NOTE: IRIDIUM NEW 9575 PHONE COMING SOON
NOTE: Coverage area is your NO. 1 consideration - polar areas are hardest because the Inmarsat receiving satellite is located over the equator - low look angle over the horizon - while the Iridium satellites obit the earth from north pole to south pole and pass overhead for good signals. Prices - equipment and airtime - how much - shop online - remember to check eBay - airtime: prepaid or billed? Emergency use only and not as a tethered modem for email and data transfers? If your travel involves an area where the satphone has poor coverage - do NOT even consider that satphone - your life might depend on it.
See: http://iridium.com/default.aspx and http://www.inmarsat.com/
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Iridium and the IsatPhone Pro are satellite phones (satphones) that are a mobile phone which connect calls via orbiting satellites. Similar to terrestrial mobile phones; messaging services, low-bandwidth data transfer and voice are supported. Depending on the infrastructure of the system, coverage could include specific regions or the entire earth. Satellite phones are popular choices for expeditions into remote areas of the earth where terrestrial service does not extend. The Iridium 9555 and IsatPhone Pro are the most popular of satellite phones
The equipment known as a terminal can significantly vary depending on the provider: Iridium, Inmarsat, Globalstar. Early handsets were large and bulky with a retractable antenna. However, as technology improved the modern handset is near the size of regular mobile phones
Main Satellite Networks
There are several primary satellite networks available including Inmarsat, Iridium and Globalstar that offer similar prices for handsets and calling price per minute. The most popular of the three is the Iridium 9555 satellite phone priced around $1,200 new. The network performance varies with each handset due to the structure of working on a single network without the ability to switch to other networks.
Virtual Country Calling Codes
All satphones are assigned numbers which represent a special country calling code. The Iridium low earth orbit system is represented by the virtual country code +8816 which was given to them by the International Telecommunications Union’s Global Mobile Satellite System. When dialing on a satellite phone like the Iridium 9555 you must always remember to dial internationally with the country code you are calling in front of the number.
Disaster Response Teams
One of the biggest users of satellite phones are disaster response organizations. Since most mobile phone networks operate close to capacity during normal times, when a widespread emergency occurs, the call volumes spike. Unfortunately this is when the phone lines are needed most. Also, during natural disasters cell towers can be severely damaged bringing the network down. Therefore, satellite phones allow emergency response teams, disaster relief organizations, journalists and reporters communicate over long distances.