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post #1 of Old 02-20-2007 Thread Starter
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Satellite phone choices - looking for recommendations

I intend to purchase a satellite phone for occasional voice use and also to connect to my pc for connecting to my mail. I'll be in the Caribbean initially, then off on a typical circumnavigation route. There seem to be a limited amount of systems out there, and I'm having trouble deciding. For a similar "package" of a phone with connectivity for e-mail and a pre-paid 1000 minutes of use I see the following options
  • Iridium $2790
    A 9505A handset with kit $1400, Serial Adaptor $100, 2400Baud transfer rates, 1000 basic minutes valid 2 years for $1290. Coverage 100% of where I want to go. No roaming.
  • Globalstar $1529
    Globalstar GSP-1700 handset with kit $999 includes serial port adapter, USB kit $39.95. 1800 Minutes per year for $530 {special if done before March 1st}. 80% coverage (Indonesia/Thailand/India/Red Sea not covered), roaming outside of the Americas.
  • Thuraya
    I didn't research too far, due to limited coverage (just Europe & Africa).
  • InMarSat BGAN $2365
    Unit with voice unit $1895. Data transfer rates of 384kbps down and 240kbps up. Coverage worldwide. 1year $480 includes 20Mb/Month. VOIP; $6.40/Mb.
  • R-BGAN
    Europe Only

It seems that Globalstar is the least expensive alternative, but recently there have been significant worries about their service. According to their filing with the SEC
Quote: some time in 2008 substantially all of the Company’s currently in-orbit satellites will cease to be able to support two-way communications services...
and I think that data transmissions are duplex and not simplex for this type of comms.

Are there other options out there that I've missed? Any big "gotchas"? I realize that some of these prices can be beat, but I'm using officially published prices for all of them. I did find Globalstar and Iridium units on eBay at great discounts.

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Last edited by Zanshin; 02-20-2007 at 10:46 AM.
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