In the last few years, Satellite Wi-Fi hotspots have demonstrated themselves to be the long awaited solution for iPhone, iPad, and Android users trying to connect to the internet over satellite from remote locations beyond the reach of conventional cellular or internet providers. All the satellite Wi-Fi hotspots compared here enable smartphone and tablet devices to access the internet through a satellite network. Some but not all of the satellite Wi-Fi hotspots support phone calls and texting through your smart device.
Here are the most important distinctions.

Stand-Alone Satellite Wi-Fi Hotspots

The Iridium GO! Wi-Fi Hotspot is a stand-alone device which requires its own SIM. Currently iOS and Android are supported though plans for Windows and Mac laptop support are underway. Plans with unlimited texting and unlimited data are available. Iridium GO! supports voice calling and emergency SOS messaging directly from your smartphone or tablet. While Iridium provides global coverage, it has a relatively slow data speed of only 2.4 kbps data rate. This data rate is useful for light email applications. Special apps for the iPhone, iPad, and Android are available for free. If you need to take your GO! to locations without reliable power, Outfitter Satellite offers special solar charging equipment for the GO!. For more information, see our review article.
The Globalstar Sat-Fi is a stand-alone device that supports voice, two-way SMS messaging, and 9.6 kbps internet access. Just connect your smartphone or tablet via Wi-Fi. Globalstar coverage is regional but there is significant coverage in the lower 48 US states. Globalstar has very economical calling plans for customers making voice calls and is a great choice for a remote cabin or lodge especially in much of North America. For more information, see our review article.

Satellite Wi-Fi Hotspots For Your Satellite Phone

The Optimizer Wi-Fi Hotspot is an agnostic Wi-Fi hotspot that can be used with the Iridium 9555 and 9575, Globalstar, Thuraya, Inmarsat GSPS, Inmarsat BGAN, or Inmarsat FBB satellite phones and terminals. The Optimizer supports iOS, Mac, and most current Windows platforms. That is a great benefit if you use multiple satellite phones or terminals. If you are a hiker or camper, you also will be pleased to learn that there are solar panel and battery pack solutions that can be used to power the Optimizer and recharge your smartphones and tablet devices.
The Iridium AxcessPoint was one of the first satellite Wi-Fi hotspots. Itcan be used with either an Iridium 9555 or Iridium 9575 EXTREME satellite phone. Iridium provides global coverage, but it has a relatively slow data speed of 2.4 kbps data rate so the AxcessPoint is useful primarily for light email applications. It is inadequate for most web browsing applications. Special email and web browsing apps for the iPhone, iPad, Android and Blackberry devices are available for free. Windows and Mac laptops are also supported. Every AxcessPoint user can register for their own free @myiridium.net email address. The AxcessPoint does have a built in battery and comes with a AC wall charger. One downside is that we do not have a DC car charger or solar charger solution for the AxcessPoint. For more information, see our review article.
The Thuraya XT-Hotspot is used in concert with the Thuraya XT. It uses Thuraya GmPRS data service which provides data rates up to 60 kbps (down) / 15 kbps (up). Though Thuraya is not global, it does cover large parts of Africa, the Middle East, Europe, India, Australia and other areas. The Thuraya XT-Hotspot includes a built-in battery but can be recharged using our 10W Compact Solar Charger. This makes it a very convenient solution for mobile Thuraya users.

A Few Pitfalls to Avoid...

One prevalent misconception is that Wi-Fi access automatically indicates a broadband "fast" internet connection. Wi-Fi simply means that you have a wireless connection. The connection is still limited by the performance of the satellite network that you choose. Iridium and Inmarsat GSPS offer 2.4 kbps data speeds. Globalstar offers 9.6 kbps. Thuraya IP, Inmarsat BGAN, and marine Inmarsat FBB broadband terminals offer much higher speeds. BGAN, for example reaches up to 492 kbps. Though the lower speed products are suitable for light email activity, texting, and occasional browsing of special mobile-optimized websites, some customers will need the higher performance data speeds offered by the satellite broadband terminals.

Another common misconception is that satellite means global connectivity. Some satellite networks are global but other provide only regional coverage. The Inmarsat and Iridium satellite networks have the largest coverage areas. Globalstar and Thuraya offer more limited regional coverage areas but in some cases they also offer lower cost usage plans.

Each customer must carefully choose the correct satellite Wi-Fi hotspot for their own application based on their own data speed, service cost, and coverage area requirements.


* The data rates of the various satellite networks are best case. Actual performance varies and can be slower.

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5 Comments

Matt levi

Date 6/27/2015

I will be traveling from Florida to Rome on ship COSTA LUMINOSA running on network 900/1800, 3G 2100 Vodafone. Can you provide a simcard/plan that will allow me to access to the ships data and or cellular network? I would like to avoid the high cost ship wifi/cellular plan by going straight through Vodafone. If there is any applications or workarounds that can allow me to make wifi calling on ship, or a sim card, of any suggestions.. I use tmobile prepaid that can access wifi calling running on iPhone 5 and android.

outfittertech

Date 1/28/2015

Regardless of what cellular provider your iOS or Android smart phone is on, e.g. Vodafone or TMobile, you can use it through an Iridium GO! Wi-Fi Hotspot to make/receive calls and texts. Click here for Iridium GO! rates. Right now the per minute cost for basic rate calling is $1.19 per minute. SMS messaging (Texting) is really cheap. A lot of our customers are getting the Standard+150 plan which includes 150 minutes of voice calling and unlimited SMS messaging for $99 a month (plus USF fees and other fees and taxes).

orlando jenkins

Date 9/8/2015

Hello I own internet radio station and I'm in search for a wifi hotspot that would allow my company to broadcast live for 4/5 hours in a area that doesnt have a wifi system of its own. Is there any way you can help this problem.. Im hoping to find a unlimited version of wifi through one of your devices

outfittertech

Date 9/10/2015

Hi Orlando, Most radio stations use a physical ISDN connection to get good sound quality. We have a satellite terminal capable of doing that. The physical equipment cost is $2895 (new) or $1295 (used with 6-mo warranty). Airtime cost is around $4.16 per minute (prepaid) or $5.95 per minute (postpaid). Activation fees, USF fees and other fees apply, too, so call us for details. One 5 hour session = 300 minutes x $4.16/min = $1248 in airtime costs. The same terminal that does the ISDN physical connection also has a built-in router and Wi-Fi capability with Standard IP data speeds up to 492 kbps, but again, radio broadcasters usually use ISDN in my experience. If you have an expectation that you would need to do this again and again, and you are broadcasting from the US, there are lower cost ways to do it. If you have further questions, call us at 615-889-8833 or email us at [email protected] Jim

Buddy

Date 10/20/2018

74 yr old singal male driving fr LA, Ca to tip of s. America. Any experieced advise for communications back to Tn. USA greatly appreciated

Jim

Date 10/24/2018 2:43:00 PM

Hi Buddy, We would recommend an Iridium since you are traveling over a large distance and potentially in mountains. The easiest solution to use is simply an Iridium handset https://www.outfittersatellite.com/Iridium-Phones.html If you are comfortable using smartphones, you may consider the Iridium GO! https://www.outfittersatellite.com/iridium-go.html. The GO! has an unlimited texting plan which can be a great money saver if you make texting inKyour main method of communication.

Kendra Barker

Date 11/6/2019

Hello, I am looking for a satellite hot spot to have in my home in case of emergencies as we get no cell reception. Ideally I am looking for a pay as you go situation as apposed to monthly bills. What would you recommend? Obviously would love it to be fast and connect to multiple devices. Thanks!

Outfitter Admin

Date 11/6/2019

Hi, Kendra. There are options for you for data and for voice. In order to get a better idea of your specific need, give us a call M-F, 8:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. and a member of our sales team would be happy to go over a solution for you. We have also emailed you directly.

Eric BENTLE

Date 3/9/2020

Hello, I'm trying to plan a hunting trip in a remote location of Montana with no cell service. I need to be able to message and email as well as send(email) purchase orders and invoices daily. Is there a reasonable application that would accomplish this or do I tell my buddies I have to bow out?

Outfitter Admin

Date 3/10/2020

Hi, Eric. In order to do what you need to do, you will need a BGAN. We rent the Explorer 510; it's small and lightweight, and would likely work well for you, as long as you have clear view of the southern sky. I will pass your email to my sales team and they will reach out to you with some package options.

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