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Inmarsat iSatphone

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Inmarsat iSatphone

Postby fishmonger » Sat Jun 04, 2011 11:00 am

anyone have one? know of use in the Sierra? Seems to be the iridium killer and if I can get some confidence in how their geo-stationarly satellites work versus the constantly moving Iridium setup, I may just go and get one for the next big trip. The phone seems more capable (at least more robust), is cheaper, too, and the service plans are much more acceptable for my random use of a few weeks at a time one, two or three times a year.

http://www.inmarsat.com/Services/Land/I ... nStudy.pdf

http://www.mackaysatellite.com/inmarsat ... promo.html



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Re: Inmarsat iSatphone

Postby maverick » Sat Jun 04, 2011 11:14 am

Hi Fish

I only have experience with Globalstar, which I used several years ago.
They were okay, I did not have any major problems getting locks, though sometimes it
took a while, but others did have major issues with getting locks or lines getting
dropped frequently, Iridium on the other hand has a good rep, but it was a little to
rich for my taste.
There customer service/ billing dept sucked on the other, and was the reason for me
dropping them.
I have considered get a sat phone again, especially if it gives me more time to spend
out in the backcountry since my wife can only handle not know how I am for only so long.
You did read this with the Macky Promo Kit: "NOTE: Equipment pricing contingent upon
activation & 12 monthsatellite airtime contract with Mackay Communication".
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Re: Inmarsat iSatphone

Postby fishmonger » Sat Jun 04, 2011 1:24 pm

globalstar is pretty much out of the game due to having holes in their coverage. Spot type devices work for them because the user doesn't know there's no connection. The Globalstar folks keep posting press releases of future upgrades and improvements, but I haven't seen any proof of that actually happening over the 2 years I've been following the sat phone market.

I also heard Iridium has a good rep - the thing that is different between Iridium/Globalstar and Inmersat is the way the satellites work. Iridium and Globalstar have them orbitting in low orbit, while Inmersat has them stationary above the equator in high orbit. Difference - with the low orbiting systems you have low angles to most satellites and dropped calls may happen very frequently in the mountains. Sometimes even just getting connected can be 10-15 minutes. The Inmersat satellite has the same problem at increasing angles to the satellite, which means the further off the equator you go, the more likely something will obstruct line of sight to the satellite, which you must have with any of these systems. In the Sierra, that means if you are on the north slope of a peak and it is more than 45 degrees to the equator-positioned satellite, it will be obstructed and you cannot call, unless you move to a better location. An Iridium phone may work there, but only at certain times, with the satellites flying by within short time frames and then possibly being obstructed again. All a tradeoff.

Iridium is more likely to work in any location, but also more likely to have outages when the other phone will work all day as long as you maintaian that line of sight. In maritime applications it is a clear winner, while in the mountains you may have issues with either one. If you need a phone you can use if you fall off a rock on the north face of the Palisades, you will be happier with an Iridium, but if you just want to call home and check on the weather forecast and bring a SPOT as backup, the much cheaper Inmersat phone may just work, plus, I think for 99% of the locations I usually travel at (muir Trail and similar stuff), the phone will work.

Price is a big difference - I can't find an Iridium 9555 used for less than $850, and the usage is more expensive. I think I'll be trying the Inmersat this summer. There's always ebay to cut your losses, and at $500 with 100 minutes included, I think I am not gambling too badly

here's the page I found showing the angle map - not the phone to take to Alaska, but in the Sierra, I think we're still good.
http://www.globalcomsatphone.com/support9.html
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Re: Inmarsat iSatphone

Postby fishmonger » Sat Jun 04, 2011 1:32 pm

maverick wrote: You did read this with the Macky Promo Kit: "NOTE: Equipment pricing contingent upon
activation & 12 monthsatellite airtime contract with Mackay Communication".


yes, any of the vendors make you sign these conracts - usually $15 a month plus $1 per minute if you use up the 100 promo minutes.

Iridium will not force these plans, but the cheapest pre-paid card is $150 for 75 minutes and it is good for only 30 days and then expires...
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Re: Inmarsat iSatphone

Postby tim » Tue Jun 07, 2011 11:23 am

I've used both. The Inmarsat phone works fine (better than I expected) and is cheaper than the Iridium phone for occasional use. Iridium cann drop calls in mountainous areas - Inmarsat you either get a reliable connection or you don't get one at all. However, Iridium is still outselling Inmarsat quite significantly. Not clear why (though the fact that dealers make more money on the more expensive Iridium phones probably has something to do with it) - I think the Inmarsat phone feels a bit cheap and plasticky (like the old 9500 Iridium phones it feels bulky and disproportionately light for the volume). Globalstar will have a working system by the end of this year and will have to offer some good deals to get back into the market next year.

Meanwhile, this also looks like a really interesting concept for next year:
http://blog.delorme.com/2011/06/03/delo ... unication/
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Re: Inmarsat iSatphone

Postby maverick » Tue Jun 07, 2011 12:35 pm

Thanks Tim for the link, it does look interesting at $250, and $9.95 a month starting plan.
It may be just what I needed.
HST= Wilderness Adventurer who knows no bounds, except for their own imagination.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org
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Re: Inmarsat iSatphone

Postby fishmonger » Tue Jun 07, 2011 12:42 pm

great info - I think I will go for the Inmarsat. They 45 degree angle you need to have to not be obstructed by a mountain towards the satellite that is pretty much straight south of the Sierra over the equator should not be a big deal very often. I can see a few deep valleys I visit frequently (Fish Valley, Mist Trail in Yosemite) to be just about the only place where I'd have a problem getting a signal.

I can't find an Iridium used for twice the price I'd get the Inmarsat phone new. Clear choice for me. I'll report back later this year, because I'll pick one up early next month so the 60 day 100 minute promo pays for my call this summer.

Regarding durability - there's a big test video somewhere I watched and the Iridium phone gets the lowest rating there. May feel better, but in real tests it is the least reliable.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=elUgbKHrYFc


I think they were paid by Inmarsat, so take with a grain of salt, but the do seem to have the creds to be more or less independent, so there's some validity to their findings

PS: how do you work this youtube tag? on my screen it doesn't work
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Re: Inmarsat iSatphone

Postby rlown » Tue Jun 07, 2011 1:14 pm

not sure i ever dug the whole, always connected thing when i'm in the back country. When things go bad, that's when electronics tend to fail. Looks like a great phone, but why?
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Re: Inmarsat iSatphone

Postby tim » Tue Jun 07, 2011 1:57 pm

Yeah, you have to take the tests with a grain of salt. Iridium publicizes a study by another company that comes up with the opposite result (actually my job is to consult on the market for these services, and I've worked for all the operators that offer satellite phones, so I know both of the people who did these studies).

The basic message is that both Inmarsat and Iridium work fine for an occasional user, and neither is likely to break in the field, so going for the cheapest solution is not a bad rationale. Just remember that by this time next year, if not before, there will be more choice and most likely cheaper and/or better phones. What you shouldn't do at this point is choose the TerreStar Genus phone (even if you can get it cheap), because that will very likely be discontinued (and the service stopped) later this year, not to mention the fact that it doesn't work very well in the first place.
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Re: Inmarsat iSatphone

Postby maverick » Tue Jun 07, 2011 2:25 pm

Tim wrote "Just remember that by this time next year, if not before, there will be more
choices and most likely cheaper and/or better phones."

Are these new players in the sat phone industry, or the same companies, with new products?
If new companies, can you shed some light on this, or even better, any other upcoming
products worth keeping a eye out for that look promising.
Please PM me Tim, if you'd rather not discuss it on a public forum.
HST= Wilderness Adventurer who knows no bounds, except for their own imagination.

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Re: Inmarsat iSatphone

Postby oldranger » Tue Jun 07, 2011 2:39 pm

It really hurts to agree with Russ but why? I carry a spot because Kathy requires it. Yeah once when a cell phone worked I got the parts I needed to fix my fishing rod but I really prefer to minimize my contact with the world when in the backcountry.

Mike
Mike

Who can't do everything he used to and what he can do takes a hell of a lot longer!
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Re: Inmarsat iSatphone

Postby tim » Tue Jun 07, 2011 3:42 pm

maverick wrote:Are these new players in the sat phone industry, or the same companies, with new products?
If new companies, can you shed some light on this, or even better, any other upcoming
products worth keeping a eye out for that look promising.


Here's the plans of the different companies, inasmuch as they are public:

Iridium: will launch a new phone later this year (expected to be a nicer phone at a high price point, but then they will make the 9555 cheaper). Also lots of people working on two-way messaging devices (ACR Electronics who make distress beacons is one to watch), though the DeLorme one is the cheapest I've seen so far.

Globalstar: will have two-way service fully restored by the end of this year. At that point expect good offers on the existing GSP-1700 phones (probably comparable pricing to the ISatPhone Pro for a smaller, nicer handset). They have an agreement with Hughes to make a new chipset for two-way service (though that contract still has 12+ months to run), so expect a two-way SPOT and a next generation phone at some point (2013 is a decent bet).

Inmarsat: don't expect much to change on the handset, possibly some new two-way messaging devices, but not much focus on consumer oriented devices.

LightSquared: plan to do a 4G terrestrial network and have to offer satellite service as one of the conditions. Not clear yet how good the handset will be or if all of this will come off (they are the people being accused of interfering with GPS, so there are efforts to stop the network being built), but if it does happen then they have to start selling a satellite-capable (dual mode) phone by about this time next year.
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