Satellite phones are versatile mobile devices that receive signals from orbiting satellites around the planet. The right satellite phone allows you to make calls or send texts practically anywhere, provided you have the right phone plan to facilitate those activities.
With so many satellite phone plans, how can you know which is right for your needs? Read on for tips on how to find the right satellite phone plan for you!
Why Do You Need a Satellite Phone?
Satellite phones are excellent choices if you frequently work outdoors or in areas that don’t work with traditional cell phones. They are also great to have during natural disasters. As noted above, satellite phones rely on satellites in low earth orbit rather than getting signals from cellular signal towers, which are more common near major metro areas.
Depending on your satellite phone, you may find that you can use your phone globally. You may need a sat phone if:
- You frequently work away from major cell towers
- You can’t afford outages due to work or other reasons
- You work a lot of the time outdoors and want a phone that can connect to the Internet wherever you go
For example, you can use a satellite phone to take incoming calls in the middle of the ocean on a boating trip. Or you can go on a remote hike in Alaska and call your friends and family in an emergency. If you need to, your monthly service plan will allow you to be dialing even in the North or South poles. The potential use cases for satellite phones are limitless.
How Do Satellite Phones Work
Satellite phones work in broadly the same way as traditional phones. They send a signal to a transmitter, then receive information back from that transmitter.
However, they connect to satellites in orbit instead of stationary cellular data towers. Most satellite phones connect to a range of satellites, so they have nearly 100% total coverage and connectivity 24/7. But the actual connectivity of a given satellite phone is contingent on the satellite phone plan you choose and sign up for.
Satellite Phone Pricing
Satellite phones can range in price like regular cell phones and mobile devices. You can get some satellite phones for a few hundred dollars, but many of the best will be closer to $1,000. Note that some satellite phone plans come with specific phone recommendations.
Specifically, with the launch of the Iridium network, satellite phones are now more available and accessible (both physically and financially). More and more people can have a satellite phone as part of their emergency kits or as a backup phone device.
What to Consider When Choosing a Satellite Phone?
- Offered Plans
- Phone Choice
- Phone Service Quality
- Width of Coverage
It’s a good idea to consider a few major factors when choosing a satellite phone. For starters, be sure to check what satellite phone plans the phone is compatible with; the last thing you want is to purchase an expensive satellite fan that only works with a plan provider that doesn’t provide coverage where you need to go.
You’ll also want to consider the functionality of the plans offered. Make sure your satellite phone number provides broadband satellite internet services and isn’t just a glorified landline that only takes voice calls.
Of course, you should also see what kinds of satellite phones are available from a given manufacturer or provider. The more phone choices available, the better, as you’ll be able to pick the ideal device for your budget and needs.
Phone Service Quality
Naturally, you should make sure any satellite phone offers excellent service quality, including good voice quality, consistent Internet connectivity, etc.
Width of Coverage
Lastly, choose a satellite phone with a plan that includes good width of coverage. Ideally, you should choose a satellite phone and phone plan that covers as close to 100% of the planet as possible.
Understanding Coverage Maps
Different satellite phone plan providers have different coverage ranges over the globe. Coverage maps may be displayed in a few different ways, such as by shading over all the countries that they provide service to.
Others may provide circles or ovals highlighting their coverage ranges around the globe. Study a satellite phone plan provider’s coverage maps before signing on the dotted line and using their services.
A Comparison of the Top Satellite Phone Plans
Finding the right satellite phone plan is key to enjoying and getting the most use out of whatever satellite phone you choose to purchase. These plans will enable satellite communications and data services, even in remote areas, though they have some key differences. Let’s compare the best satellite phone plans in detail.
Globalstar is one of the top providers of satellite phone plans and was one of the earliest in this market. The cheapest plan from Globalstar will run you $49.99 per month for just 50 minutes of talking. Still, that’s fairly affordable for a basic plan when you don’t anticipate needing your satellite phone too often.
Globalstar also offers $79.99 per month plans if you want unlimited minutes, which is extremely affordable compared to many other providers on the market today. If you want unlimited minutes, Globalstar is the way to go.
Globalstar also offers additional perks and features ranging from free voicemail services to low airtime rates. Globalstar’s coverage extends over 80% of the globe except for Africa and China, so it’s suitable for US customers.
This satellite phone plan provider offers phones ranging from $45.90 per month for 10 minutes of connectivity to $636 per month for 720 minutes. So it’s a bit more expensive compared to Globalstar plans.
However, you can take advantage of budget-friendly and customized plans if you need a payment system that works for your needs. With 90% global coverage excluding the poles for Inmarsat IsatPhones, this is one of the most comprehensive satellite phone plan providers today. It also offers free voicemail services if you get a prepaid plan or purchase a phone like the IsatPhone 2.
Iridium plans are famous, and for a good reason. The launch of the Iridium satellite network and satellite phone plan service made satellite phones much more accessible for many people. Plans range in cost from $59.99 per month for 20 mins of connectivity up to $530 a month for 500 minutes of connectivity. You can count on great Iridium phones like the Iridium 9555 to get the job done, no matter where you are.
While some Iridium plans, like Iridium Go, Iridium PTT (push-to-talk), and Iridium Extreme, aren’t the most affordable, they come with extra perks like free voicemail, regional plans for text messages or SMS messages and voice chats, and low airtime rates. Most important, Iridium plans are the only ones that grant you 100% worldwide coverage, allowing you to use your Iridium satellite phone literally anywhere on Earth.
Last are Thuraya plans, which only come in prepaid rather than monthly versions. These range from $39 per month for 12 months to $2599 a month for 12 months for 2500 units, which are what this provider uses instead of minutes.
This plan provider's bonuses include the ability to add minutes at any time and no long-term commitments. Although Thuraya offers 90% global coverage, the way its plans are set up is a little complicated, which may make it unattractive to some.
Before settling on a given satellite phone service plan, you must determine your unique needs and specific requirements. With the right satellite phone plan, your mobile device will allow you to make calls and send texts practically anywhere, making it the perfect method for staying in touch with the workplace while on the go and for other purposes.
Need a little extra assistance finding the perfect satellite phone service provider? Navi’s plan navigator service could be just the ticket. With our plan navigator service, you can analyze your current plan and find a much better match for your budget and other needs in no time. Or use our phone navigator to find the best satellite phone deal. Check it out today!
What is a Satellite Phone? | Definition from Techopedia
How Satellite Phones Work | HowStuffWorks
The Rise and Fall and Rise of Iridium | Air & Space Magazine