Whether you’re planning to spend time backpacking and trekking through northern Montana mountains or you’re planning a trip to venture into the far reaches of distant, foreign lands, figuring out how you can establish reliable communications in the case of emergencies, changing plans, or relaying information to your team should be one of your top priorities.
Cell phone networks are stronger and faster than ever before, and for many travelers, they’ll serve for most urban and rural locations. But when you really start to get into rough terrain and you travel further from help, something more substantial is typically needed.
In today’s blog from Outfitter Satellite Phones — your online supplier of Iridium satellite phones — we will take a look at some of the basic knowledge you should have before starting to consider if a satellite phone is right for you.
To find the latest satphone model from the best brands, shop online at Outfitter SAtellite phones today.
Satellite phones provide two-way communication between the satphone holder and another party. Types of communication can be voice, press-to-talk, or SMS or text messaging. Satellite phones can both make outgoing communications, and receive incoming communications from anyone who has the international area code and number of the satphone they are trying to call.
Many satellite phones are designed to be able to provide users with text-based messenger options. Messaging services can range from basic communication to more advanced functions and services like bread-crumbing, social media access, and mapping software to help you communicate your whereabouts and transmit other specific location information.
High-Earth Orbit Networks Versus Low-Earth Orbit Networks
The vast majority of satphones you can purchase commercially run on one of two different types of satellite networks. The first is called a High-Earth Orbit network, and the second is called a Low-Earth Orbit.
High-earth orbit satellite networks usually consist of a set of three satellites that are moving in time with the natural rotation of the earth. This allows them to stay in position and provide highly consistent coverage to areas that are relatively flat and open. However, when in rugged, rough, and mountainous terrain, it can be difficult, and in some cases impossible, to get a signal.
Additionally, high-earth orbit satellite communication often has a great lag time and lower quality than low-earth orbit networks provide because of the additional distance being traveled by the signal.
Low-earth orbit satellite networks consist of groups — or “constellations” — of satellites that rapidly move around the earth — much faster than the actual rotational speed of the planet. These series of low-earth orbit satellite constellations work together to rapidly move clear signals between communication points.
Although a low-earth orbit satellite network does not guarantee a signal in mountainous or rough terrain, the moving nature of the satellite in relation to the earth means that within a short time (usually a couple of hours at most), you should be able to establish a signal as a new constellation moves into line with you.
For this reason, top satellite brands like Iridium tend to almost exclusively use a low-earth orbit satellite network for their communications products.
Why Get A Satellite Phone?
A satellite phone from Outfitter Satellite Phones is a useful piece of hardware in many situations, and can even be lifesaving. However, that doesn’t mean that you necessarily need one for where you are going.
For many travelers, a cell phone will work just fine. Vacations, hiking in popular national parks and camping within short distances of urban or rural environments OFTEN don’t require the need for a satellite phone.
However, if you are going into more remote areas, places where you don’t expect to have much access to goods and services, or plan on hiking and camping in particularly rough terrain, then a satellite phone could very well be a good choice.
Are Satellite Phones Expensive?
Satellite phones are not cheap, but that is primarily due to the nature of the technology that must be deployed on earth and in space to create reliable, effective networks. That being said, a satellite phone is a tremendously smart and reasonable investment for anyone who spends a good amount of time “off-the-grid.” If your job or hobbies take you to remote locations regularly, then your satellite phone will pay for itself in no time.
For people who need the peace of mind and safety a satellite phone provides less frequently, satellite phone rental can be an excellent option. At Outfitter Satellite Phones, we rent high-quality satellite phones from top brands like Iridium, and we can help you find the right plan and functions for your needs.