The first idea that comes to the mind of people when we talk about mobile telephony is small devices, connected to a cellular telephone network, which, in turn, offer the possibility of a wireless connection to the Internet. However, there are other possibilities in terms of mobile telephony, and one of the most important of these is satellite mobile service. During the 1980s, when mobile telephony was just expanding, the first satellite telephones came up. Despite the fact that they were really expensive, and that, therefore, only certain people could afford them, the regular consumers immediately identified the advantages of this kind of telephony. One of those advantages, which most of us still don’t have, even with our current smartphones, is that the coverage is almost unlimited. It is possible to make a satellite call from the Sahara desert, from international waters, from Antarctica, or from the very heart of the jungle. This can be tremendously useful in case of an emergency, by the way.
There are thousands of cases around the world of people who have come out alive from risky situations thanks to a cell phone call. If a ship is sinking, if there is a shooting in a rural area, in case of a snake bite in the depths of a forest … In many of those cases, a conventional cell phone might be perfectly useless. For this reason, the personnel of different international organizations dedicated to the rescue of human beings in areas of difficult access for regular cell phones, commonly use satellite telephones (even if they use a radio.) However, the advantages of satellite telephony are not restricted to military, lifeguards, police, and scientific expeditions. You could also use it, and this would mean a great benefit for your practical life.
Let’s say that you are planning an upcoming trip abroad for work reasons and you are not completely convinced to carry your cell phone, mainly because of the cost of international rates in these cases. A satellite phone is your best option then. In addition to the speed and security of the service, the cost will be significantly lower. It is a practical option for practical people!
Today, the challenges for a more widespread use of this technology are much lower. In fact, the first thing that is needed to use the satellite technology is a satellite terminal, which is actually a gadget that can be adapted to any smartphone. There are many models available on various websites that offer satellite telephone service.
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The basic functions of this technology are calls and text messages, however, it is possible that in the near future we have exactly the same functions as in the phones we use every day. In fact, because satellite technology is expanding, we may not have to wait long to find more and more smartphone apps created for satellite telecoms. The idea of several companies is that customers can access these networks and use exactly the same apps – instant messaging, e-commerce, video games, and more – in the smartphones they use every day.
One of the questions that arise, perhaps the first one every time, when we talk about satellite telephony is the cost. The rates will depend on how often you use this technology. If you are a sporadic client, that is to say, someone who’s only going to use the satellite connections for some calls and emergency situations, the prices are low and quite reasonable for this exceptional use. One dollar is the average in this case. Now, if it is an occasional client, it is best to pay for a plan. An average plan costs $ 50, € 42 in Europe, and this includes an average of 20 minutes in calls. For many people, this is not the best option though. For frequent customers, it is best to hire a plan that includes more minutes of calls and a cheaper price, which is possible for $ 60.
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In general, the satellite service coverage is quite good. When we talk about conventional cellular telephony, we all know that each operator has its own antennas network, and this means that the most powerful operator will have better coverage. This does not always happen with satellite telephony since each operator has a decent satellite fleet, and even the small companies do everything as possible to offer a good coverage around the planet. In fact, coverage is almost never the main complaint of customers, unlike conventional cellular telephony.
Some operators offer limited coverage because of territorial and political issues. They only offer coverage in some countries, while other operators offer a global service, restricted for certain countries. Nevertheless, there are companies that offer complete global coverages thanks to their satellite fleets. This is the case of Iridium, which has at its disposal a fleet of more than 60 satellites, almost at 800 km over the earth, which is constantly spinning around the planet. Deciding a satellite operator will depend a lot on the needs of the client, related to the places in the world that he or she frequents the most.