Mobile

Secretive Boeing Black smartphone appears on FCC website

Boeing, which said nearly two years ago it was developing a super-secure Android smartphone, apparently is getting ready to release it.  

In a Feb. 24 filing with the Federal Communications Commission, the company said what it called the Boeing Company Black Smartphone has undergone testing to meet FCC standards.

Boeing, traditionally known for its work on space satellites and military and commercial aircraft, is keeping most details about the phone secret, but the dual-SIM smartphone will use micro-SIM cards and will support GSM, WCDMA, and LTE. And although the company had said it was working on a Android phone, the FCC filing makes no mention of the operating system.

A dual-SIM mobile phone allows users to use two SIM cards, giving them the ability to switch between business and private use without having to carry two separate phones.

In a request to the FCC for confidential treatment, company officials asked that everything from internal photos to the operational description remain confidential, citing the need to maintain a competitive edge.

In an effort to maintain permanent confidentiality, Boeing has followed FCC guidance and effectively sealed the device — disassembly would destroy the product. The Black is held together by both epoxy and tamper-proof screws, and any attempt to break open the casing would also trigger something akin to a self-destruct function, deleting the phone’s software and data and rendering it inoperable.

The document also notes that the Black will be primarily marketed to government agencies and contractors in the defense and homeland security industries as a means of secure communication. The device will be sold (at a so-far undisclosed price) in a way that technical and operational information will not be provided to the general public.

When company officials first confirmed they were developing the phone, then called the “Boeing Phone,” they said their goal was to make a device that was less expensive than other highly secure, encrypted smartphones, National Defense Magazine reported at the time. Similar devices typically go for $15,000 to $20,000, a company official said. Boeing wanted to bring that price down, though not all the way to consumer smartphone prices.

 

About the Author

Joey Cheng is an editorial fellow with Defense Systems.

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