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The Case for PLBs

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Re: The Case for PLBs

Postby BSquared » Thu Jun 02, 2016 6:36 pm

Thanks much, LMBSGV. That's kind of what I figured. And I'll definitely take a look at the ISAT2.
—B²



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Re: The Case for PLBs

Postby gdurkee » Fri Jun 03, 2016 11:41 am

Bill: ahoy! I've not used the ISAT2, but it works on the Iridium satellite network, so is a good choice. For voice, my experience is a conversation doesn't last more than 2 to 8 minutes even if you have a good horizon but, if voice is important, I'd go with that. 2nd choice would be inreach because of 2 way texting. You can also rent the sat phones.

Hope all is well!

g.
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Re: The Case for PLBs

Postby LMBSGV » Fri Jun 03, 2016 4:50 pm

I received an email today from my phone provider, Roadpost. The ISAT phone card rates have changed. The 100 unit card I have been buying changed from a duration of 180 days to 90 days, in effect a doubling of rates. I will definitely have to rethink my options when my 180 days expire. Obviously, this complicates the issue of whether you want to consider a satellite phone. PM me if you have any questions.
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Re: The Case for PLBs

Postby maverick » Wed Jun 08, 2016 12:18 pm

The ISAT phone card rates have changed. The 100 unit card I have been buying changed from a duration of 180 days to 90 days, in effect a doubling of rates. I will definitely have to rethink my options when my 180 days expire.


Changed is a very nice word to use Lawrence. :(
Reactivated my Globalstar account last year, within months they were sending incorrect billing and trying to change rates, dropped them immediately. Was considering looking into ISAT, but after reading this, forget it.
HST= Wilderness Adventurer who knows no bounds, except for their own imagination.

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Re: The Case for PLBs

Postby fishmonger » Tue Jun 14, 2016 9:26 am

LMBSGV wrote:

Since my wife's anxiety is rather high when I'm out solo and we didn't want to trust a SPOT anymore, we shot part of our savings and got an ISAT2 satellite phone. After the initial expense, it's the same cost or less than a SPOT or InReach. It always works. It even worked once when I was inside the tent in a downpour.


I've used an IsatPhone Pro (not the 2) for several years now. There was one time when the satellite was overloaded with some stuff that was going on in south America and I was unable to get a signal for several hours, but that was one isolated afternoon. Other than that, when you have a clear view to the satellite at 45 degrees up somewhere southwest, it works just fine. For the first two years I had a $100 sim card that lasted that long, 100 units, or about 200 text messages (only use voice rarely, incoming texts are free). Now that that card has expired, I need to buy a new one.

And to George - the Globalstar network is the one with holes every few minutes. Inmarsat is just as reliable as Iridium, except it's a lot cheaper to use. Personally, I use it so little, I am now contemplating to switch to Iridium, because even though the units are more expensive, their stuff is just a lot more reliable even when you're somewhere in the chute on the Whitney mountaineer's route, where there's no way to get a signal with an Inmarsat phone unless you remove the mountain itself.

Over the last two years Inmarsat has been changing their prepaid card rules so much that there's now no real benefit for the random user like me who only needs the phone twice a year for a few weeks each time at the most. Up to July 1, 50 unit cards are good for 90 days, but then the same cards will only be valid for 30 days, and the 100 unit cards that lasted 180 days are down to 90 days. That means I need to buy a second SIM card this September when I am heading out again, even if I get a 100 unit card. Savings over Iridium from that day on are just a few dollars on the sim card itself. Previously they had the huge advantage of not expiring for 2 years, even if you bought just 100 units. This has been brought down to the iridium expiration levels now. Cost of the units themselves are close, so I'm now looking at saving a few ounces on the handset, get faster connections and better reception in steep terrain by switching to Iridium.

One thing is for sure, I won't go back to a SPOT. Phones are just so much more useful. Weather forecasts every day from the home base, contacting shuttle drivers or making motel reservations while you're still sitting at Forester pass in the snow storm, no problem. Call a doctor for advice, rather than a chopper for extraction when you're not sure you have a full 911 situation.
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Re: The Case for PLBs

Postby BSquared » Tue Jun 14, 2016 1:14 pm

Hmmm... Well, I've already got a SPOT (borrowed), so it's really a question of whether I should pay the $150 activation fee or go with something completely different. It's looking like an Irridium phone rental might be competitive for the upcoming 2-week Sierra trip (which might not even happen); anybody have a favorite sat-phone rental company? Longer-term I'll have to think about it, but I'm inclined to agree with George that an Inreach with two-way texting is probably the most economical choice if one doesn't need voice.
—B²
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Re: The Case for PLBs

Postby fishmonger » Wed Jun 15, 2016 11:26 am

I never rented, but for buying air time, the best deals I see right now are at BlueCosmo in Seattle. I am about to call them for a new prepaid SIM card. Checked their site for rentals and they have a 25% off deal going if you book your rental before June 30. Monthly Iridium 9555 Rental with 25 minutes $187.49/Month or $7.49 per day. As always with those rentals, insurance is extra and it will almost double your cost.
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Re: The Case for PLBs

Postby LMBSGV » Wed Jun 15, 2016 9:21 pm

I talked to support at Roadpost today. The decision on the new rates was made by ISAT with little prior notice. Since I have 200+ rollover units available and need the phone until sometime in October, I’ll probably get the 100 unit card for 90 days when my card expires the end of July and do my best to use up most of my units (if I keep an eye on the battery status, this should be pretty easy to do). After that, I’ll probably get a rollover subscription on a monthly basis as needed (I have a year to see what’s out there).
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Re: The Case for PLBs

Postby fishmonger » Thu Jun 16, 2016 6:41 am

I am calling bluecosmo today to get clarification on the "activate before July 1" piece. I may get a 100 unit 180 day card if activation before July 1 means the units are good through my October hike. If not, I'll get a 30 day for July and perhaps sell the phone for an Iridium before October. At this point, for my use, the Iridium is only $25 more per trip (75 instead of 50 bucks for a small 30 day prepaid). One of the main reasons I settled for the Isatphone was the lower cost of airtime when I got it, but that seems to have gone out the window. The phone and service itself work, but are clearly inferior to Iridum, so my phone will go to Ebay and a used Iridum will replace it, maybe not this year, but eventually.
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Re: The Case for PLBs

Postby fishmonger » Sun Jun 19, 2016 5:15 pm

ordered a 100 unit card and will activate it before July 1, which makes it a 180 day card, good for both my trips in July and October. Even if the expiration countdown should magically change to 90 days in July (it should not), I can add a month of minutes in September and make it through the second trip with plenty of airtime in reserve. After that I have to rethink the Inmarsat phone, as its main advantage over Iridium was cost of ownership.
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