Satellite Phones Buying Guide 2020 - Everything You Need To Know Before Purchasing Online
Satellite phones are cheap and more powerful to use. They are light in weight, and you can rely on them for communication anywhere on the planet. They are coupled with airtime rates which is useful when reception is sketchy.
Choosing the right satellite phone is a difficult decision, like buying a new android or apple phone. It is important to ask someone with all the information before purchasing a satellite phone as if your normal phone is out of service then the satellite phone can help in saving you.
How does a satellite phone work?
The satellite phones do not use land-based cell towers to send and receive signals, but they use satellites. The companies that make satellite phones launch satellites into the Earth’s orbit creating a global network for the communication to happen on the ground. The satellite phone you buy sends a signal to the satellite launched into the orbit which sends it to the person you are calling. And also, if the person you are calling is using a local network, then the signal will be patched.
What Is A Dual SIM Satellite Handset?
A dual SIM Satellite Handset is the one which has a standard GSM mobile phone SIM card and a satellite service paired with the same handset. It is a very sophisticated handset which requires you to sign up for airtime services with the provider for the mobile and the satellite handset. This results in the change of the mobile number immediately.
The handset also sets the time when it will operate from satellite to mobile and vice versa. This induces some increased operational costs. It also has an inbound caller pay system which means you will pay for all the incoming satellite calls.
Types of Satellite Networks
There are two types of satellite network which are used for communication:
These satellites rotate at the same speed as the Earth’s orbit which is 37,000kms above the equator. This means that one satellite can service many countries from that position. Once the phone is connected to the satellite, it will not lose the signal to the geostationary network. The Sat phones using this network are more likely to receive a signal when they are in a canyon or gully. Sometimes it is not able to reach the north or the south poles due to its positioning.
Low Earth Orbit Satellites (LEO)
This network is not locked to a point above the Earth, but it orbits around a few hundred kilometres above its surface. This allows the satellite to do a full rotation every 90 minutes. These satellite phones work together to give a signal to the sat phone on the ground. This is made up of much larger networks than the geostationary satellites. This orbit covers the entire Earth and can receive signals in remote locations also like the north or the south pole which are closer to the equator.
Which satellite phone is right for me?
The satellite phones are non-transferable as they are coded for the particular satellite service. There are the following things which are very important when buying a satellite phone:
The time when you decide to buy a satellite phone, you should also decide on the handset and the carrier you need with it. This depends on how well you want to connect yourself to the network. It is essential to keep in mind that your closeness to the north or the south pole will decide the network you choose and connect with successfully.
Sending and receiving
Every network allows you to send and receive calls or SMS from their phones. If you want social media updates, weather reports and emails, then you have to be more specific to select the satellite device to fulfil your needs.
Semi-deployed antennas are used by most of the companies which allow the satellites to connect to the handset even when their antennas are not opened or deployed. But the battery life is more depleted on these handsets as they are powered-up all the time for the satellite to catch the signal. It is essential to choose the device carefully to see how often you can recharge it.
Plans from the Networks
Once the satellite phone is chosen, the next thing is to see which plan will be used with it. Like mobile phones, each carrier has a different program that will be used by you. The cost is different for international calls, satellite phone to satellite phone calls and also the cost per minute. The prices depend on the carrier but range from $1.15 to $3.50 per minute. But there are additional flag costs which are put in by the service provider rather than the carrier. It is vital to find a provider which does not incur this cost.
The Airtime plans provide the constant ability to be connected to the satellite phone when it is needed. A bill is provided by the carrier to see that it matches with your usage of the satellite phone. The post-paid plans are much better than the prepaid plans. But they are only better when the satellite phone is used consistently; otherwise, it can be a huge waste of money.
The prepaid plans are a trendy way to use satellite phones as they save cost and are provided in blocks of units which are cheaper when you buy. But you need to keep a note of the expiry period and manage the airtime credits. The prepaid plans are good for travellers who do not use the satellite phone much or are not sure when they are going to need it. They do not want to commit to a single plan. Most of the carriers provide the plan which is valid for one year only, and then the policy expires. This also forfeits the remaining credits.
Moreover, for the satellite phone to work, it needs a connection to the satellite. But this can be costly for the ones choosing it to keep as their landlines as some companies may charge up to $20 per minute.
The satellite phones can be a big investment as they require thorough thinking regarding their usage and also the costs that this can incur on your daily expenses. Before buying one, it is essential to research and see if you need it. It is an excellent investment for businesses working internationally.
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