Different satellite phones have different benefits and drawbacks. This overview helps sort through the most important issues, including:
* IRIDIUM NOTES: Iridium coverage is global but some countries, notably North Korea, do not allow Iridium usage. Customers interested in internet access can choose the Iridium GO! or the Iridium 9555 with the optional Optimizer or AxcessPoint hotspot accessory. Though email (with attachments less than 100 KB is size is a good application of Iridium internet, Outfitter Satellite recommends against using Iridium for web browsing because of the relatively slow data speed (2400-2800 bps). It is possible to see some but not all mobile-optimized websites using Iridium. Iridium data/internet applications require that you are getting at least 4-5 bars of signal on the Iridium device. Iridium cannot be used for broadband applications like Skype.
** INMARSAT NOTES: As a rule of thumb, on most land masses Inmarsat provides good coverage between 50 degrees North and 50 degrees South latitude. Actually, there is coverage in other areas (see the Inmarsat coverage map). The coverage map shows that there are 3 large oblate circles (colored regions) that represent the coverage of the three Inmarsat communication satellites. As you move toward the edge of any of these large oblate circles, the Inmarsat satellite moves towards the horizon. As a rule of thumb, if the satellite is lower than about 20 degrees elevation above the horizon, the user will begin to have trouble with nearby vertical obstructions (like trees, mountains, buildings,...) blocking his/her signal from the satellite. For example, you may have problems seeing the satellite (and thus using the phone or terminal) in heavily mountainous regions if the satellite is blocked by the terrain. If you are expecting to travel in mountainous terrain, an Iridium phone may be a better choice than an IsatPhone 2.