Jump to content

Renting a Satellite Phone


David

Recommended Posts

We're renting a satellite phone for our trip to Mexico for various reasons. Anyway, it was my first experience with such so I thought I'd let you know about the cost. After we return, I'll let you know about the service. smile.gif

 

After looking at the options, we're getting an Iridium phone. The two-week rental is $125, but you actually get 16 days for that if you pick it up in your town (they allow 2 days for shipping, but give those to you if you pick it up).

 

It comes with a battery and charger. An extra Li-Ion battery is $10 for the length of the rental. DC charger is the same. You can get internet/data kits for WIndows machines. (I didn't get any of the extra stuff except a battery.)

 

Satellite phones all share the same "country code"--a fictional place. If someone calls that number directly, there's no charge for incoming calls beyond what your phone company would charge you for that long-distance call. Outbound calls cost $1.80/min, or $1.59/min if you prebuy a package of 30 minutes (which are non-refundable).

 

The process has been painless and professional. We used http://www.outfittersatellite.com and worked through a local office.

Link to comment

David, I'm curious why you chose Iridium over Globalstar when you made your selection? While I work for the latter I'm not intending to try to influence your decision, but just curious. Was it cost, or..?

Link to comment
David, I'm curious why you chose Iridium over Globalstar when you made your selection? While I work for the latter I'm not intending to try to influence your decision, but just curious. Was it cost, or..?

 

Seth, it was mainly the cost. The uncertainty with GlobalStar, as I understand it, is the local phone charges in Mexico that get added to your bill, and the difficulty in predicting what they will be up front.

Link to comment
We're renting a satellite phone for our trip to Mexico for various reasons. Anyway, it was my first experience with such so I thought I'd let you know about the cost. After we return, I'll let you know about the service. smile.gif

 

David,

 

Pardon my ignorance (and having just finished the book "Long Way Round" where Ewan and Charley use sat phone frequently), I was wondering. Does a Sat Phone look like a regular cell phone? or does it have that 'hot-dog' antenna on the side that I once saw years ago? Does it have the same base features (caller ID? that sort of stuff?).

 

Inquiring/just interested/minds want to know.

 

Mike O

Link to comment

Seth will probably jump in here and answer that, but from what I understand they are just a tad bulkier than a normal sized phone and use a conventional (though slightly larger) antenna. For better reception you can get a plug in antenna.

 

Seth?

Link to comment
Seth, it was mainly the cost. The uncertainty with GlobalStar, as I understand it, is the local phone charges in Mexico that get added to your bill, and the difficulty in predicting what they will be up front.

 

David, no problem in predicting the cost. Globalstar is $1.39 per minute while roaming in most countries. Voice quality on Iridium is rather poor due to their system design.

 

Do test it prior to going on your trip even if it costs you a few $$ to do so.

 

I provide tech support to end users of satellite phones, and they always call from some far flung location on a borrowed phone to report problems with a rental or just purchased satellite phone.

 

Have a great trip!

Link to comment
David, no problem in predicting the cost. Globalstar is $1.39 per minute while roaming in most countries.

 

Right. The per minute for the phone is lower, but no place I called could tell me what the added per minute cost in the various parts of Mexico were going to be, and in the end it sounded like it would be cheaper with Iridium because of that unknown.

 

Oh well. Let's hope I rented the right one! smile.gif

Link to comment
Pardon my ignorance (and having just finished the book "Long Way Round" where Ewan and Charley use sat phone frequently), I was wondering. Does a Sat Phone look like a regular cell phone? or does it have that 'hot-dog' antenna on the side that I once saw years ago? Does it have the same base features (caller ID? that sort of stuff?).

 

Inquiring/just interested/minds want to know.

 

Mike O

 

Yes, there are three handheld satellite phone providers currently operating in the world (that I am aware of). Globalstar, Iridium and Thuraya. All handsets are big by cellular standards but still very nice to have in remote locations. Yes, the antennas are like a "hot dog" and most fold out of the phone.

 

You can do a web search on the various providers and see pictures of the various handsets, as well as costs associated with operating them.

Link to comment
The uncertainty with GlobalStar, as I understand it, is the local phone charges in Mexico that get added to your bill, and the difficulty in predicting what they will be up front.

 

Hmmm, that's interesting, I wasn't aware that the charges varied in Mexico, or at least that is not what is indicated in the rate calculator on our website. But I'm in the engineering area and not billing so perhaps there is something peculiar about billing for Mexican calls that I'm unaware of. I will check this out tomorrow just for my own edification. Thanks.

 

And I know I said that I wouldn't try to influence your decision, but you might want to take a glance at this report from Frost & Sullivan, submitted to you only in the interest of science, of course.

 

Seth will probably jump in here and answer that, but from what I understand they are just a tad bulkier than a normal sized phone and use a conventional (though slightly larger) antenna. For better reception you can get a plug in antenna.

 

Yep, you got it. Probably more than a 'tad' bulkier than a cellphone considering how incredibly miniaturized cellphones are these days, but still easily portable on your belt. An antenna (about 4" long) extends when you need to make a call. And as noted there are external antennas and car kits available as the phone will only operate with a reasonably good view of the sky (similar to GPS.) Actual use of the Globalstar phone (I'm not that familar with Iridium) is just like a cellphone... just enter the number and press 'send'.

Link to comment
Out of curiosity, what kind of latency times are these phones capable of now?

 

Globalstar and Iridium are both classed as Low Earth Orbit (LEO, but not to be confused with the other LEO so often mentioned here) systems. They don't have the propagation delay that, say, the Inmarsat systems have, because they don't have the time delay to get the signal to a satellite in geostationary orbit (about 22,000 miles up, IIRC). They do add some processing delay, though.

 

OK, checking my facts at Globalstar's Technology page, I see that geosynchronous altitude is 35,800 km (22245.0818 miles. My memory wasn't far off), while Globalstar satellites are at 1500 km (932 mi). So straight line, earth-satellite-earth propagation delay is 0.24 seconds for geosynchronous and only 0.01 second for Globalstar. Maybe Seth can chime in here with some measured data.

Link to comment

The delay inherent in signal processing and switching through the the public telephone network exceeds the space segment propagation delay, and since the former factor always varies a bit I don't know that one can quote universal hard numbers, but suffice it to say that any delay is virtually unnoticeable by the user. The conversation quality is about equal to a typical terrestrial cellular connection.

Link to comment

** WARNING - Empirical data** - Satguy's coworker stopped by my office one day to chat, and he let me use the Globalstar phone and IT WAS FRIGGIN AMAZING!!!!!!!!!! No lag time, dials like a regular phone, got a signal immediately.........I would not hesitate to rent one of those things if I was going to be in a remote location.

Link to comment
We're renting a satellite phone for our trip to Mexico for various reasons.

 

Just remember, David: any place you need a satellite phone, you probably oughta have a gun, too.

thumbsup.gifgrin.gif

Pilgrim

Link to comment

I have used sat phones during some remote canoe trips in Labrador Canada and am always amazed at the clarity. I have not noticed any delay at all while using the phone. This past summer my wife commented that she thought I could be next door since the clarity was so good even though, at the time I was about 800 miles away and 200 miles from the nearest inhabited area.

Link to comment

 

...Globalstar and Iridium are both classed as Low Earth Orbit systems...propagation delay... Inmarsat systems... delay to get the signal to a satellite in geostationary orbit...geosynchronous altitude is 35,800 km (22245.0818 miles...

 

eek.gifDo you guys realize how much this sounds like Star Trek stuff? I was paying attention because my wife insists that I rent a satellite phone if I'm going to spend 3 weeks out west this summer.

Link to comment
** WARNING - Empirical data** - Satguy's coworker stopped by my office one day to chat, and he let me use the Globalstar phone and IT WAS FRIGGIN AMAZING!!!!!!!!!! No lag time, dials like a regular phone, got a signal immediately.........I would not hesitate to rent one of those things if I was going to be in a remote location.

 

Well, after all these insiders told me I should have rented from Global, I tried to switch today...but too late. tongue.gif

 

So I'll have a field report on Iridium, as planned. smile.gif

Link to comment
Just remember, David: any place you need a satellite phone, you probably oughta have a gun, too.

thumbsup.gifgrin.gif

 

Well, not wanting to attempt such with a border crossing, my solution is a knowledge of the language, some cash, a blinding flashlight, a really handy neck knife, and the ability to run faster than the four dear companions with me (named bait1, bait2, bait3, and bait4). grin.gif

Link to comment
Do you guys realize how much this sounds like Star Trek stuff? I was paying attention because my wife insists that I rent a satellite phone if I'm going to spend 3 weeks out west this summer.

 

Sorry. Once an engineer always an engineer, I guess. I used to work for Qualcomm, the developers of the Globalstar system, though I never worked on the Globalstar project.

 

But really, it isn't rocket science. It's much more complex than that! grin.gif

Link to comment

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

×
×
  • Create New...