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Topic: Satellite phones, Anyone have experience with them?< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 16 2013, 9:22 pm  Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

We go 'out' twice a month.  We have someone to stay with my mom and our critters.  I need to be able to be reached in case of an emergency but cell phone service is spotty at best, usually non existent, where we backpack.
Would a satellite phone be cost effective for 8-10 days per month?
Thanks.


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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 16 2013, 9:46 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

$50 a month for 10 minutes of service plus the initial $2250 for an iridium phone?  I guess you have to decide how much it is worth to you.  

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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 16 2013, 9:58 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

The one I was looking at was  $1145 and $1.50 per minute.  If there was an additional per month charge I didn't see it.
Is it worth it to me?  Yes, I don't want to give up my passion, nor my responsibilities.  
Life's choices seem to get harder, rather than easier, the older I get.


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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 16 2013, 10:27 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Well, then, I guess you have your answer.  None of us know your exact circumstances.  $1150 seems like a cheap insurance policy, allowing you peace of mind while you are out there.  I suppose you have ruled out renting?  Seems like every couple of years the technology changes significantly.  If you only need it in case you Mother takes a turn for the worse, renting might be the way to go.

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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 16 2013, 10:49 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I would consider renting.  
I also wonder about efficiency.  I should have included that in my post, sorry.  I've never used one so I don't know if they work everywhere every time.
No point in it if it won't do the job I need done.
I'm thinking it would be a reasonable solution for me but since I have no actual experience with one, I was asking for advice from people who have used one.


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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 17 2013, 10:51 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

They're good but not perfect. The satellite systems orbit so coverage varies by location on the planet. Check coverage maps and information for where you'll be going and judge whether the performance is adequate to your requirements.
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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 17 2013, 8:27 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

You can get a perfectly fine Iridium phone MUCH less than $2250.00. You can get 'em for less than $1150 if you want. There are usually quite a few on ebay for less than half that. A few years ago, when the military had so many people over in Iraq, they were much harder to find, and more expensive.

Renting is a good deal if you like.

fwiw, I've never, ever, had a sat phone not be able to reach someone in more than a couple of attempts. Sometimes a call gets dropped, as a satellite moves out of line of sight, but it's never been more than a minute or 2 before I can call through again.

I get a plan called the northern lights plan, or something similar .. it's around $200/6months, with 180 minutes included.


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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 17 2013, 8:42 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(Walkinman @ Feb. 17 2013, 8:27 pm)
QUOTE
I get a plan called the northern lights plan, or something similar .. it's around $200/6months, with 180 minutes included.

Thanks.  It sounds like a plan.  
It will make our trips less stressful..........for all of us.


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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 17 2013, 8:48 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I used them a lot 8-10 years ago.  I thought they were very useful.

As Walkinman said sometimes it took a couple of minutes to "find" a satellite and calls would drop occasionally but I thought it was a very useful tool.
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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 17 2013, 8:58 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

How about calls to the phone? The OP wants to receive calls from home.
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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 17 2013, 9:13 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

My husband has to have one for work whenever we travel.  We've received and made calls from many remote backcountry locations all over the western continental states, plus hawaii, alaska, maine, new brunswick, and nova scotia. It's worked well for us everywhere we've been.
Fortunately, we don't have to pay for the thing, so I can't comment about cost issues.


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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 17 2013, 9:20 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(ponderosa @ Feb. 17 2013, 9:13 pm)
QUOTE
My husband has to have one for work whenever we travel.  We've received and made calls from many remote backcountry locations all over the western continental states, plus hawaii, alaska, maine, new brunswick, and nova scotia. It's worked well for us everywhere we've been.
Fortunately, we don't have to pay for the thing, so I can't comment about cost issues.

Thanks, that's encouraging.


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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 17 2013, 9:21 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

HSF

I don't receive calls on mine .. I just carry it for emergency call outs. But they work fine. I was on a personal trip 2 years ago with some friends who had one as well, and they received calls and txts just fine. But there's no point in worrying about receiving calls any old where as few people will walk around in the backcountry with their sat phone turned on all day anyway.

A solar panel works fine for keeping them charged, however.


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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 17 2013, 10:03 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Fwiw I've used Iridiums while in Greenland.  Each field team gets issued at least two for a field campaign, or four if the group will be splitting up at all.  We mostly just use them for getting weather forecasts, sending status updates and communicating between teams, but also use them for the occasional personal call home.  They've been quite reliable and don't really ever drop calls on us, but that's largely because our high latitudes (Arctic Circle and northward) cause us to always be in range of at least a couple of the nearly-polar-orbiting satellites.

Like poderosa, it's through work and I don't ever see the final bill, so can't comment on that.  I've never yet carried one on a backpacking trip, but in your case it makes sense you'd want to.  Best of luck!

- Mike


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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 17 2013, 10:09 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

"But there's no point in worrying about receiving calls any old where as few people will walk around in the backcountry with their sat phone turned on all day anyway."

That's the OP's intended use.

"We have someone to stay with my mom and our critters.  I need to be able to be reached in case of an emergency"
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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 17 2013, 10:22 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(High_Sierra_Fan @ Feb. 17 2013, 10:09 pm)
QUOTE
"But there's no point in worrying about receiving calls any old where as few people will walk around in the backcountry with their sat phone turned on all day anyway."

That's the OP's intended use.

"We have someone to stay with my mom and our critters.  I need to be able to be reached in case of an emergency"

Our plan is to turn it on at certain intervals for 5 to 10 minutes.


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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 18 2013, 12:49 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

toes

text messages work best for that kind of thing, imo. You turn it on, check your messages, and call out if you need to. Either way, you should be able to find a reasonable setup. Try renting one a couple of times first, if you like.

Cheers

Carl


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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 18 2013, 12:58 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(Walkinman @ Feb. 18 2013, 12:49 am)
QUOTE
toes

text messages work best for that kind of thing, imo. You turn it on, check your messages, and call out if you need to. Either way, you should be able to find a reasonable setup. Try renting one a couple of times first, if you like.

Cheers

Carl

Thanks.  I wasn't aware that you could text message with satellite phones.  I haven't used one in a gazillion years.
It does sound like it will be a good solution for us.  We really treasure our time in the backcountry and want to continue to enjoy those adventures without them becoming 'guilt trips.'


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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 18 2013, 12:00 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Terrific idea: then that the message lies in wait in a queue eliminating the coordination aspect is a great idea.

That's a good approach even for cell phones when some one is going to be in and out of service.
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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 18 2013, 3:17 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

$250
http://www.satphonestore.com/globalstar-gsp1600.html
Looks like a pretty good deal.


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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 18 2013, 4:46 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(Walkinman @ Feb. 17 2013, 5:27 pm)
QUOTE
You can get a perfectly fine Iridium phone MUCH less than $2250.00. You can get 'em for less than $1150 if you want. There are usually quite a few on ebay for less than half that. A few years ago, when the military had so many people over in Iraq, they were much harder to find, and more expensive.

Renting is a good deal if you like.

fwiw, I've never, ever, had a sat phone not be able to reach someone in more than a couple of attempts. Sometimes a call gets dropped, as a satellite moves out of line of sight, but it's never been more than a minute or 2 before I can call through again.

I get a plan called the northern lights plan, or something similar .. it's around $200/6months, with 180 minutes included.

Looks like that plan is good only in Alaska and Canada?

http://www.sattransusa.com/irid-sim-nl200.html

EDIT:
Though there are other prepaid plans for a year which aren't too bad:

http://www.sattransusa.com/irprpl.html
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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 19 2013, 11:35 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

To the OP - I would not have recommended this until now, but you may want to consider renting a Globalstar first and see if that option works for you.  If it does, then you could pick up a Qualcomm 1600 for $200 or so.  Globalstar is making a comeback.  I own one and have a demo line, and use it when I go out each summer. For the last few years, it was 50/50 whether or not I'd get a signal, so I set it so I would receive an audible alert when I did have signal strength.  the Globalstar website shows call times when satellites are in position for a signal. Apparently, Globalstar just launched a new batch of satellites, and are offering some really good rates right now, in order to persuade customers to come back. I read where the reception will be back to full coverage sometime this summer.

Anyway, check them out.  They may or may not meet your needs.
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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 19 2013, 11:48 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(vigilguy @ Feb. 19 2013, 9:35 am)
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To the OP - I would not have recommended this until now, but you may want to consider renting a Globalstar first and see if that option works for you.  If it does, then you could pick up a Qualcomm 1600 for $200 or so.  Globalstar is making a comeback.  I own one and have a demo line, and use it when I go out each summer. For the last few years, it was 50/50 whether or not I'd get a signal, so I set it so I would receive an audible alert when I did have signal strength.  the Globalstar website shows call times when satellites are in position for a signal. Apparently, Globalstar just launched a new batch of satellites, and are offering some really good rates right now, in order to persuade customers to come back. I read where the reception will be back to full coverage sometime this summer.

Anyway, check them out.  They may or may not meet your needs.

That is a good point.  If text messages are all they'd need anyway (and a chance to call out when reception is good), that might work for a fraction of the price.

I've never used Globalstar, don't have any opinion one way or another about them (other than they've generally been avoided due to the reception issues you outlined), but if their satellite constellation is being upgraded that might be a good option.  Maybe.


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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 19 2013, 12:10 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

That's why I alluded to checking coverage: good information if Globalstar is making some improvements and every effort of theirs to recover marketshare would save some money for an otherwise potentially pricey service.
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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 19 2013, 12:46 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Thanks for the continuing input.  I'm looking at all of them and noted all the new satellite launches by Globalstar.  Their only negative reviews were when coverage started to decline.
It's mind-boggling.  I would likely only be using it in North America so it narrows the field some, I guess.


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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 19 2013, 2:47 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(vigilguy @ Feb. 19 2013, 11:35 am)
QUOTE
To the OP - I would not have recommended this until now, but you may want to consider renting a Globalstar first and see if that option works for you.  If it does, then you could pick up a Qualcomm 1600 for $200 or so.  Globalstar is making a comeback.  I own one and have a demo line, and use it when I go out each summer. For the last few years, it was 50/50 whether or not I'd get a signal, so I set it so I would receive an audible alert when I did have signal strength.  the Globalstar website shows call times when satellites are in position for a signal. Apparently, Globalstar just launched a new batch of satellites, and are offering some really good rates right now, in order to persuade customers to come back. I read where the reception will be back to full coverage sometime this summer.

Anyway, check them out.  They may or may not meet your needs.

Globalstar GSP 1600 Satellite Phone - USEDName

$249.00

Unlimited Airtime Only $39.99 a month - Guaranteed for 12 months!


That's better than most cell phone plans here!
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(SmokeyBear @ Feb. 19 2013, 12:47 pm)
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Unlimited Airtime Only $39.99 a month - Guaranteed for 12 months!

That's better than most cell phone plans here!

:laugh: That's cheaper than my cell phone plan, actually, and I don't have unlimited voice!  (I do have some data, so there's that, but still, lol.)

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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 19 2013, 11:52 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

It is looking like I should wait until June or so and see how Globalstar's new satellities affect their service.  
I will probably rent one of theirs and an Iridium and see which performs best in my circumstances.
A pricey way to do it, maybe, but trying them out at the same time and same place under the same circumstances will be a good test.
If I wind up wanting one sooner, rather than later, I will either rent or just buy an Iridium 9555.  Best reviews I've seen so far.


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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 23 2013, 12:00 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

If you would like a good reference to a really good satellite phone company that is very knowledgable and very experienced with Iridium and with Globalstar, call Russ Smith with SkyCall Communications in Salt Lake City.  Super friendly guy, easy going and regularly rents and sells to groups worldwide.

Number is 801-450-8317.  Sky Call Satellite
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(vigilguy @ Feb. 23 2013, 12:00 pm)
QUOTE
If you would like a good reference to a really good satellite phone company that is very knowledgable and very experienced with Iridium and with Globalstar, call Russ Smith with SkyCall Communications in Salt Lake City.  Super friendly guy, easy going and regularly rents and sells to groups worldwide.

Number is 801-450-8317.  Sky Call Satellite

Thank you!  I will do that.


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