Satellite phones are necessary gear if you work or play in the world’s remotest places. Not all satellite phones perform well in mountainous terrain or offer global coverage. Some are more economical for users expecting to make large numbers of long duration calls. Others are acceptable for light email use but really not suitable for broadband internet applications such as uploading video. This Buyer’s Guide will help you sort through these issues.
Start with 3 simple questions:
Should I buy or rent? If you have a one-time need for the satellite phone or need it just a few weeks each year, then renting the phone is probably the most economical choice. We offer both short and long-term satellite phone rentals.
Where will I use the phone? Iridium offers global coverage and works well even in rugged mountainous areas. Inmarsat typically has lower cost equipment, but Inmarsat coverage is unavailable in the polar regions and its geostationary satellites are more susceptible to being blocked by the terrain in mountainous areas. Thuraya offers very small lightweight phones and low operating costs but only has regional coverage in parts of Europe, the Middle East, India, Asia, Australia and Africa.
Do I need broadband internet access? If light email is sufficient, the relatively slow 2.4 kbps data speed offered by Iridium or Inmarsat handsets could be sufficient. If web browsing or realtime video are required, then a portable broadband internet terminal using Inmarsat BGAN or Thuraya IP should be selected. If you have a marine vessel, Iridium OpenPort is a good choice.
**Product and service pricing is based on July 1, 2017 pricing. This comparison chart only gives approximate price ranges which are updated occasionally but may not be consistent with our current published pricing on some items and services. Please consult the product pages for exact pricing, terms and conditions.
Handheld Satphones vs Hotspots:
An increasing number of users are choosing to get portable satellite hotspots that they can use with their iOS or Android smartphone or tablet via an app. Professional hunter Spook Spann talks about how he used the Iridium GO! in the video below.
Iridium GO! Hotspot offers global coverage and enables your smartphone to make and receive calls, texts, and emails with attachments. Unfortunately, its slow 2.4 kbps data speed requires that the emails be sent through a special app and email account.
Thuraya SatSleeve+ offers internet access speeds up to 15 kbps on upload and 60 kbps on download, but Thuraya coverage is limited to parts of Europe, the Middle East, India, Asia, Australia and Africa.
Cobham EXPLORER 510 offers true broadband internet access speeds up to 464 kbps with nearly global coverage with the exception of the polar regions. The EXPLORER 510 is a little heavier than the 0.65lb Iridium GO! Hotspot but at 3.1lb it is still very portable and offers much faster internet as well as a phone call app for your iOS or Android smartphone. If you have a short term need, try BGAN rental.
I need a SIM card. Online SIM card activation with next day delivery is available for Iridium, Thuraya, Inmarsat IsatPhone and Inmarsat BGAN SIM cards on most postpaid and prepaid plans.
I need a SIM card to activate later. No problem. FREE US Postal delivery of unactivated SIM cards is available to addresses in the continental United States for most service plans. There is a small upfront charge for some types of SIM cards, e.g. Thuraya prepaid SIM cards. Limited quantities of most SIM card types will be sent at no charge until you activate later. Contact our customer service department online or call us at 615-889-8833 to make the arrangements.
I need spare parts. Outfitter Satellite keeps batteries for most satellite phone models in stock for next business day delivery within the continental US. For other accessories click one of the following Iridium, Thuraya, Thuraya IP, IsatPhone or Inmarsat BGANfor lists of accessories such as docking stations, external antennas, solar panels, and batteries.
I need technical support with using my satellite phone or terminal. We offer our airtime service subscribers 24/7 technical support. After regular business hours, voice mail messages left on our technical support line are typically answered within two hours. If you have a less urgent request, you can leave a message for our customer service department online.
I need to reload my prepaid account. If you have an existing prepaid account and need to purchase a reload voucher, click here. If you have an urgent prepaid account reload that cannot wait until normal business hours please click here for special instructions.