Satellite phone: features and specifications. Satellite connection

Despite the ubiquitous development of cellular networks and the huge number of towers, which continues to grow, there are still areas on the planet where the use of such technology is impossible. In these inaccessible areas, satellite communications come to the rescue.

Satellite communication - what is it and what is it for?

In essence, the satellite does not differ fundamentally from the usual for a mobile communication company; it performs the same functions and allows establishing communication between phones. The principal difference is the scope. Where a classic mobile (cell) phone can fail and deliver the ill-fated “No Service”, notifying the subscriber of the absence of a cellular coverage nearby, satellite communication will fully function and will not allow losing contact with the outside world.

This is extremely important in those moments when the subscriber is chosen outside the cellular coverage, for example, on an exotic trip, to the mountains or dense jungle.Often, such a connection saves lives, because only through it will it be possible to contact a group of rescuers if a person unexpectedly finds himself in a dangerous situation. Also, satellite communication is used by those who are in constant traveling for work and vitally need the opportunity to accept or make a call at any time.

satellite phone

Satellite phone: key features

To work with this type of communication requires a special satellite phone. They are of several types, namely: in stationary and mobile performance. Mobile satellite phones in their appearance resemble classic phones, released in the period of 80-90-ies, but they have one characteristic detail: almost always such phones are equipped with an additional, hidden antenna. Setting up a satellite phone is almost the same as setting up a regular phone, you just need a suitable SIM card.

Stationary options are associated with the satellite using specialized ground interfacing stations. You can get by and portable version of such a station.

iridium satellite phone

A number of manufacturers of satellite phones and, accordingly, owners of satellite networks,produce special accessories for modern smartphones, which are small covers that can make absolutely any gadget satellite. These cases connect to smartphones using a standard charging port and have the full range of peripherals typical of smartphones, for example, headphones jacks. Cases are equipped with their own battery, can charge a smartphone, that is, act as a battery cover.

The principle of satellite communications

Proceeding from the name, it is clear that communication with a satellite is necessary for the operation of a satellite phone. A satellite phone transmits a signal directly to the satellite, which, in turn, transmits it to a friend to the connecting satellite, and already it finishes the process and transmits a signal to the ground gateway station. In the end, the call goes to the stationary device, which closes the chain.

A satellite phone is capable of operating both within a specific area and throughout the entire Earth. Everything depends on the satellites, some of them are close enough to the Earth and move relative to it, they allow you to cover the entire planet and make a call to any point.There are other types of satellites that are relatively far from the globe in geostationary orbits. Such satellites cover only specific locations, thereby limiting subscribers.

satellite phone rates

Satellite operators

In satellite communications, the same laws apply as in cellular, there are a number of operators providing satellite communications services. As a rule, these are the same companies that launch their satellites into space. Each of them has its own characteristics, its own minuses and pros. At the moment, there are four main satellite communications operators, including: Iridium, Thuraya, Globalstar and Inmarsat.

The operator “Iridium” and its devices

“Iridium” is not just an operator, but a full-fledged satellite constellation. It owns 66 satellites moving in 11 near-Earth orbits. The distance from the satellite to the earth is less than 1000 kilometers. For the user, this means that no matter where in the world he is, using the services of this operator, he will always be in touch, the main thing is to be outdoors. Even if you didn’t connect while trying to connect,it is enough to wait some time and try again, as the satellites move quickly enough, and one of them will fly over the subscriber in the next 10 minutes.

Satellite phone "Iridium" does not support other SIM cards and can not switch between cellular and satellite communications.

satellite phone numbers

Also, it seems to many that complete anonymity in the post-Soviet space is useful. The company does not have ground interfacing stations in Russia. This fact completely excludes the possibility of wiretapping within the country, even if the special services take up this business. Satellite phone "Iridium" is not equipped with a GPS-module.

The operator Thuraya and his devices

This operator has three satellites located in geostationary orbit. The distance between the satellite and the earth reaches 35 thousand kilometers. Unlike the Iridium satellites, these satellites operate only over a certain point near the equator, since they do not move relative to the planet. Roughly speaking, the Thuraya satellite phone does not function at the poles, the further the subscriber moves away from the equator, the less chances to establish a connection.

Thuraya entered into contracts with many “land” mobile operators, thanks to which, the company's devices can work with ordinary GSM-SIM cards. This allows phones to automatically switch between different types of communication. At the same time, the cost of services of the cellular operator increases several times. At the same time, you can save on even more expensive satellite communications when there is no need for it. Thuraya phones provide Internet access at speeds up to 8 kilobytes per second, which is quite a high figure for satellite Internet. The devices are equipped with a GPS module and continuously transmit location data to the company's servers. On the one hand, this fact can be confusing, as the user is constantly monitored, on the other hand, such a function can save the life of a careless traveler and extreme lover.

satellite phone thuraya

The operator “Globalstar” and its devices

Perhaps the most problematic operator, providing not the best quality of communication. In 2007, analysts conducted a study and made sure that the amplifiers installed on satellites degraded over time, much faster than design engineers expected.The reason for this is the satellite orbit: they pass through the Brazilian magnetic anomaly, which has a negative effect on the amplifier.

In order to somehow improve its position, Globalstar launched several spare satellites into orbit, but to this day there are problems with calls. Often the waiting time for registration in the network reaches 15-20 minutes, and the conversation itself lasts no more than 3 minutes.

The company manufactures its own devices. For example, the eponymous satellite phone "Globalstar". Also in their networks work devices from Erricson and Qualcomm.

satellite phone

The operator "Inmarsat" and its devices

The company manages 11 satellites hovering in geostationary orbit. The communications provider focuses on professional use and provides communications for the security services, the navy (including the Russian, when domestic satellites have failed) and so on. However, there are other business-oriented subsystems. Through the satellite system, you can make voice calls, transmit data via the Internet and send distress signals. Not so long ago, new-generation satellites were launched into orbit, providing high-quality communications and an ISDN data connection at high speeds.

The company does not deal with the development of portable solutions for the average man; therefore, this is not the best choice for civilians looking for satellite phones.

satellite communication setup


The cost of services of the companies described above is significantly higher than the cost of a GSM connection. Iridium and Thuraya work directly with their users selling SIM cards for satellite phones.

Thuraya, for example, charges a fee for the SIM card itself (about 800 rubles), for the initial connection (about 700 rubles). Communication is paid by the minute, on average from 20 to 40 rubles, depending on which phone is connected to the call. Internet traffic is paid separately - 360 rubles per megabyte. Tariffs for international calls depend on the country taking the call, on average from 70 to 120 rubles. Incoming calls are free.

Iridium offers global tariffs right away and sells them in prepaid packages. The price of the basic package is 7500 rubles, it includes 75 minutes of communication. There are other packages designed for corporate users, the number of minutes in those reaches 4000 or more.

Satellite phone numbers in Russia, like cell phones, start with a +7 (location code) and a seven-digit number.The international number includes the full country code - +8816 265 and so on.

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