Satellite Phones

marshac

American Hero
Joined
Mar 25, 2003
Messages
2,543
I've looked at Iridium, Inmarsat, etc, but nobody seems to offer what i'm looking for...

Basically what I would like is a sat phone with a prepaid SIM that can be used in case of an emergency (hurricane/earthquake kit, etc). It doesn't matter if airtime is $4+/min or if there is a nominal annual fee. Iridium seems to offer some sort of plan, but details are really really sketchy. Does anyone have any experience with such a plan?
 

Etherea1

Limp Gawd
Joined
Nov 14, 2007
Messages
274
I have an iridium, works great in remote areas but very expensive (I don't pay the bill, work does =). Also have used Thuraya satphones, and they seemed like junk to me with poor reception and battery life.
 

marshac

American Hero
Joined
Mar 25, 2003
Messages
2,543
I would like to get an Iridium setup- their low-orbit constellation that hands-off connections to inbound satellites makes for a better experience than the single-sat geosync alternatives. I was interested in TerreStar, but the only phone they offer to consumers is a WinMo 6.5 device.... i'm not sure what they were thinking when they cooked up that idea...
 

T4rd

Fully [H]
Joined
Apr 8, 2009
Messages
18,506
I used an Iridium a few times when I was deployed last. It actually worked pretty well as long as you didn't have an obstructed view of the sky. Sometimes it would take a while to get a satellite lock, but when it did, the connection was pretty reliable.
 

Blue Fox

[H]F Junkie
Joined
Jun 9, 2004
Messages
11,811
If you want LEO, Globalstar is fairly inexpensive. $500 for a handset and $20 a month for unlimited voice. It isn't that bad if you consider the fact that most other companies charge over $1000 for a handset and even their prepaid rates are quite high if you just want to keep your account active. Inmarsat would be reasonable except their cheap prepaid rates aren't available in the US.
 

marshac

American Hero
Joined
Mar 25, 2003
Messages
2,543
I had passed on Globalstar since their constellation is kinda falling apart, but the $20 deal is pretty good.... talk about a trade off- connection rates of 25% (last I heard)... I see they have a tool on their website so you can see when a bird will be overhead to take your call... for my area:

Start time End time Call duration
12:38:46 AM 12:50:56 AM 12 min 10 sec
01:17:56 AM 01:33:56 AM 16 min 0 sec
01:37:06 AM 01:51:06 AM 14 min 0 sec
01:57:06 AM 02:21:56 AM 24 min 50 sec
02:36:26 AM 02:51:16 AM 14 min 50 sec
03:18:36 AM 03:30:56 AM 12 min 20 sec

$20 though? I think i'm sold- it's just going to sit in a pelican box anyways.
 

Blue Fox

[H]F Junkie
Joined
Jun 9, 2004
Messages
11,811
Price is hard to beat. Guess that explains why it's so cheap compared to the competition. Bit amusing that you can get unlimited satellite phone service for less than regular cell phone service (even if it is impractical for general use).
 
Joined
Apr 1, 2006
Messages
2,237
I've looked at Iridium, Inmarsat, etc, but nobody seems to offer what i'm looking for...

Basically what I would like is a sat phone with a prepaid SIM that can be used in case of an emergency (hurricane/earthquake kit, etc). It doesn't matter if airtime is $4+/min or if there is a nominal annual fee. Iridium seems to offer some sort of plan, but details are really really sketchy. Does anyone have any experience with such a plan?

•••••
Did you have a chance to get one ?
•••••
 

marshac

American Hero
Joined
Mar 25, 2003
Messages
2,543
•••••
Did you have a chance to get one ?
•••••

Nope. Globalstar is essentially falling apart due to a component flaw in their satellites. Most of the available windows are provided by some backup G1 satellites GS launched fairly recently to cover some of the holes in their deteriorating constellation- as they suffer from the same flaw as the previously failed sats, it's only a matter of time before these recent additions fail as well. They did launch some of their second-gen sats at the mid/end of 2011, but the details are a little sketcky- they found some serious defects in the G2 sats' momentum wheels and said that they wouldn't launch.... but then they launched anyways. As a company Globalstar is under some serious financial stress, so I wonder if they launched despite the problems so that they would have some product to sell.... without a functional constellation, they have nothing to offer.

Inmarsat prepaid has some excellent rates, but due to some patent issue, it's not available to US customers.

Iridium is probably the best provider, but their rates are hugely expensive and prepaid SIMs are purchased in an active state- so the countdown on your 30day SIM began the day you bought it, not the day you first use it. Pretty lame.

There is also a new provider (TerreStar- operating in bankruptcy) with services offered through AT&T, but the phone is a WM6.5 device, expensive, and sat rates are impossible to find as AT&T seems to think that only the government is interested in sat phone service.

So after all the bitching about how expensive voice rates are for sat service.... you can now get fairly high-speed internet over sat for $50/mo.... and latency is low enough for VoIP. Go figure.
 
Joined
Apr 1, 2006
Messages
2,237
I talked to ATT rep - but all of them are so uneducated - and could not get any answers.
But maybe you are talking about PC "signal" from satellite and not a satellite phone ?
 

marshac

American Hero
Joined
Mar 25, 2003
Messages
2,543
I talked to ATT rep - but all of them are so uneducated - and could not get any answers.
But maybe you are talking about PC "signal" from satellite and not a satellite phone ?

Is that what they said, or are you asking me? I'm not sure which one...

If you're asking me- no, i'm not that dumb- I know the difference. Here's AT&T's brochure.

http://www.wireless.att.com/businesscenter/en_US/pdf/SAM-feature-brochure.pdf

Amazingly enough- it has rates in it, although I have no idea if these are current, esp since Dish now actually owns the satellite. It's hilarious that "interplanetary" data (slight hyperbole...) is cheaper than international data.... gotta love AT&T's rates.

Monthly
Recurring Satellite Network
Charge Pay-Per-Use Charges
$24.99 $0.65/min. for satellite voice calls
$0.40/message for satellite SMS
$5.00/MB for satellite data usage
 

c5guy

Weaksauce
Joined
Jun 27, 2004
Messages
69
I heard that Sat phone are very open to hacking... much more then cell phones
 
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