How does a Satellite phone work?

How does a Satellite phone work?

- 28-May-2021

Great questions and the answer is quite simple. I have been running a satellite phone sales and rental business in the most isolated city in the world. Any Guesses??? 

Well it’s Perth, Western Australia and we lay claim to quite literally being  the most remote city.  So to the point of this article. I have often been asked at gatherings and parties how does a satellite phone work. 

Well firstly we have to understand what do Satellite phones do and what makes them so different from our usual cellular or mobile phone. The answer I have come up with is that simply put Satellite phones provide either telephone or data communications where there is no cellular or mobile phone coverage available. 

Now I hear you say “that’s in my living room” . No that’s not what I mean.  As  an example, in Australia the national Telco proudly advertises that it gives mobile coverage to 80 % of the population. What it neglects to then tell you is that 80% of the population live in 23% of the country. So what about the other 77% of the terrain around Australia. Well the answer is that you have no mobile or cellular coverage. 

Result, the need for a satellite phone. The reason is that unlike a normal mobile phone which uses telecom towers to transmit its signal across the land to a base station, which then in turn finds its way to the destination required. A satellite phone signal goes up not across. Meaning you must have direct line of site to the sky for it to work.  Then when you are finished  dialling,  the signal goes into space to be met by a revolving satellite which takes your signal, then pushes it out to 3 other satellites in space and creates and solid signal. All this is seconds. pretty impressive huh.

It then takes your signal and directs it to a land base station in the region you have requested by dialling the number you chose and hey presto connection.

The importance of this is that it does not rely on a constant row of towers to transmit the signal.  This allows you to be anywhere on the planet and make a call home to your mum or loved one. 

Even from the very top of Everest,  where this year a climber  let his wife know he had reached the pinnacle. To rowing across   the worlds Oceans in a kayak. 

It ‘s doesn’t comes down so much to how do they work but will they work where I want them to and when I need them to.  

Well there are currently three systems that cover most of the earth. First in Inmarsat, which started out life as a military range of satellites out of America. These are still used heavily by the military all over the world but have recently opened it’s doors to the corporate dollar. This system due to its cost is mainly used for high speed data transfer. 

Then comes iridium, The only truly satellite voice provider that covers the Globe. Iridium are recognised as the leader of quality satellite communication . Having recently just replaced the 9505a handset with the new smaller, lighter iridium 95555 handset. They are continually showing their commitment to improving their service. 

The third service That Australian and the Asia Pacific have access to is called Thuraya. Thuraya’s coverage covers three quarters of the earth surface. With their primary market being consumer handsets which are light, and very small.

Balance this with the price tag being half the price of its  Iridium competitor has allowed Thuraya to carve a huge market in Asia Pacific region. With the launch of their most recent satellite which covers the East Coast of Australia will without doubt bring added users to their existing network.

As to which service or provider should you chose, well that simply depends on your individual needs. The simple answer get good qualified advice as to what will assist you and you will have a safe and happy trip but will probably save thousands of dollars at the same time.  



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