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Thread: Sat phone

  1. #1
    Idleclamp's Avatar
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    Sat phone

    I did a search, and found most of the threads pretty dated.

    Iím considering getting a sat phone for travels to Alaska and where there is no or limited cell coverage. I have a Garmin InReach I use for tracking and short messages, but Iím thinking a sat phone would be helpful when a text message wonít do. Has anyone gotten a sat phone, and discovered it wasnít really necessary? What brand (Iridium seems to have a lot of good reviews). What service level is best and why?

    Thanks,
    Eric


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  2. #2
    stewartb's Avatar
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    Iridium is the preferred service up here. If you're just visiting? There are a couple of iridium dealers who rent phones with sim cards. If you're looking to buy? Choose a plan that suits your region best and then buy whatever out-of-region minutes you think you need for a trip. I use an Alaska-specific plan and when I travel I buy a temporary international sim card. To maintain world-wide service is pretty spendy.

  3. #3

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    I had an Iridium 'phone but got rid of it due to cost. When I had it I was within an ADIZ and needed a 'phone to close my flight plans. The ADIZ boundary moved and now I no longer file a flight plan, just a Flight Itinerary that I can close with an Inreach message.

    I find the Inreach to be perfectly adequate for my needs, and much cheaper than a sat 'phone.
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  4. #4
    BC12D-4-85's Avatar
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    I just sold mine but only for lack of use versus annual cost. Next is Garmin inReach. Shows location and text messages work.

    Gary
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  5. #5
    Crash, Jr.'s Avatar
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    Myself and everyone I know have moved to just using an Inreach. They work great up here. The text message generation seems to have made the sat phone obsolete.
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  6. #6
    stewartb's Avatar
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    Talking to my 2 year old grand daughter and her 5 year old brother are well worth what my Iridium costs. The same is true for talking to my wife when things aren’t working out as planned. Human communication may be changing but it isn’t all good.
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  7. #7
    Scooter7779h's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Crash, Jr. View Post
    Myself and everyone I know have moved to just using an Inreach. They work great up here. The text message generation seems to have made the sat phone obsolete.
    I let my Iridium sat phone lapse, use InReach and SpiderTracks spider texts. When I drove the Alcan the third time the end of October, my friend who I was helping drive wife wanted to have access so he bought a 1 month 60 minute SIM card for my Motorola that was only $30. Agree if your coming only for a visit to rent a sat phone. You can use mine if you want, buy a SIM card for 30 days or more months if your here longer.


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  8. #8
    stewartb's Avatar
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    But you have fabulous cell coverage at your cabin. Game changer!
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  9. #9
    Scooter7779h's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stewartb View Post
    But you have fabulous cell coverage at your cabin. Game changer!
    Yes at cabin good cell. But itís all those other places I go, or if I have an issue 1/2 way from your cabin to mine thereís no cell service.


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  10. #10
    stewartb's Avatar
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    I never use a phone when flying. I sure do appreciate it when on the ground. Portugal in the spring. I’ll have my phone!

    FWIW? I have an Inreach, too. Given the choice of which “communicator” to use? There is no choice. The sat phone gets the nod.
    Last edited by stewartb; 11-03-2021 at 09:53 PM.
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  11. #11
    TVATIVAK71's Avatar
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    You can text on the SAT phone too. I like the phone and it’s nice to call FSS for flight plan changes and call ASOS stations. Guess if I was really cheap just start squealing on 121.5 or the area center freq and have the high altitude birds relay any messages.
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  12. #12

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    I have both the InReach and an Iridium phone, the phone has the Alaska/Canada plan. I never use many minutes on the phone, it is for the few times when texting won't cut it, hard to put a value on that. I have had bad personal experience with Global Star, go with Iridium if you do decide on a phone.
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  13. #13
    Bill Rusk's Avatar
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    I use the InReach as well, but I do have an a iridium sat phone. I get the “northern lights plan” each year which is about 250 minutes. I never use anywhere near the full amount. It’s an insurance policy. If you spend a lot of time out in remote areas it’s entirely possible at some point you’re going to need it, and although the InReach is good it’s just another part of the kit, and a part of the cost of the trip. Like having a weeks worth of food, a pretty extensive tool kit, etc.
    Life is full of choices. Do what works for you.

    Bill
    Very Blessed. "It's not an obsession, it's a passion"
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  14. #14
    stewartb's Avatar
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    Now that Iridium’s new constellation is in place has anyone used an Iridium Go? I think that would be a better purchase than a phone if I was in the market for an Iridium product today. It essentially turns your smart phone into a sat phone. I’m curious about how it handles data. I guess I’ll dig out my Axcesspoint and give it a try again. It’s supposed to work better with the new satellites. It tethers to my sat phone and allows limited mail and data services from my smart phone. Pretty clunky compared to what the Go is designed to do. If it works as planned I anticipate the Go platform will replace sat phones for most users.
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  15. #15

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    I have both also. It’s hard to beat the ability to call the wife and coach her through a flat tire when when you’re sitting up in the Brooks Range.
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  16. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by stewartb View Post
    Now that Iridium’s new constellation is in place has anyone used an Iridium Go? I think that would be a better purchase than a phone if I was in the market for an Iridium product today. It essentially turns your smart phone into a sat phone. I’m curious about how it handles data. I guess I’ll dig out my Axcesspoint and give it a try again. It’s supposed to work better with the new satellites. It tethers to my sat phone and allows limited mail and data services from my smart phone. Pretty clunky compared to what the Go is designed to do. If it works as planned I anticipate the Go platform will replace sat phones for most users.
    There looks to be another phone possibility coming down the pike from Elon Musk's Starlink system. I am beta testing the Starlink internet system right now and it is incredible, with all the satellites they have in the air, I would think that phone service should be even better than Iridium and hopefully cheaper.

  17. #17

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    When I flew 2008 from Canada to the Atlantic crosscountry through the canadian arctic, I had an Iridium Satphone. It was my backbone doing this magnificance trip
    The wandering raven
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  18. #18
    soyAnarchisto's Avatar
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    Iridium is going to be a waste of money in the not-to-distant future with starlink. Rent or get by with inReach and iridium go.
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  19. #19
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    I don’t know much about satellites but using broadband through a fixed dish isn’t the same as using a phone with a little candy bar antenna. Given the Iridium replaced all their satellites a couple of years ago I’m confident they aren’t going by the wayside anytime soon. And FWIW? SpaceX did the satellite transport so one would think Iridium and Starlink are pretty familiar with each other’s business plans. In any case my Iridium phone works well and will continue to go with for the foreseeable future.
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  20. #20
    soyAnarchisto's Avatar
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    Just saying the technology here is going to move quickly so be careful making large investments in hardware until it shakes out. The fixed dishes are going to give way to mobile receivers and will shrink in form factor. Mobile broadband attached to your plane is just a couple years away. SpaceX will carry anything to NEO for a buck - if the iridium network could handle the bandwidth the star link would not have launched their own constellation of satellites. Rent.
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  21. #21

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    I can more detailed information faster with a sat phone wind, weather weather trend direction changes to landing spot
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    cubflier's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sixmile View Post
    I can more detailed information faster with a sat phone wind, weather weather trend direction changes to landing spot
    I agree in principal but the thing I like about the inReach is having weather in written form so I can review it. As an example if I call(via sat phone) Palmer FSS for a current TAF and it ends up being one of those long winded ones separated by multiple from statements at different times I can forget some of the key points in that TAF the moment I hang up. Whereas if that TAF is in writing on my inReach I can review it in detail. I have both a sat phone and an inReach as they each have strong points that I can't seem to live without.

    Jerry
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    If it looks rough...it is!!
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  23. #23

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    I never tried using the sat 'phone from my PA-12, but I suspect that the engine noise would be a problem. Bluetooth to a Bluetooth-enabled headset would possibly be okay, but would mean more money that I'd rather spend on gas.

    On the other hand, I often use the Inreach while flying. I can get TAFs and METARs, text to my dock helper to bring another load, and send track points.

    Here in Canada the available Iridium 'phone plans are not as generous as in the US and I found myself paying every month when I rarely used the 'phone. I can suspend my Inreach service during the meanest weather for zero cost.


    Having both would be nice but, for me, a waste of money
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  24. #24
    Idleclamp's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NunavutPA-12 View Post
    I never tried using the sat 'phone from my PA-12, but I suspect that the engine noise would be a problem. Bluetooth to a Bluetooth-enabled headset would possibly be okay, but would mean more money that I'd rather spend on gas.

    On the other hand, I often use the Inreach while flying. I can get TAFs and METARs, text to my dock helper to bring another load, and send track points.

    Here in Canada the available Iridium 'phone plans are not as generous as in the US and I found myself paying every month when I rarely used the 'phone. I can suspend my Inreach service during the meanest weather for zero cost.


    Having both would be nice but, for me, a waste of money
    Pardon my ignorance, but can you suspend the sat phone service like the InReach or not?


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    if I have hunters to pick up on some hill top I want the most accurate weather the fastest way that's with sat phone
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  26. #26

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    Quote Originally Posted by Idleclamp View Post
    Pardon my ignorance, but can you suspend the sat phone service like the InReach or not?
    It was a few years ago now, but when I looked into that the answer was "yes". But then there was a $300 charge to re-instate your service. Canada - so YMMV.
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  27. #27

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    I use both in Alaska, my inreach text are often very delayed and having had the need for help in the past,, it sure was comforting hearing a human voice say,, help is on the way.....
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  28. #28
    stewartb's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NunavutPA-12 View Post
    I never tried using the sat 'phone from my PA-12, but I suspect that the engine noise would be a problem. Bluetooth to a Bluetooth-enabled headset would possibly be okay, but would mean more money that I'd rather spend on gas.

    On the other hand, I often use the Inreach while flying. I can get TAFs and METARs, text to my dock helper to bring another load, and send track points.

    Here in Canada the available Iridium 'phone plans are not as generous as in the US and I found myself paying every month when I rarely used the 'phone. I can suspend my Inreach service during the meanest weather for zero cost.


    Having both would be nice but, for me, a waste of money
    I have an Iridium airplane antenna thatís ridden in my Cessna for 10 years. I can connect my sat phone to headsets using a Safety Cell adapter. It works great. I donít really need the remote antenna. Reception is good from the dash.

    A pic of the Safety Cell, phone cradle, and puck antenna. Simple, small, and light.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

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    Last edited by stewartb; 11-10-2021 at 08:15 PM.
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