A Satellite Phone, satellite telephone or SatPhone is a kind of mobile phone that connects to circling orbiting satellites
as opposed to terrestrial cell sites. Compared to terrestrial mobile phones,
they deliver very similar purpose such as voice, short messaging service
(texting) and low-bandwidth internet access functionality are supported through
most system infrastructure. They can also be called Satellite Mobile Phones.
Terrestrial cell site (Bet you’ve seen many around)
Circling Orbiting satellite
A satellite is an artificial object which has been
intentionally placed into orbit unlike the moon that is a natural satellite.
Depending on the satellite constellation architecture of a given
system, coverage may cover the entire Earth, or just
The four satellite networks (below) give basically the
same services, however in very different ways, with different kinds of coverage, quality and technology. Which Sat system is right for you? Depends on where and how you will make and receive phone calls, and what other supplementary services you may require, such as satellite internet access, connectivity for email, VoIP telephones, GSM and SMS messaging, to name a few.
Iridium is a constellation of 66 low earth orbit (LEO) communication satellites
Satellite mobile phones equipment differ widely,
some Satphone handsets have a weight and size similar to those of the middle
80s but then again their primary function is not to look sexy with thrills and
frills but more for safety and peace of mind among other critical essential things,
most have large retractable antennae.
However in the last few years a number of
recent satellite telephones are now alike in size to normal mobile phones even
some have no difference from an ordinary smartphone. See right–>
Explorations into remote areas
However there is an increasing trend
where a big number of private people are purchasing satellite phones as a safety
net against becoming unable to communicate with the world, especially if they
are with their families and loved ones because in some places where mobiles
phones dare not wander — that’s where satellite mobile phones show us what
they are made off.
Some people in the past may have needed a
satphone, but couldn’t……
The TerreStar Genus is the first Sat Phone that’s also a full-blown smartphone.
Satphones mostly, are in their element when used for expeditions and explorations into remote areas
where terrestrial normal mobile service is not available, satellite
mobiles allow mission-critical voice and
data connectivity in the most extreme of conditions.
As you would no doubt expect that sat phone
buyers are mostly public safety agencies, government and energy companies,
shipping, search and rescue organizations.
Holidays into remote places
Some people in the past may have needed a
satphone, but couldn’t, now things are different as some major factors have now
come into play, for instance there has been a heavy reduction in the cost of satellite
phones and airtime over the past few years.
Why We Need Satellite Phones
Iridium extreme 9575 (LEO SatPhone)
That technological leap unleashes satellite phones
(or sat phones) from the bonds restricting their Earth-based
brethren. Thus, they are the communication devices of choice in areas with
minimal or non-existent cell coverage, such as sparsely populated or poor
countries, locations where governments restrict cell and Internet access, or
where natural disasters wreck ground-based systems.
Thuraya SG-2502 Satellite Phone (GEO SatPhone)
Cell phones require cellular towers, which connect
with varying (and often disappearing) signal strength
World Satellite Phones don’t rely on a terrestrial
cell phone network. Instead, they beam their data directly to and from
satellites orbiting Earth.
Sat phones rely on a network of satellites that are either fixed above the
Equator (GEOstationary) or in Low Earth Orbit (LEO) anywhere from 500 to 1,000
miles above the earth.
Inmarsat Isatphone 2 (GEO SatPhone)
Sat phones are rarely affected by violent storms and,
depending upon their system architecture, work virtually anywhere in the world.
The devices weigh a few ounces and may be about the same size as your cell
Satellites fly above destructive storms
differences between normal and sat phones
As with cell phones, terminals (SatPhones) have all basic phone features
Yet, even though they are heavier and bulkier than cell phones
They aren’t brimming with the nearly endless capabilities and functions that your
A sat phone is a stripped-down phone that you’ll primarily use to place calls
or send short text messages.
The Two Types Of Satellites
Some companies developed low Earth orbit (LEO) systems like Iridium . And
others went with Geosynchronous satellites like Globalstar, Inmarsat and Thuraya for deferent
reasons, each configured constellation, has its advantages and disadvantages.
Geosynchronous satellites also called high earth orbit satellites or GEO
orbit satellites are in sync with the earths rotation as it spins (hence
the word Geo Geography and sync synchronised), which means that they remain and
stay in a fixed spot in the sky.
And because of this difference in calibrated configured constellation Satellite
mobile phone systems technologies work quite differently depending on what
company you are focusing on.
above the Earth’s equator and maintaining a high altitude orbit of around
22,000 miles (35,000 kilometers) they’re simply “out of this world” (literally)
The different types of Satellite Orbits to help you know the Satphone you need
Geo satellites are massive powerful satellites indeed, and because they are
very far away from earth 22,000 miles (36,000 kilometers) just one of them alone
can transmit service to a very wide geographical area of the Earth’s surface. Now
with a constellation of about only four GEO satellites, service can be provided
to most of the Earths surface.
Thuraya XT Geo Satellite Phone
Globalstar GSP- 1700 Geo Satellite Phone
They transmit all sorts of Data such as voice
calls, texting, video streaming, file sharing, television to mention
just a few. Now in terms of Satellite Mobile Phones Inmarsat, Thuraya and Globalstar are two accepted Major companies that use geosynchronous configurations
to provide Satellite Phone Services through out the world.
Low Earth orbit (LEO) satellites have much lower altitude, of
up to 930 miles (1,500km), Iridium operate at these orbits.
If geosynchronous satellites are the condos (can fly
as high as 4600 feet) of the industry, LEO satellites are the pigeons (can fly
as high as 7000 feet). LEO Sats, much smaller and lighter, and there are a lot
more of them in orbit.
Iridium 9555 LEO SatPhone
Inmarsat IsatPhone Pro Geo SatPhone
As we know how low the orbits of LEOs are, a satellite net work provider such as
iridium, will need as many as 60 LEO satellites (picture above) to cover most of
the world. So to maintain a consistent transmission to any position on the
planet at any given time a Sat Phone user may be in range of two or more of
these satellites as they propel around the planet in space, at around 17,000
miles (27,359 kilometers) per hour, at these phenomenal speeds they circle
the Earth in roughly two hours.
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