail and prevented technicians from accessing damaged equipment for repair. Even if repairs could have been executed, the city lost its commercial power supply during the crisis and backup generators couldn’t be re-supplied with fuel.

Good commented last week in response to Senate Commerce Committee hearings on first responder communications failures during and after the recent Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

He said first responders could be given priority access on commercial networks during emergencies; then, if the commercial network goes down or is jammed with calls, the first responders would switch to a satellite system.

“The satellite system will be comprised of two satellites above the earth at 22,300 miles-far out of the range of monster hurricanes or terror attacks,” Good said.

Good added that the satellites would use “spot beam” technology that would allow the disproportionate concentration of satellite resources on affected areas.