Most people rent Iridium satellite phones for a one-time need such as a hunting or vacation trip.  A satellite phone is especially relevant if you are traveling to a remote location like Alaska where cellular communication is unavailable.  Sometimes, it can be critical to make a phone call because of a health emergency.  Usually an Iridium 9555 handset is the best choice.  First, it is exceptionally easy to use.   Also, rentals as short as 7 days are available with no airtime commitment.  Some people need a more sophisticated product that can support email or web browsing.  In this case, we recommend the EXPLORER 510 BGAN terminal.

Should you rent Iridium or Inmarsat BGAN equipment?

You should consider a variety of issues when selecting a satellite phone for internet applications.  First, can your application be satisfied with relatively slow 2.4 kbps internet access?   As a rule, light email applications with attachments under 100KB in size are suitable for Iridium.

If you intend to make heavy use of the internet, such as web browsing or video applications, then choose a broadband system.  Iridium Pilot is capable of 128 kbps.   The Iridium Pilot is a marine terminal with a large external antenna.  If you have a land portable application, we suggest that you rent an Inmarsat BGAN.  Renting an EXPLORER 500 Inmarsat BGAN terminal gives you data speeds up to 464 kbps which is almost 200 times faster than an Iridium handheld or an Iridium GO! hotspot.

Realtime videoconferencing or broadcasting

Some BGAN terminals like the Cobham EXPLORER 710 are designed for broadcast video applications.  For this reason, Outfitter Satellite rents and sells the EXPLORER 710 but the minimum rental for this product is 60 days.  Our EXPLORER 710 rental supports Inmarsat High Definition Rate Streaming also known as HDR which typically achieves about 750 kbps.   Also, if needed, two EXPLORER 710 terminals can be bonded together to achieve speeds as high as 1.1 Mbps.    Bonding is done through the video codec device not the EXPLORER 710.

Making phone calls and texting

If you primarily need to make phone calls or send texts, we recommend renting an Iridium or perhaps  an Inmarsat IsatPhone 2.  We offer two Iridium products for short duration rentals, the Iridium 9555 satellite phone and the Iridium GO! WiFi hotspot.  We rent a variety of accessories including extra batteries, watertight Pelican transport cases, and solar panels that strap to your back pack or tent.

All of these products are light weight.  They also offer 2.4 kbps data which is suitable for light email applications.   The handheld satellite phones support internet access through smartphones, tablets, Macintosh and Windows laptops using an optional portable WiFi adapter called the Optimizer.  The Iridium GO! supports smartphones and tablets at the current time.