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Satellite Phones Comparison

Before you purchase a satphone, take the time to learn about them, so you are informed about cost, service, and what to expect. Compare the different options before choosing the right satellite phone for you.

Satellite telephones are phones that use satellites orbiting the earth to send and receive signals. This allows those in remote areas without traditional cell phone coverage to stay connected. Ideal for remote travel and expeditions, in addition to regular voice calls, users can also text using satphones and, with select plans, use low-bandwidth Internet.

What Can Satellite Phone Be Used For

Satellite phones can be used for the same kinds of things as other phones. However, don’t expect all the premium features you get with smartphones. But you can trust a satellite phone to let you do the following.

  • Receiving and making phone calls with any other type of telephone.
  • Sending and receiving text messages.
  • Data usage that requires low bandwidth, such as email and light web surfing.

Comparing Plan Options

The two major types of satellite phone plans that exist are postpaid and prepaid plans. With a postpaid plan, you are conveniently billed for each service month, with additional charges for overage and long distance. In lieu of a monthly airtime plan, some satphones offer an annual price plan or seasonal price plan, to fit a variety of needs. Contracts are usually required. With a prepaid plan, you pre-purchase the number of minutes you expect to use, and then simply add more before your card expires. Such plans often have no contract. For infrequent users, they can be more affordable.

Satellite in Space

Who Can Use a Satellite Phone

While not everyone needs a satellite phone, there are many people who can benefit from the investment.

  • Residents of remote communities who are without cell phone coverage.
  • Sportsmen who enjoy offroading.
  • Adventurers who take expeditions
  • Fishermen who frequent waters where there is no cell phone coverage.
  • Hunters and outdoorsmen who spent time in undeveloped areas.
  • Mountain climbers and charter pilots.

Major Suppliers of Satellite Phones

There are major players in the satellite telephone industry. We have compiled data on the most well-known and respected suppliers to help you.

Iridium

Iridium is a global provider of satellite phones and a coverage network that even provides service all the way to the North Pole and South Pole. The satellites used for transmission of signals are considered “low earth orbit” and are not geostationary. Unfortunately, signals can sometimes be blocked by mountains, trees, and small buildings, and signal quality can vary even if you don’t move.

Globalstar

Globalstar offers both satellite phones and a coverage network that includes North America and Europe. It uses low earth orbit satellites also.

Immarsat

Immarsat provides satphones and a network of coverage that covers most of the globe, with the exception of extreme top and bottom. This means Antartica and the Arctic are not covered by Immarsat. However, the company uses geostationary satellites that are in higher orbit than the Iridium satellites, meaning calls are dropped less frequently and service is rarely blocked by tall structures, trees, and mountains.

Choosing the right satellite phone for your needs is not easy. As with any communications purchase, there are multiple options in equipment and service. With a good understanding of these options, you are equipped to make the ideal choice for your satellite phone needs.

Check out the chart below to compare some of the best satellite phones available.

  • Iridium Extreme
  • Iridium Phone
  • $1,225
  • Network:
    Low Earth Orbitting satellites
  • Text Messaging: Yes
  • Data Connectivity:Yes
  • Data Speed: 2.4 kbps
  • GPS: Yes
  • Emergency SOS: Yes
  • Display: Illuminated monochrome
  • Battery Life: 4 hours talk, 30 hour standby
  • Size: 5.5"Hx2.36"Wx1.06"D
  • Weight: 8.7 ounces
  • IsatPhone 2
  • iSat Phone
  • $850
  • Network:
    Geostationary satellites
  • Text Messaging: Yes
  • Data Connectivity:Yes
  • Data Speed: 2.4 kbps
  • GPS: Yes
  • Emergency SOS: Yes
  • Display: Color
  • Battery Life: 8 hours talk, 160 hour standby
  • Size: 6.7"Hx2"Wx1.4"D
  • Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Globalstar GSP-1700
  • Globalstar GSP-1700
  • $499
  • Network:
    Low Earth Orbitting satellites
  • Text Messaging: Yes
  • Data Connectivity: Yes
  • Data Speed: 9.6 kbps
  • GPS: Yes
  • Emergency SOS: No
  • Display: Backlit Color
  • Battery Life: 4 hours talk, 36 hour standby
  • Size: 5.3"Hx2.2"Wx1.5"D
  • Weight: 7.1 ounces
  • Globalstar SPOT Global Phone
  • Globalstar SPOT
  • $549.95
  • Network:
    Low Earth Orbitting satellites
  • Text Messaging: Yes
  • Data Connectivity: Yes, Optional
  • Data Speed: 9.6 kbps
  • GPS: Yes
  • Emergency SOS: Yes
  • Display: Backlit Color
  • Battery Life: 4 hours talk, 36 hour standby
  • Size: 5.3"Hx2.2"Wx1.5"D
  • Weight: 7.1 ounces

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