A satellite phone is a type of cellphone, but unlike other mobile phones, it provides coverage almost anywhere. It is normally more expensive than a normal cellphone due to the fact that it can make and receive calls from anywhere at any time, independent of geographical boundaries or local cellphone services.
To achieve communication, a satellite phone connects to a satellite in the orbit. This is different from a normal cellphone in that a normal cellphone will connect to a land-based and local satellite tower. Although a cellphone does use a satellite to achieve a larger communication radius, it doesn’t directly connect with a satellite.
What to expect when considering a satellite phone service?
When choosing a satellite phone (sat phone) service that best suits your needs, you should take into account the area where you will be making and receiving calls. Since coverage varies amongst the different providers, you will want to choose a provider that provides service to the area you wish to connect with. Therefore, you will want to check out both major satellite phone service providers and smaller regional providers.
Technologies used in a sat phone
Some sat phones provide global coverage so that you can send and receive messages and calls from anywhere in the world. These services use an interconnected network of geosynchronous satellites, which are present in a fixed position at high altitudes of about 20,000 miles. Thanks to the high altitude, geosynchronous satellites can provide global coverage with only 3 to 4 satellites. A number of companies utilize geosynchronous satellites, including Inmarsat, Thuraya, Terrestar, ACeS and MSAT.
The other technology used in sat phones is low earth orbiting (LEO) satellites. These satellites are present at an altitude of 400 to 700 miles. However, this method requires many more satellites to achieve the same global coverage as geosynchronous satellites. The advantage of using LEO satellites is that since they are small, it reduces the launch costs considerably. Companies that use this technology include Globalstar and Iridium.
Regional or global coverage
Some sat phone service providers offer regional coverage to certain countries or areas, while others provide global coverage. Every sat phone company provides great coverage and connectivity in their respective areas, though they need a direct line of sight from the satellite to the phone. Such service providers are also able to offer GPS capabilities and Internet connectivity as well as call forwarding and SMS services.
Where to find sat phone service providers
Internet is one of the best places to find sat phone plans that suit your requirements and combine great price and features. You can find numerous websites that offer excellent deals on service plans and handsets. You also get the choice to either purchase your very own handset or rent one. Depending on the time period you will need a sat phone for, you can choose between monthly, weekly and daily plans. Although the cost of using a sat phone is a bit higher than using a normal cellphone, you get the great advantage of staying connected with the world even in the remotest of places.