Satellite Phone Service
Satellite Phone Service Satellite Phone Service

Voice communications is really the background of Mobile Satellite Communications (MSS). We use satellite phones and terminals when we are out of cellular or terrestrial coverage. Although texting and tweeting are become more prevalent, voice communications remains the first choice for remote travelers or workers.

What service do I need? The first question we ask any caller is “Where will you be going?” and “What do you need to do?”.

If you are going to be traveling in North America, Globalstar, provides an excellent value opportunity. Globalstar has completed the launch of their second generation satellites, so they are ahead of Iridium in that department. Globalstar equipment is the least expensive in the market, and their airtime ranges from basic packages at $24.95 per month to unlimited calling for $150 per month. Both the Globalstar 1600 and 1700 offer Excellent Voice Quality and 9.6 Data (which is more than three times the speed of IsatPhone and Iridium data). Globalstar also uses North American Dialing codes, which means you will simply dial 1-area code-and number, while Iridium, Inmarsat and Thuraya all have International Country Codes which makes it harder (and more expensive) to place calls to the phone, and more complicated to place calls from the phone.

Globalstar recently released two Wi-Fi products. The Globalstar Sat-Fi is a Wi-Fi hub for fixed or vehicular installations, while the GSP G-9600 is a small Wi-Fi hub that attached to the GSP 1600 or 1700 to prodive easy-to-use e-mail service.

The Inmarsat IsatPhone Pro is priced in the $600 range, which makes it an excellent value for a handheld satellite phone to be used globally (except in the Northern and Southern Polar Regions). The IsatPhone Pro is sleek and compact. In addition to providing reliable voice service, the IsatPhone Pro can also display and send your position as an sms or e-mail. The latest software upgrade includes QuickDial which allows you to send your position and a pre-set message to a selected e-mail group with the push of one key. This is a significant step forward for Inmarsat IsatPhone service. Inmarsat recently introduced data services for IsatPhone, and, while the service is a little bit slow and not intended for web browsing, it will do a good job sending and receiving e-mail messages. One of the things we like most about the IsatPhone Pro is the low cost of airtime and the ability to purchase prepaid airtime cards for as little as $100.

Beam Communications is Australia has recently introduced the Terra 400 & 800 and the Oceana 400 & 800. Beam has offices in the United States and Europe, so availability is not an issue. These terminals are based on the Inmarsat IsatPhone operating system and provide excellent voice services for small vessels, fishing camps, remote cabins, etc. One of the things we like about the Terra and Oceana is that they come complete in one a box that includes the terminal, antenna and mounting kit. All you have to do is select the length cable you require for your installation, add that to your order, and you will be all set. Most weekend handymen can follow the straight forward instructions and do their own installation. The 800 version of the Terra and Oceana come with a second sim slot, which allows you to offer prepaid service to guests or third party personnel that might be visiting your camp or worksite. One downside to this is that the terminal must be re-booted after switching sim cards. We have been told this takes one to two minutes and is not a big issue.

The satellite phone service that is truly global is Iridium. The price range of their reliable 9555 handset is just over $1,000 while their new 9575 Iridium Extreme is making a big splash on the market. The Iridium Extreme, while priced in the $1,400 range, is very rugged, shock and water resistant, and has tracking ability, can send sms messages, as well as SOS distress messages. If you are a global traveler, then you will want to weigh all of the exciting features of the Iridium Extreme against the higher cost. There are some excellent videos of the Iridium Extreme at our You Tube Site. We would also welcome your comments and reviews on our Facebook and Twittersites.

Thuraya is based in Dubai and offers regional service across Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia (See the coverage map in the airtime section). The handset, priced at under $1,000, is small and compact and has a nice feel to it. Most customers purchase prepaid airtime for use with their Thuraya phone.Thuraya utilizes a 9.6 KBPS channel (like Globalstar) so it provides good voice quality and reasonable data services. If you are going to be stationed or traveling for an extended period in the coverage area, Thuraya should be considered as one of your options.

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