What Are Satellite Phones?

Satellite phones are mobile communication devices that rely on satellites to make and receive calls, messages, emails and other data files from anywhere in the world. Some satellite phones, like an Iridium satellite phone, have truly global coverage. Unlike traditional cellular phones that require the need for terrestrial cell towers, satellite phones employ a network of orbiting satellites to establish a connection.

Satellite phones are often used in remote, isolated areas where cell coverage is non-existent, such as in the middle of the ocean or in remote wilderness areas. They are also used by emergency responders, disaster relief workers, and military personnel who need to communicate in areas where terrestrial network infrastructure has been disrupted or are not available.

Satellite phones can be more expensive than traditional cellular phones, and they require a clear line of sight to the sky in order to establish a connection with the satellites. However, they are a valuable tool for those who need to stay connected in areas where mobile phones won’t pick up a signal, and at Global Telesat Communications, we stock the world’s leading and most popular models.

Top Features of Satellite Phones

Every satellite phone comes with its own set of unique built-in features from battery endurance and coverage reach, to screen size, ruggedness and messaging ability.

Typically, the top features of a satellite phone include:

  • Global Coverage: One of the most important features of a satellite phone is its ability to achieve reliable coverage from isolated locations. Since it relies on a network of orbiting satellites, it can connect to a satellite anywhere on the planet as long as there is a clear line of sight to the sky.
  • Durability: Satellite phones are designed to withstand harsh environmental conditions such as extreme temperatures, water, and dust. They are often used in remote and rugged areas, so durability and ruggedness are essential.
  • Long battery life: Satellite phones typically have a longer battery life than traditional cellular phones. This is especially true of the Thuraya X5 Touch whose battery life is a whopping 11hrs talk time and 100hrs standby. Sat phones tend to use less power to connect to satellites than cellular phones use to connect to cell towers, and conversations are generally shorter because the airtime can be expensive, which accounts largely for why their battery lives are much greater.
  • Emergency features: Many satellite phones, such as the Iridium Extreme®, have built-in emergency features such as an SOS button that can send out distress signals with location information. This can be useful in emergency situations where help is needed quickly.
  • Data capabilities: Satellite phones can also transmit and receive data, including text messages and emails, and some models can even be used for internet browsing.
  • Portability: Satellite phones are often smaller and more portable than traditional cellular phones, making them easier to carry around in remote or off-grid areas.

Choosing the Right Satellite Phone

Deciding which satellite phone is best for you depends on several different factors, chief of which is where in the world you will be using your satellite phone. Below is a simple breakdown of each network provider’s coverage area:

  • Iridium: Global
  • Inmarsat: Global except poles
  • Thuraya: EMEA & APAC regions

Another aspect you may need to consider is cost. Generally speaking, our Thuraya handsets tend to be cheaper at just over £500 for the XT-LITE model, compared to pricier Iridium models which retail at over £1,000. However, this may become irrelevant depending on how long you need your satellite phone for (for example if you chose a short-term satellite phone rental), and how much airtime you load onto it. Our airtime packages vary greatly but can be cost-effective if you only need your phone for a short while, and would therefore require a pay-as-you-go airtime package as opposed to a rolling monthly contract.

Satellite Phones for Outdoor Enthusiasts and Adventurers

If you are an outdoor enthusiast or adventurer, a satellite phone can be an essential tool to ensure your safety and communication in remote areas without cellular coverage. Here are some of the best satellite phones for outdoor enthusiasts and adventurers:

  • Iridium 9555: The Iridium 9555 is a reliable and durable satellite phone that is designed for use in extreme environments. It is compact and lightweight, making it easy to carry in a backpack or pocket. The phone has a long battery life and is able to withstand extreme temperatures and weather conditions.
  • Inmarsat IsatPhone 2: The Inmarsat IsatPhone 2 is another popular satellite phone for outdoor enthusiasts. It has a long battery life, a durable design, and is resistant to dust, water, and shock. The phone also features GPS tracking and an emergency assistance button.
  • Thuraya X5-Touch: The Thuraya X5-Touch is a high-end satellite phone that features a large touchscreen display and runs on the Android operating system. It has a long battery life, is resistant to water and dust, and features advanced GPS capabilities. The phone also supports both satellite and GSM networks, providing greater flexibility.

Satellite Phones for Emergency Preparedness

The Iridium 9575 Extreme is similar to the Iridium 9555 but with fully certified durability standard compliance for water jet and dust protection meeting military standards (810F).

That, combined with the 99% global coverage, makes this the best satellite phone emergency rescue workers. The integrated tracking can also help with business operation or automatically reassuring relatives.

A more significant inclusion is the programmable emergency button, which is backed by the GEOS international emergency response centre, or SEND (Satellite Emergency Notification). If you lift the cap and press the button, critical rapid response will be activated and take advantage of the phone’s location data.

As always, our team of experts is here to help. So, if you need any advice about our range of satellite phones, contact us via:

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