You may have heard of satellite phones, but you may not understand how they are different from your cell phone or the advantages of having one. Of course, you probably would not want to use one for your daily wireless phone service due to the per minute charges, but there are circumstances where having a satellite phone, also known as a sat phone, is beneficial.
Satellite phones are available that will allow you to make and receive phone calls, send and receive texts, and give you Internet access. Some models also can receive a page to the device letting you know a call is coming in when you are inside a building that does not have satellite service. Also, modern satellite phones do not look like the brick-style cellular phones from the 1980s. The new handsets are small and are available with an antenna that can be stored internally or folded down, making them easy to carry in a pocket.
1- Sat Phones Work When Land-Based Communication Networks Fail
Earthquakes, extreme weather events, civil or political unrest, and other situations can cause a failure of the land-based telephone networks in whatever location you are in. Traditional phones work through wires that can be compromised or disabled. VOIP systems typically work through cable or fiber optic Internet systems that can also be compromised or disabled during a disaster situation. Cellular networks use terrestrial antennas that can be damaged, overloaded or destroyed, making them unable to relay signals. Regional disasters can immediately overload cellular networks that are already operating daily at near peak capacities. Satellite phones communicate via satellites in orbit. If the communication networks are overloaded or disabled in your area, your satellite phone will still work.
2- Rugged Satellite Phone Options
If you purchase a satellite phone for emergency disaster communications, you can get one that has been ruggedized for industrial and military use. Some sat phone handsets are built to MIL-STD 810F standards as well as having an IP65 dust and water ingress resistance rating. This rating means the unit is sealed against dust and can take jetting water splashes hitting the phone from any direction. The durability of these satellite phone handsets can withstand much more than your average smartphone could. Explorers, military and law-enforcement personnel, mountain climbers, pipeline surveyors and geologists, sailors, hunters, skiers and outdoor enthusiasts can carry a durable phone that will work no matter where in the world they find themselves.
3- Global Operation
Some satellite phone companies offer phones that will work anywhere in the world. This means you can get a satellite signal to complete a call or send and receive a text whether you are standing on Ross Island in Antarctica or at the edge of the Chukchi Sea in Barrow, Alaska. You will have signal to make a call in downtown New York or sailing on the Indian Ocean on the opposite side of the globe. When you purchase a satellite phone, make sure it will work in the regions of the world where you expect or want to travel, as not all companies offer full global satellite phone service. However, be aware that there are places where satellite phones are illegal or under restrictions such as China, India, Cuba, North Korea, Russia and Burma.
In addition to small satellite phone handsets, there are integrated communications you can purchase for use on any boats or land vehicles. “Satellite telephone systems are available with an external antenna that can track the satellites to keep a strong signal while your boat or vehicle is in motion,” said Thuraya Telecommunications Company. This type of antenna can combine satellite phone service with satellite broadband service for a lower cost Internet option on land and sea. Also, just like cellular phone service providers, new satellite phone customers are offered great deals for their first handset and satellite phone service contract.