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Old 16-02-2012, 07:08   #1
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Globalstar - Is It Getting Better ?

Here we are in 2012, the GS network of satellites is suppose to be improving, so anybody got any 1st hand experience? Do you use it for email/data?

I'm thinking about the latest $40/mon unlimited special, but if I can't replace my cell phone, I don't think it's worth it.
Tom
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Old 16-02-2012, 07:39   #2
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Re: Globalstar, is it getting better?

Depends on where you are. I use mine primarily off-shore out of range of cell phones mainly for getting weather gribs. The service is better but this Fall still wasn't good enough for phone calls. All the satellites are not yet activated.
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Old 16-02-2012, 08:10   #3
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Re: Globalstar, is it getting better?

I have had Globalstar since 2001 and the service is better now than it has been in years. Since the worst in 2007, they have launced several new satellites and put them in service. An additional group launched in December is not yet in service, but should be shortly.

I just returned from a trip to SW Florida and it is about 60% or better now that additional satellites have been put in service. Look on their website and download the Calltimes tool and you can see how many minutes it is available and when in your area. I was able to talk uninterrupted during my calls. I also used it to download grib files and it worked just fine for that. Don't expect to replace a cellphone - even if it is 100%. It is line of sight to the satellite, but will work in the cabin of a sailboat
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Old 16-02-2012, 08:57   #4
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Re: Globalstar, is it getting better?

I made the mistake of using Global Star in 2004-2005. Very poor service in many areas including NW Carib (as I recall there was even a class-action law suite against GS around this time. I did not participate, but I did refuse to pay my last bill -- which is probably more than I would have gotten from the suit anyway). Good service in the "oil patch" of the Gulf of Mexico.

I now have a SPOT device. Unfortunately, they use GS for their message delivery so, at least here in the NW Carib, message delivery fails quite often. SPOT recognizes this is a problem and offered me a $50 discount to renew this year. They told me that GS is deploying more satellites and land terminals, but I've been hearing this since 2004.

The fundamental problem is that Global Star is not a true satellite based system. They use the satellites for interconnecting land based antennas. So if you are not in range of one of their land based antennas then you have no service. Iridium is true 100% satellite based, but of course more expensive.
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Old 16-02-2012, 09:11   #5
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Re: Globalstar - Is It Getting Better ?

It will not replace your cellphone. It will however allow you to retrieve voice mail and make calls when out of cellphone range and the bird is insite. It averages 30 mins an hour uptime.
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Old 16-02-2012, 09:26   #6
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Re: Globalstar, is it getting better?

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Originally Posted by belizesailor View Post
The fundamental problem is that Global Star is not a true satellite based system. They use the satellites for interconnecting land based antennas. So if you are not in range of one of their land based antennas then you have no service. Iridium is true 100% satellite based, but of course more expensive.
That's not true. The satellite has to be in view of a land based receiver. It will not repeat to another satellite like Irridium will. The uplink from the phone is to the satellite.
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Old 16-02-2012, 10:02   #7
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Re: Globalstar, is it getting better?

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That's not true. The satellite has to be in view of a land based receiver. It will not repeat to another satellite like Irridium will. The uplink from the phone is to the satellite.
Probably the more correct term I should have used is "gateway station". However, even if my understanding of the interaction between phone/satellite/gateway station is a bit off, the bottom-line is that If you are not within the coverage area of a "gateway station" then you do not have service (just look at their coverage map and you will see this correlation very clearly). If they were fully satellite based, like Iridium, then their coverage areas would be the earth footprint of the satellite signal. Thus, if you are in the mid-atlantic or mid-pacific (or NW Carib as in my case) then you have no coverage via GlobalStar because there are no gateway stations in range (see their coverage map to verify this).

This is also how the issue was explained to me by Globalstar regarding their poor coverage in the NW Carib. Back then, they showed coverage in the NW Carib (and many other places where they did not in fact have it). I noticed that they have now updated their coverage map to explicitly indicate this lack of coverage in the NW Carib and a few other locations.

Perhaps a bit clearer explanation is presented below (snip from a WikiPedia arcticle).

"Due to the lack of inter-satellite linking, a satellite must have a gateway station in view to provide service to any users it may see. The use of gateway ground stations provides customers with localized regional phone numbers for their satellite handsets. But if there are no gateway stations to cover certain remote areas (such as areas of the South Pacific and the polar regions), service cannot be provided in these remote areas, even if the satellites may fly over them"
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Old 16-02-2012, 10:02   #8
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Re: Globalstar, is it getting better?

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Originally Posted by Vyndance II View Post
That's not true. The satellite has to be in view of a land based receiver. It will not repeat to another satellite like Irridium will. The uplink from the phone is to the satellite.
I think that's what he was saying...

Does anyone have experience with IsatPhone Pro? This looks like it might be a lower-cost alternative to Iridium. It uses the Inmarsat constellation and the phone is about half the price of a new Iridium. The airtime seems to be cheaper than Iridium, but the airtime plans are pretty different, so it's hard to tell for sure.

I'm happy with my new Iridium phone, but some friends are considering the IsatPhone Pro.
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Old 17-02-2012, 09:05   #9
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Re: Globalstar, is it getting better?

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Originally Posted by Paul Elliott View Post
I think that's what he was saying...

Does anyone have experience with IsatPhone Pro? This looks like it might be a lower-cost alternative to Iridium. It uses the Inmarsat constellation and the phone is about half the price of a new Iridium. The airtime seems to be cheaper than Iridium, but the airtime plans are pretty different, so it's hard to tell for sure.

I'm happy with my new Iridium phone, but some friends are considering the IsatPhone Pro.
Based on this review, it doesn't appear to be very good:
Inmarsat IsatPhone Pro Review & Rating | PCMag.com
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Old 27-04-2014, 19:26   #10
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Thumbs up Re: Globalstar - Is It Getting Better ?

I've just activated my GSP-1600, and here in the north San Francisco Bay Area, it's been working amazingly.

It usually takes about 10-20 seconds to find and register onto a satellite from first turning on the phone, and it stays connected reliably. I've only made two very short test calls so far (under one minute), so I can't speak to any fading issues. I'll be doing some more testing after I receive the first bill.

I'd have to say that Globalstar's new second generation network seems to be good competition for Iridium's network with I tried in the south bay.

I also have a DeLorme InReach (Iridium), so I may try to do some sort of comparison review in the future.
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Old 27-04-2014, 19:59   #11
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Re: Globalstar - Is It Getting Better ?

I have had my GSP-1700 for a couple of years. It works every time I turn it on. Even before the competition of the the new constellation I had the service I needed. I am about to start trying the OCENS Grib explorer for Mac. Need to order a USB to Serial adapter and then I am off. Then again I might wait for the OCENS Grib explorer plus for iPad.
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Old 28-04-2014, 06:07   #12
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Re: Globalstar, is it getting better?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Elliott View Post
I think that's what he was saying...

Does anyone have experience with IsatPhone Pro? This looks like it might be a lower-cost alternative to Iridium. It uses the Inmarsat constellation and the phone is about half the price of a new Iridium. The airtime seems to be cheaper than Iridium, but the airtime plans are pretty different, so it's hard to tell for sure.

I'm happy with my new Iridium phone, but some friends are considering the IsatPhone Pro.
I have an Iridium phone and Ive sailed with an Isatphone pro.

The main issue with Isat is the difficulty in getting a lock on the satellite and holding onto that lock. Whereas Iridium was actually good enough to use below in the cabin ( data needed an external antenna). we didn't have data transport on the Isat so can't comment on that ( I believe its available now). But given if the sensitivity that we experienced with Iridium , was carried over to Isatphone, Id say it would be awkward to maintain any sort of long comms session.

Voice quality was similar, Isat at sound a little more "mechanical"

Cant comment on tariffs, I great great support from my UK based Iridium service time provider that I stay with them. ( monthly account but they let me disable it in the winter) .

personally I think the Inreach is the way to go.

Does anyone know if there is a Iridum SBD modem based text terminal type of solution ( mina like Inmarsat mini C for iridium )

dave
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Old 14-06-2014, 20:34   #13
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Globalstar - Is It Getting Better ?

I will give you an update as my last post on this was in 2012. Globalstar is pretty much 100% now - as of late 2013. I went on a long cruise from Kentucky Lake to Punta Gorda, FL from October 2013 and returned to Kentucky Lake in Late March 2014. I used Globalstar with XGate when I had no cell service for Internet and used the phone fir calls in spotty cell service. I am using the 1700 model with a Redpoint wireless Optimizer so I can get internet on Ipad.

I had no problems while the phone was out in the cockpit, but had spotty service inside the cabin receiving through the deck. I wish I could find an external antenna footprint it without having to buy the vehicle kit. I believe with an external antenna it would be 99.9%. If I make the trip again, I'll buy the vehicle kit if I can't find an antenna only.

If anyone knows an antenna source that would work without too great a signal loss - other than the vehicle kit, I would like to know about it.
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Old 14-06-2014, 20:52   #14
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Re: Globalstar - Is It Getting Better ?

Another vote for the Delorme Inreach. Simple, reliable, cheap. Sold my satphone on Ebay. SSB is next.
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Old 14-06-2014, 21:04   #15
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Re: Globalstar - Is It Getting Better ?

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Another vote for the Delorme Inreach. Simple, reliable, cheap.
I own both the InReach SE and a Globalstar GSP-1600. I think they're both excellent products, but they're not really designed with the same purpose.

I use my InReach while I'm camping, because its a very easy way to send short text messages or position reports to family. The SOS feature is also great to have.

The Globalstar on the other hand, allows me to send and receive email using the Winlink 2000 system, order a pizza in Brazil, download GRIB files, etc.

I guess it's a question of what you're gunna do with it. Price wise the InReach is about $150 a year for ten text messages a month, the Globalstar is $300 a year for 10 minutes talk or Internet a month.
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