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Old 01-09-2015, 07:12   #1
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Decoding the multitude of sat phone threads.

There are loads of threads on this topic. LOADS! There's too much information! I've just spent the last 2 hours reading these threads and my mind is about to melt - it's just loads of people saying 'this is what i have and i like it'. My question is very straight-forward. I'm in the market for a sat phone. I want to know the most cost-effective way to get a satellite communications system that will do voice calls, sms and most importantly, grib data worldwide within 50N and 50S. That's it. Nothing else. No broadband data, no fancy gadgetry that talks to everything else on the boat, no in-built GPS so that everyone and their dog can track exactly where i am in the world. Is it possible?........

The people at inmarsat tried to be helpful but failed. First they asked me to contact my local dealer (there isn't one) and then they sent me links to services that i don't want or need. Every website i look at is crammed full of marketing touting every product as being 'the best' and listing loads of services that i don't want or need. I just want basic data (for grib files), voice and sms. Help! (please!)
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Old 01-09-2015, 08:16   #2
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Re: Decoding the multitude of sat phone threads.

Oh, you mean like a cell phone that is only a phone? Good luck...
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Old 01-09-2015, 08:24   #3
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Re: Decoding the multitude of sat phone threads.

This is simple. . . . you want an Iridium 9555 satellite phone (I personally would get an Iridium Extreme handset but it has more features than you are asking for). you will need the data kit to get gribs. And then you need either a pre-paid (cheaper) or post paid (most convenient) sim card.

Thats a simple easy to use system with no coverage holes
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Old 01-09-2015, 09:08   #4
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Re: Decoding the multitude of sat phone threads.

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Originally Posted by estarzinger View Post
This is simple. . . . you want an Iridium 9555 satellite phone (I personally would get an Iridium Extreme handset but it has more features than you are asking for). you will need the data kit to get gribs. And then you need either a pre-paid (cheaper) or post paid (most convenient) sim card.

Thats a simple easy to use system with no coverage holes
Perfect. Thank you! $1000 seems a little steep for a basic handset, but if that's the going rate........? Data kit....... OK, is that hardware or something i get from a service provider? And i can just plug this phone into a laptop with a USB cable and it will extract grib files from the ether through zygrib, or gribUS or whatever?
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Old 01-09-2015, 09:28   #5
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Re: Decoding the multitude of sat phone threads.

A used 9555 goes for about $500 on ebay.
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Old 01-09-2015, 09:58   #6
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Re: Decoding the multitude of sat phone threads.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DefinitelyMe View Post
There are loads of threads on this topic. LOADS! There's too much information! I've just spent the last 2 hours reading these threads and my mind is about to melt - it's just loads of people saying 'this is what i have and i like it'. My question is very straight-forward. I'm in the market for a sat phone. I want to know the most cost-effective way to get a satellite communications system that will do voice calls, sms and most importantly, grib data worldwide within 50N and 50S. That's it. Nothing else. No broadband data, no fancy gadgetry that talks to everything else on the boat, no in-built GPS so that everyone and their dog can track exactly where i am in the world. Is it possible?........

The people at inmarsat tried to be helpful but failed. First they asked me to contact my local dealer (there isn't one) and then they sent me links to services that i don't want or need. Every website i look at is crammed full of marketing touting every product as being 'the best' and listing loads of services that i don't want or need. I just want basic data (for grib files), voice and sms. Help! (please!)
Old info might not be much use.

Spot have a new device and good rates.

We've avoided satellite due to cost and previous experience with unreliable hardware.

Our SSB and Pactor meet our needs.

Sent from my SM-N900T using Cruisers Sailing Forum mobile app
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Old 01-09-2015, 10:06   #7
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Re: Decoding the multitude of sat phone threads.

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Originally Posted by DefinitelyMe View Post
Perfect. Thank you! $1000 seems a little steep for a basic handset, but if that's the going rate........? Data kit....... OK, is that hardware or something i get from a service provider? And i can just plug this phone into a laptop with a USB cable and it will extract grib files from the ether through zygrib, or gribUS or whatever?
Yea, try to find a used handset. They are extremely robust. I think the original spec was for CIA usage in the afghan mountains. They have a newer handset (the extreme) but it has a few more features than you were looking for - I am not sure if it needs an add on data kit or not - might be net cheaper if it does not.

Data kit has a piece of hardware - way overpriced for what it is (essentially a serial port) but such is life.

Then yes, you can just go do voice and data. If you plan to do a lot of data/e-mail it will be cheaper to get a compression service/server but you don't need it. Gribs are already compressed so all the compression service does with them is strip off excess header/footer info.
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Old 01-09-2015, 10:13   #8
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Re: Decoding the multitude of sat phone threads.

Just get an iridium go. It has the best coverage, no need for additional hardware or compression subscriptions, cheapest data rate overall and most flexible plans. Perfect for email, gribs calls etc. price around $700 and plans from $50-$125/month
Couple this with weather4d pro on your iPad for weather grib.
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Old 01-09-2015, 11:02   #9
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Re: Decoding the multitude of sat phone threads.

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Originally Posted by monte View Post
Just get an iridium go. It has the best coverage, no need for additional hardware or compression subscriptions, cheapest data rate overall and most flexible plans. Perfect for email, gribs calls etc. price around $700 and plans from $50-$125/month
Couple this with weather4d pro on your iPad for weather grib.
Thanks Monte, i will look at this one again. It confused the hell out of me when i was looking at the Iridium website! I don't have an ipad but i do use a windows tablet for openCPN and Ugrib so i presume it would work with that too.
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Old 01-09-2015, 11:05   #10
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Re: Decoding the multitude of sat phone threads.

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Originally Posted by leftbrainstuff View Post
Old info might not be much use.

Spot have a new device and good rates.

We've avoided satellite due to cost and previous experience with unreliable hardware.

Our SSB and Pactor meet our needs.

Sent from my SM-N900T using Cruisers Sailing Forum mobile app
Thanks, but Spot has abysmal coverage of the Pacific in particular, and I'm not looking for a SSB radio and all that that entails.
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Old 01-09-2015, 11:42   #11
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Re: Decoding the multitude of sat phone threads.

DefinitelyMe,
Definitely go with what Evans recommended!!
Get an Iridium 9555 (or Iridium Extreme)!!

Buy it from a reputable / approved Iridium dealer....or even better from Ocens, etc., and they'll provide you with all the hardware (ext. antenna, data kit) and software needed, and some support too!

BTW, if Ocens is too pricey for you, you may wish to look at using Sailmail....it's $250/yr, and works very well thru an Iridium handset...

Lastly....and very important...
Understand that while sat phones are good, and Iridium is great!! (I was one of the early alpha and beta testers of Iridium, almost 20 years ago)
BUT...
But, they do require a bit more effort to use than they typical cell phone....not the least of which is that, you're going to need an external antenna, in order to use the phone below decks (or at least use it reliably below decks)....


In a nutshell....go with Evans' recommendation!

fair winds..

John
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Old 01-09-2015, 17:47   #12
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Re: Decoding the multitude of sat phone threads.

Ka4, I'm not sure why you would recommend anything that requires ongoing subscriptions to Ocens or sail mail etc for compression services. We had an iridium 9555 before and it worked well with the access point router which negated the need for compression services, and now use an iridium go which also doesn't require compression services. A stand alone 9555 will require a compression subscription and I don't believe they are selling axcesspoint routers any longer.
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Old 01-09-2015, 18:33   #13
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Re: Decoding the multitude of sat phone threads.

Monte,
You are correct that these value-added services, although very effective, are not an absolute necessity.....
Quote:
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Ka4, I'm not sure why you would recommend anything that requires ongoing subscriptions to Ocens or sail mail etc for compression services.
But, for some users a seamless and "gadget-free" experience is worth a few extra dollars a year....
From the words tha he wrote, I made an assumption that this might be the case for "DefinitelyMe"....I could be totally wrong, but that was my reasoning...


fair winds...

John
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Old 01-09-2015, 19:19   #14
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Re: Decoding the multitude of sat phone threads.

I find the iridium go to be more seamless, less complicated and less expensive than our previous setup. The big factor is the difference between buying sims that may last for 12 months with the phone, at around $750 for 500 minutes, to having an adjustable data plan that can be switched off when not in use, limited for emergency use or $125/m for passage making with unlimited data.
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Old 02-09-2015, 05:55   #15
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Re: Decoding the multitude of sat phone threads.

Thanks a lot guys. From what you are saying Monte it sounds like the 'go' is pretty simple? Simple is good! Am i right in thinking that it works kind of like a wireless router in someone's house? So you plug it in, it does it's wizardry through satellites (rather than a phone line) and then you connect to it wirelessly with a laptop or tablet or phone or whatever, and use that device just as if you were sitting in a bar somewhere with a wifi connection? If that is indeed the case, I presume there's a way to make sure your device only downloads the stuff you explicitly tell it to?
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