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Satellite Phone Service Plans Buyer’s Guide For 2021

 

Satellite phones have become increasingly popular. They enable the everyday person to stay connected when traveling to remote locations where cell towers and data services are not available. Similar to a cell phone, users will first purchase their phone of choice and will then need to pay for the satellite phone service that best fits their needs in order to be able to use it. But it can be tricky determining how much each plan costs as well as predicting how many minutes you’ll need.

 

In this satellite phone service plan buyer’s guide, we’ll discuss the necessity of a satellite phone and then break down the costs of owning and using a satellite phone with a side-by-side comparison from the top service providers. We’ll also provide you with the information you need to determine what kind of plan would work best for you.

Why You Need a Satellite Phone

Satellite phones provide a communication lifeline no matter where you go in the world. You may think you already have this covered with your cell phone, but that’s not actually true. 

    1. Satellite phones give peace of mind if an emergency were ever to arise. When a natural disaster occurs, terrestrial cell towers and electrical lines are often the first to go down and all communication is lost. Satellite phones can literally be a lifesaver in these situations.
    2. Business as Usual, Wherever You Go. Industries typically known for operating off the grid such as oil and gas, shipping, construction, and aviation have historically been up against challenges where keeping everyday communication was concerned. Now, conducting worldwide businesses and staying connected to the mainland doesn’t have to skip a beat.
    3. Travel the world and stay connected. Cell phones don’t work with off the grid travel. Traveling this way can be freeing, but safety is compromised when a cell connection is lost with no line of communication available to the outside world. Additionally, it’s always nice to have the option to call back home when you need to hear a familiar voice!

The Way Satellite Phones Work

 

Unlike cell phones, satellite phones require a line-of-site to the sky to obtain a signal for the phone to operate. This allows the orbiting satellite and phone to connect.

These phones will not work indoors such as a retirement home or a stateroom on a cruise. However, they will work anywhere outside. And if you have a docking station and extended antenna they can be used indoors. Buildings, mountains, and forested areas can affect the signal of a satellite phone negatively, so it’s always best to find an area where the sky is fully visible.

Satellite Phone Affordability

Satellite phones are amazing and all, but are they actually affordable for the general population?

Satellite phones became a truly valuable asset when the Iridium network was launched. But when Iridium satellite phones were first available, they were offered at an unaffordable satellite phone price to the everyday consumer. 

Recently, satellite phones have become more affordable, making them an asset that more and more people and companies can have as part of emergency kits and as a backup phone when requiring one out of cellular network range. With the price of satellite phones drastically reduced from the early days of production, the communication solution for a century-long issue has finally arrived.

What to Consider
When Choosing a Satellite Phone?

When choosing a satellite phone, you want to look at the features of the phone itself, but it’s also important to know what kind of coverage you’ll get with a particular service provider and also know if it’s the most cost-effective choice for you. While satellite phone service providers offer a range of plans, some have more options than others. 

 

Before choosing a phone and plan it’s always a good idea to consider:

 

    1. Your phone choice: Think about the kind of options you need in a phone. You’ll want to take into consideration size, ruggedness, battery life, etc.
    2. How wide the service provider’s coverage extends: Some providers, such as Iridium, can be used worldwide, whereas Globalstar will work in all the lower 48 states and more, but with some areas of the world out of reach.
    3. The quality of the phone service: This is definitely something important to keep in mind. A phone is only as good as the network it runs on. You need reliable service with clear voice quality so you never have to worry about not being able to reach someone no matter where you go or what kind of weather you may encounter. Iridium, for example, utilizes a constellation of 66 interconnected low-earth-orbit satellites to ensure your phone will work no matter what.
    4. The plans that are offered: Before making a phone purchase, make sure there are plans available for that phone that are within your budget and make sense for how often you’ll be using your satellite phone. 

 

The big players in the satellite phone space are Iridium, Inmarsat, Globalstar and Thuraya. Below we will extensively cover what phone plans are available, but we also suggest you check out each of their coverage maps as well as the satellite phones you can use with each service.

Coverage Maps

Clear coverage areas can be found as well as side-by-side comparisons of the type of coverage each service offers.

  1. Iridium 
  2. Inmarsat
  3. Globalstar
  4. Thuraya

Browse Phones: 

Get information about all of our satellite phones here, and for side-by-side comparisons and top recommendations, be sure to check out the Satellite Phone Buyer’s Guide for the Best Satellite Phones.

Comparing Satellite Phone Plans

The following chart gives a side-by-side comparison of the leading satellite phone service providers. No matter which service you choose there will be a $50 activation fee and a 12-month contract is required for monthly plans. Prepaid plans can be a great way to go if you want to avoid a contract and won’t need your satellite phone for an extended period of time.

Satmodo Satellite Phone Service PlansIridium PlansInmarsat PlansGlobalstar PlansThuraya Plans
Lowest Cost Monthly Plan$59.99/month for 20 minutesl$45.99/month for 10 minutes$527/12 months/384 minutesNA
Lowest Cost Prepaid Plan$59.99/month for 20 minutes$59.99/month for 20 minutes$45.99/ Extra MinsNA
Largest Monthly Plan Available$530/month for 500 minutes$636/month for 720 minutes$79.99/month unlimited plansNA
Largest Prepaid Plan Available$4,696/24 months/ 5,000 minutes$527/12months/384 minutesNA $2,599/12months/2,500 units
Most Popular PlansMonthly:$99.99 for 60 minutes Prepaid : $826/12 months/600 minutesMonthly:$75.99 for 60 minutes prepaid: $273/180 days/192 minutesNA $2,599/12months/2,500 units
BonusesFree voicemail, low airtime rates, regional plans availableFree voicemail, budget friendly, custom plans availableFree voicemail, low airtime rates, cost-effective yearly plans availableLow airtime rates, no commitment, add minutes anytime
Important to knowFree voicemail, low airtime rates, regional plans availableFree voicemail, budget friendly, custom plans availableFree voicemail, low airtime rates, cost-effective yearly plans availableLow airtime rates, no commitment, add minutes anytime
Coverage100% worldwide90% Global excluding the poles80% global excluding areas such as Africa and China; great US coverage90% Global if including roaming (extra charge)

Satmodo Satellite Phone Service Plans

Iridium Plans

Inmarsat Plans

Globalstar Plans

Thuraya Plans

Lowest Cost Monthly Plan
$59.99/month for 20 minutes
$45.99/month for 10 minutes
$49.99/month for 50 minutes
N/A
Lowest Cost Prepaid Plan
$155/30 days/75 minutes
$59/30 days/38 minutes
N/A
$39/12 months/20 units
Largest Monthly Plan Available
$530/month for 500 minutes
$636/month for 720 minutes
$79.99/month unlimited minutes
N/A
Largest Prepaid Plan Available
$527/12 months/384 minutes
Most Popular Plans
Monthly: $99.99 for 60 minutes Prepaid: $825/12 months/600 minutes
Monthly: $75.99 for 60 minutes Prepaid: $273/180 days/192 minutes
Prepaid: All plans with unlimited minutes
Monthly: $559/12 months/500 units
Bonuses
Free Voicemail, low airtime rates, regional plans available
Free voicemail, budget-friendly, custom plans available
Free voicemail, low airtime rates, cost-effective yearly plans available
Low airtime rates, no commitment, add minutes anytime
Important to Know
Iridium PTT will need to purchase an additional Talkgroup plan
N/A
Plans are different depending on phone choice
Plans are offered in units, not minutes. Please see plan page for unit/min. depending on band country
Coverage
100% Worldwide
90% Global excluding the poles
80% Global excluding areas such as Africa and China; great U.S. coverage
90% Global if including roaming (extra charge)

Never Pay for What You Don’t Need

With so many different providers and plans available, you can get exactly what you need out of your satellite phone. We recommend narrowing down what kind of coverage you need and then go from there to determine what will be the most cost-effective choice for you. For example, if you will be traveling extensively around the world and can’t risk ending up in an area where your phone won’t work, then Iridium is likely the best choice for you.

If you know you will only need your phone within the lower 48 states of the U.S., Globalstar will probably be the most cost-effective choice for you.  Lastly, if your only need is to use your satellite phone if an emergency arises, a prepaid plan makes sense for you.

If you’re still unsure and need to talk to someone about the phone and service that would be best for you, we encourage you to reach out to Satmodo’s 24/7 customer support at 1-800-279-2366.

Satellite Phone FAQ

Each satellite phone service provider has their advantages. There is no “one size fits all” satellite phone service that is the best for everyone. Iridium, Inmarsat, Globalstar and Thuraya can all be excellent choices depending on what you need. The most important thing is to take time to consider what is offered and compare that to what you need in order to find the best match for you.

Just like with a cell phone, in order to make phone calls you’ll need to have a service plan activated. Satellite phone users typically pay a monthly charge for a set number of minutes. Prepaid plans are also available where the user is given a certain threshold of minutes to use in a specific time period such as 30 days, 6 months or 1 year.

Once you have paid to rent or purchased a satellite phone, you will need to purchase a plan in order to begin making and receiving phone calls and text messages. Satmodo offers a wide range of plans to fit your budget and needs, whether you’re just planning to use your satellite phone for emergencies or know you will need to use it extensively for business or while traveling.

 

Beyond the cost of the phone, users will need to pay for service just as they would a typical cell phone. Depending on the provider, users may have the option of purchasing prepaid minutes or being charged a monthly or annual fee. There is a wide range of plans available, ranging between $40-60/month for a lower number of minutes and up to $500 or more/month for those needing to use their satellite phone extensively. Users also have the option to make a one-time payment for prepaid minutes, which can be a great option for those who just may need to use their satellite phone in the event of an emergency. 

Satmodo LLC is offering this information to be helpful and informative. This is not being offered as legal advice in any way. We highly encourage you to do your own research and contact the embassy or consulate for the country that you will be traveling too.

Terms

*One time $50 activation fee for all pre-paid and monthly plans

*All monthly plans are a 12 month contract

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