Satellite communication has been around since the late 1950s when the Soviet Union launched Sputnik 1, the world’s first artificial satellite, into orbit. The industry and its technology has evolved exponentially since then to exist and be used in today’s world in hundreds of different applications and devices. Today, the key satellite communication networks that modern satellite devices utilise are: Iridium, Inmarsat, Globalstar, and Thuraya.

What is a Satellite Communication Device?

Anything that lets a user or carrier communicate with another person or object through satellite transmission can be considered a satellite communication device. It doesn’t have to be an Inmarsat satellite phone or Motorola two-way radio, it can be something like an asset tracker which can monitor the status and movement levels of a fixed or mobile asset, and can do so from any location on the planet depending on which satellite network it uses.

Difference Between Satellite Phones and Cell Phones

Arguably, one of the key differences between the world’s leading smartphones and the market’s best satellite phone options is connectivity. With a cell phone, you can obviously only communicate with someone else when within range of nearby cell towers. However, satellite phones let you take and receive calls from even the most remote locations in the world, including the Poles. They can also trigger SOS alerts, like the Iridium Extreme® satellite phone, for example. If an emergency situation unfolds, a rescue mission can be setup and executed at the press of a button.

The Functionality of Cell Phones & Satellite Phones

Whereas cell phones are primarily used for leisure and communication between friends and family, the primary function of a satellite phone is when extreme circumstances demand it. Anything from coordinating a team of rescuers in the wake of a natural disaster, to rescuing lone-worker operatives from remote locations, satellite phones come with a restricted set of features because of their specific use.

Cellular vs. Satellite Communication Devices – Pros and Cons

Below we list, clearly and simply, the benefits and drawbacks of cellular and satellite phones in order to help paint a picture of the different devices.

Cellular Phones Pros

  • Built-in apps for leisure and productivity
  • High megapixel cameras
  • Monthly device payment plans

Cellular Phones Cons

  • Cannot be used beyond the reach of cellular connectivity
  • No-to-limited SOS functionality
  • Not designed for harsh environments

Satellite Phones Pros

  • Some models can be used to communicate from any location on the planet
  • Satellite phone rental is available from GTC
  • Can be used to trigger rescue missions to remote locations

Satellite Phones Cons

  • Costly to buy a satellite phone
  • Limited functionality
  • Reception can be poor or patchy

As always, if you have any questions about satellite phones or satellite communication devices in general, we are here to help. To speak to one of our expert advisors, contact us via:

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