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Stephen Clough - Mobal Satellite Expert

Stephen Clough is the CTO of Mobal Communications Inc.

He has been selling & renting top quality satellite phone services for over 20 years and he prides himself on getting the best quality in products and technology for our customers.

Stephen says:

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Send me an email at fngryyvgrf@zbony.pbz or call 9am-5pm EST weekdays at 888-478-0460


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Buyers Guide

Inmarsat vs Iridium vs Globalstar - Which Satellite Phone Service is best for you?

Purchasing a satellite phone is a big decision, and it is important that you are making the correct choice. I hope that after reading my helpful guide you'll feel confident making the correct purchase.

Before you make any decision on which satellite phone to choose it is important that you understand the significant differences between how the satellite systems operate. Don't be fooled into comparing just the features and specs of the phone handsets themselves. These handset features are likely to be far less relevant to you than the significant operational differences described below:

Satellite Systems and Coverage

Inmarsat's satellite coverage is provided by just three satellites. These orbit the earth at very high altitudes (over 22,000 miles, incredibly). This height achieves what is known as a 'geostationary orbit', meaning that the satellites appear to remain fixed in the same position in the sky all the time. In contrast, Iridium and Globalstar's coverage is provided by lots of satellites which are constantly zooming around the earth.

With all of these systems, if you have a clear line of sight to any one of the satellites then you will be able to make and receive calls. If, however, your view to the satellite is obscured (by nearby buildings, trees, mountains etc.) then you will not get a signal at all, and you will not be able to use your phone. Therefore, because Inmarsat's satellites are in a fixed position, it means that if you can't "see" the satellite from where you are then you can't use your phone - simple as. You will have to move yourself to a different location where a clear line of sight to the satellite is available. With Iridium and Globalstar, however, even if your view to the satellite is currently obscured it's only a matter of time before the next one comes into view and you can make your call. With Iridium and Globalstar the satellites move to you, but with Inmarsat you must move to the satellites. Obviously this is a big convenience advantage to the Iridium and Globalstar service, but conversely this movement of the Iridium and Globalstar satellites will inevitably lead to some variability of the signal strength, and occasional dropped calls. With Inmarsat, as long as you maintain a clear line of sight to the satellite then your signal strength is assured, and dropped calls are much more unlikely. If voice clarity is important to you, then Globalstar is a clear winner; Iridium and Inmarsat can suffer poor quality calls at times.

To confuse things further, another significant difference is that Inmarsat's satellites orbit the Equator, while Iridium and Globalstar’s satellites are moving around all over the place. This might not sound significant, but it does mean that with Inmarsat, the further you travel from the Equator, the more increasingly difficult it will become to achieve that all-important line of sight to the satellites. In equatorial regions Inmarsat's satellites will be very high in the sky, thus very easy to connect to; but the further north or south you travel, the lower the satellites will be in the sky, and thus the harder it will be to be confident of getting a clear line of sight to the satellites. Moreover, as you approach the polar regions the Inmarsat satellites will be so low in the sky that it will not be possible to connect to them at all. Iridium gives you the only truly global coverage solution: With Iridium, the satellites will always be passing overhead, wherever you are in the world, so coverage is always assured, even at extreme latitudes. With Globalstar, although the satellites are moving, they don’t give you global service.

Features and Services

Once you have established that your satellite phone will work where you are going, you can then start to consider which kind of plan is most economical for you and which features and services are important to you. If you need to be able to receive calls, it’s worth considering what kind of phone number you get. Iridium and Inmarsat have special satellite phone numbers which can be difficult/expensive to call. Some cellphones, homephones and business phones are restricted from calling Iridium and Inmarsat phone numbers. If your phone can make calls to these numbers, you will often be charged very high rates. Globalstar is the only satellite system which gives you a US phone number. This is a great advantage for your friends, family and business contacts because it means they can always call you cheaply and easily – just as they would call a regular US number. Note that SMS text messaging is not available with Globalstar, so, if this service is essential to you, you will need to go with Iridium or Inmarsat.

Calling Plans

A wide range of prepaid and postpaid options are available on Inmarsat, Iridium and Globalstar. Globalstar is a great choice if you need to make and receive calls often on your satellite phone with its unlimited US & Canada calling plan. Iridium and Inmarsat offer options to suit every type of satellite phone user - from plans with low monthly fees and pay-per-minute usage through to prepaid plans with large bundles of inclusive minutes and various validity periods.

Purchase or Rental?

As we have seen, there’s a lot to consider when buying a satellite phone. Now that you are better informed, choosing between Inmarsat, Iridium and Globalstar should, hopefully, be much easier. Although there’s a lot to think about, I’m confident that within the features and services of each of the systems, there will be an option that suits your requirement perfectly. Here at Mobal, we offer Inmarsat, Iridium and Globalstar phones for sale with various calling plans, so if you are looking to buy a phone, there will definitely be an option that works for you.

If you only need a satellite phone for a short period – or if you need to use one infrequently - renting your phone will generally be a much more economical option. At Mobal, we only have Iridium phones in our rental fleet; we do not rent Inmarsat and Globalstar phones - and there are good reasons for this: Iridium’s truly global coverage means that rental customers do not need to consider the complications of whether or not the phone will work where they are going. In addition, Iridium’s equipment can withstand extreme temperatures, it is dust proof, shock proof and robust – making it ideal as a reliable rental product which can be used again and again for any kind of emergency or adventure!

In Summary…

For a quick summary and comparison of the main features of Iridium, Inmarsat and Globalstar, see my handy table below.

IRIDIUM
INMARSAT
GLOBALSTAR

Complete worldwide coverage makes this service an ideal choice for hikers, adventurers and explorers. The equipment is robust, waterproof and perfect for use in any emergency.

Inmarsat gives you the best signal strength and lowest chance of dropped calls. It's the ideal portable satellite phone for marine and leisure sailors. Great on land as long as you are not too far north or south.

Great for those who live or travel regularly to remote areas of North America with its FREE, unlimited, top-quality calls and US phone number.

TRULY GLOBAL COVERAGE,
including polar regions

Satellites pass across all areas of the globe, so you have the best possible chance of getting a signal.

NEAR-GLOBAL COVERAGE,
except polar regions over approx 70 degrees North or South

Satellites are always in the same fixed positions in the sky, so great if you happen to have clear visibility to the satellite, but not so great if you haven't!

LIMITED COVERAGE:
Coverage available in: North & South America, Europe, Northern Africa, Russia, Japan, Australia & New Zealand.
Coverage not available in: Central America, Central & Southern Africa, Middle East, Asia, Greenland, Antarctica, Oceans.

Like Iridium the satellites pass across the sky, so you have a good chance of getting a signal, however only in the regions indicated above.

TRULY GLOBAL COVERAGE,
including polar regions

Satellites pass across all areas of the globe, so you have the best possible chance of getting a signal.

NEAR-GLOBAL COVERAGE,
except polar regions over approx 70 degrees North or South

Satellites are always in the same fixed positions in the sky, so great if you happen to have clear visibility to the satellite, but not so great if you haven't!

LIMITED COVERAGE:
Coverage available in: North & South America, Europe, Northern Africa, Russia, Japan, Australia & New Zealand.
Coverage not available in: Central America, Central & Southern Africa, Middle East, Asia, Greenland, Antarctica, Oceans.

Like Iridium the satellites pass across the sky, so you have a good chance of getting a signal, however only in the regions indicated above.

Higher chance of dropped calls because the satellites are always moving overhead.

Low chance of dropped calls, as long as you're not moving.

Higher chance of dropped calls because the satellites are always moving overhead.

Calls can sometimes be worse than normal 'cellular' quality.

Good call quality.

Crystal clear call quality.

Equipment purchase from $1195.

Equipment purchase from $979.

Equipment purchase from $479.

Iridium phone numbers have a special "country code" of 8816. It can be very expensive to call direct to Iridium phones.

Iridium’s 2-Stage dialing system solves these problems by providing a domestic US number (in Arizona) to call instead. This means that virtually any phone will be able to call you, and the caller will only pay for the cost of a call to Arizona. The Iridium user will be charged an incoming call charge for calls dialed in this way, however the sum of these two charges is usually far less than the cost of a direct-dialed call.

Inmarsat phone numbers have a special "country code" of 870. It can be very expensive to call direct to Inmarsat phones.

With Globalstar, you get a regular US phone number - so it's cheap and easy for friends and family to call you.

SMS Text Messaging
Voicemail
Postpaid Plans Available
Prepaid Plans Available
Unlimited Calling Plan
Available for Rental
IRIDIUM

Complete worldwide coverage makes this service an ideal choice for hikers, adventurers and explorers. The equipment is robust, waterproof and perfect for use in any emergency.

TRULY GLOBAL COVERAGE,
including polar regions

Satellites pass across all areas of the globe, so you have the best possible chance of getting a signal.

TRULY GLOBAL COVERAGE,
including polar regions

Satellites pass across all areas of the globe, so you have the best possible chance of getting a signal.

Higher chance of dropped calls because the satellites are always moving overhead.

Calls can sometimes be worse than normal 'cellular' quality.

Equipment purchase from $1195.

Iridium phone numbers have a special "country code" of 8816. It can be very expensive to call direct to Iridium phones.

Iridium’s 2-Stage dialing system solves these problems by providing a domestic US number (in Arizona) to call instead. This means that virtually any phone will be able to call you, and the caller will only pay for the cost of a call to Arizona. The Iridium user will be charged an incoming call charge for calls dialed in this way, however the sum of these two charges is usually far less than the cost of a direct-dialed call.

SMS Text Messaging
Voicemail
Postpaid Plans Available
Prepaid Plans Available
Unlimited Calling Plan
Available For Rental


INMARSAT

Inmarsat gives you the best signal strength and lowest chance of dropped calls. It's the ideal portable satellite phone for marine and leisure sailors. Great on land as long as you are not too far north or south.

NEAR-GLOBAL COVERAGE,
except polar regions over approx 70 degrees North or South

Satellites are always in the same fixed positions in the sky, so great if you happen to have clear visibility to the satellite, but not so great if you haven't!

NEAR-GLOBAL COVERAGE,
except polar regions over approx 70 degrees North or South

Satellites are always in the same fixed positions in the sky, so great if you happen to have clear visibility to the satellite, but not so great if you haven't!

Low chance of dropped calls, as long as you're not moving.

Good call quality.

Equipment purchase from $979.

Inmarsat phone numbers have a special "country code" of 870. It can be very expensive to call direct to Inmarsat phones.

SMS Text Messaging
Voicemail
Postpaid Plans Available
Prepaid Plans Available
Unlimited Calling Plan
Available For Rental


GLOBALSTAR

Great for those who live or travel regularly to remote areas of North America with its FREE, unlimited, top-quality calls and US phone number.

LIMITED COVERAGE:
Coverage available in: North & South America, Europe, Northern Africa, Russia, Japan, Australia & New Zealand.
Coverage not available in: Central America, Central & Southern Africa, Middle East, Asia, Greenland, Antarctica, Oceans.

Like Iridium the satellites pass across the sky, so you have a good chance of getting a signal, however only in the regions indicated above.

LIMITED COVERAGE:
Coverage available in: North & South America, Europe, Northern Africa, Russia, Japan, Australia & New Zealand.
Coverage not available in: Central America, Central & Southern Africa, Middle East, Asia, Greenland, Antarctica, Oceans.

Like Iridium the satellites pass across the sky, so you have a good chance of getting a signal, however only in the regions indicated above.

Higher chance of dropped calls because the satellites are always moving overhead.

Crystal clear call quality.

Equipment purchase from $479.

With Globalstar, you get a regular US phone number - so it's cheap and easy for friends and family to call you.

SMS Text Messaging
Voicemail
Postpaid Plans Available
Prepaid Plans Available
Unlimited Calling Plan
Available For Rental

Mobal Satellite Phone Customers Include: Our Customers

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