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Old 21-06-2011, 19:58   #1
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Globalstar SatPhone Deal

I recently went down the west coast of the US (Victoria to SF) and took along a Globalstar sat phone. I wanted to report on this, as they have the deal of the century on right now and it might work really well for some. It worked well for us (I have no affiliation, etc. etc.)

Basically, they had a couple satellites fail, so they no longer have continuous coverage. You get coverage about half time for about 15 minutes at a time ( see Globalstar Call Times Tool). This is a royal PITA, and they don't plan to have the replacement satellites up until August.

So why did we choose to go with them? CHEAP!! They are offering a $500 handset and $20/month unlimited talk and data (text is receive only, but they have a data hookup to the computer that we didn't try). That's cheaper than a cell phone. You have to sign up for a year, but given that coverage should get better later this year, that's not a hardship. You're locked in to a great deal for a year.

Now, the experience is a bit frustrating, but we could make brief phone calls from offshore for basically nothing after the nominal handset investment. It worked for us.

Note also that there are huge holes in the coverage. It's great for Europe, the Americas, the Caribbean, Aus, and a few areas, but doesn't cover most of the Pacific. Not good for a westabout circumnavigation, but great for many.

Looks like the deal is only good in US and Canada for some odd reason.
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Old 19-08-2011, 09:59   #2
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Re: Globalstar sat phone deal

Anybody have additional thoughts about this? The deal ends 8/31. From what I've read they have new satellites up that will improve coverage, but they're waiting for some regulatory process before they can put them into service. That could happen any time after August, hence the timing of the deal. I can't find my references for that at the moment, so if someone has links, please post.
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Old 19-08-2011, 10:31   #3
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Re: Globalstar sat phone deal

I think it's probably a PITA and I wouldn't want to rely on it as a safety device. That's why I went with Iridium recently. Also, Globalstar is in a distressed financial position. Hopefully they'll come out of it but that's not a foregone conclusion
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Old 22-08-2011, 07:11   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PamlicoTraveler
I think it's probably a PITA and I wouldn't want to rely on it as a safety device. That's why I went with Iridium recently. Also, Globalstar is in a distressed financial position. Hopefully they'll come out of it but that's not a foregone conclusion
Absolutely it is a major PITA and totally unsuitable as a safety device. It is also the cheapest option by far to keep in touch with friends and family.

Not sure if the deal is still available.
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Old 22-08-2011, 09:06   #5
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Re: Globalstar SatPhone Deal

They are still advertising the deal, but when I look for dealers in NW WA area most don't have any mention of globalstar on their web sites and will tell you to buy the big buck ones( Does that have anything to do with profit margins?).

I am glad to hear that it worked for you, and I would like to give it a try as I have not yet installed my HF radio setup. I don't suppose you would consider renting that puppie to me for a few days as we are leaving for SF in the next couple of days? I will try the local dealers, but taking ferries to get around really eats up the time and coins. I am in Port Townsend hoping to get up to Neah Bay in the next couple of days.

At the rate things happen at sea( sink fast, drift slow), I think it will do nicely for me, but then I have a multihull which cannot sink and will have lots of pieces larger than a liferaft left if a ship runs right over me. If you have ever used a ham or ssb offshore, almost all communications will be on a schedule, sort of like the satellite availability windows, but much less frequent. Most of mine were of the 7 pm on this band sort. I did phone patch to landlines on tues at 8, or thurs if tues didn't happen, just to check in with the aged ones.

For someone so important that you need constant contact with shore activities to keep the wheels of commerce safe for democracy, then by all means it is certainly worth it to spend a few thousand for that priviledge.

For sailors on a budget, this is a tremendous opportunity to call friends and relatives to reassure them of your well being. Yes, calling the coast guard for search and rescue when you pull the handset out of your ditch bag and wait half an hour for a hookup would be handy. If you're terribly worried about a medical emergency, should you really be at sea on a small craft? If you ever end up in a life raft or floating on flotsam, you will have all the time in the world to wait, and they aren't exactly going to send a jet to pick you up in an hour anyway. I hope they will have already initiated a response from my EPIRB by then, but voice communications will certainly be a bonus in that situation.

plz excuse the rant,
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Old 22-08-2011, 12:41   #6
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There were a few dealers in the Victoria area. We went with Anchor Marine Electric. No handset in stock, but it came next day. I think your reasoning makes sense and it would be worthwhile for you. I'm sure globalstar's website will have dealers in your area who would be happy to have your business.
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Old 22-08-2011, 12:55   #7
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Re: Globalstar SatPhone Deal

I literally threw my Globalstar hand set away. Even when they had all their constellation up and operating it was hit or miss at best. One small cloud in the sky, no connection. If it is just a convenience phone thing, then fine. If you are carrying satellite communications as an emergency tool and want all the time every time communications, install a Inmarsat Fleet system (like a commercial vessel or fishing vessel). Inmarsat is dependable, it connects every time. I also got rid of my SSB for the same reason, no propagation now, wait until sun set, or too many sun spots right now, or try a higher/lower frequency... WHAT IF I NEED COMMUNICATIONS RIGHT NOW! I'll go with an Inmarsat system. It also does email and light web surfing.
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Old 22-08-2011, 16:26   #8
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Re: Globalstar SatPhone Deal

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Originally Posted by callistov42 View Post
I literally threw my Globalstar hand set away. Even when they had all their constellation up and operating it was hit or miss at best. One small cloud in the sky, no connection. If it is just a convenience phone thing, then fine. If you are carrying satellite communications as an emergency tool and want all the time every time communications, install a Inmarsat Fleet system (like a commercial vessel or fishing vessel). Inmarsat is dependable, it connects every time. I also got rid of my SSB for the same reason, no propagation now, wait until sun set, or too many sun spots right now, or try a higher/lower frequency... WHAT IF I NEED COMMUNICATIONS RIGHT NOW! I'll go with an Inmarsat system. It also does email and light web surfing.
I like your impatience

What kind of money would I be looking at for what you've got?
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Old 22-08-2011, 19:01   #9
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Re: Globalstar SatPhone Deal

$5000 for the hardware and about $35/mo airtime. I'm a part time cruiser with boat in St Martin. Heavy airtime usage one week mo.
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Old 22-08-2011, 19:27   #10
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Re: Globalstar SatPhone Deal

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$5000 for the hardware and about $35/mo airtime. I'm a part time cruiser with boat in St Martin. Heavy airtime usage one week mo.
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Old 25-08-2011, 15:10   #11
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Re: Globalstar SatPhone Deal

Local dealer was careful to advise all the issues but does have the phones in stock. The new 1700 phone was $500 but they had the older 1600 phone used for $200 with a car charger thrown in. My wife wants to be able to reach the kids and elderly parents and have thm be able to reach us. Think we will go this route if the boat survives Irene
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Old 25-08-2011, 15:21   #12
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Re: Globalstar SatPhone Deal

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$5000 for the hardware and about $35/mo airtime. I'm a part time cruiser with boat in St Martin. Heavy airtime usage one week mo.
Can you please tell us what system you have and whether it works at anchor or just at a dock? Many thanks.
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Old 01-12-2011, 08:22   #13
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Re: Globalstar SatPhone Deal

I see this post is a little old, but I wanted to throw out my input. They have extended the $20/month unlimited through the end of the year. Although they have added a maintenance fee of $4.95/month so it's really more like $25/month (plus a few dollars in tax). We have sold hundreds of the Globalstar phones, mostly for keeping in touch purposes as they are NOT good for life of death emergencies due to the coverage gaps. I think as long as you are aware of what the gaps are like (can go to Globlalstar's website and under tools there is a "Call Times Tool"), it can really work for a lot of people.

You can get the earlier model, gsp-1600 for about $150 used if you search online, or the newer gsp-1700 for $500. Both will be compatible with the new satellite constellation. They are planning another launch on December 25, 2011, and are hoping to have everything back up 100% first or second quarter of 2012.

Hope this helps, give me a shout if you have questions!
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Old 01-12-2011, 08:26   #14
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Re: Globalstar SatPhone Deal

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Originally Posted by SPDirect View Post
I see this post is a little old, but I wanted to throw out my input. They have extended the $20/month unlimited through the end of the year. Although they have added a maintenance fee of $4.95/month so it's really more like $25/month (plus a few dollars in tax). We have sold hundreds of the Globalstar phones, mostly for keeping in touch purposes as they are NOT good for life of death emergencies due to the coverage gaps. I think as long as you are aware of what the gaps are like (can go to Globlalstar's website and under tools there is a "Call Times Tool"), it can really work for a lot of people.

You can get the earlier model, gsp-1600 for about $150 used if you search online, or the newer gsp-1700 for $500. Both will be compatible with the new satellite constellation. They are planning another launch on December 25, 2011, and are hoping to have everything back up 100% first or second quarter of 2012.

Hope this helps, give me a shout if you have questions!
Is it believed that the quality of service of Globalstar will ever come back up to some kind of decent level?

I ask not out of idle curiosity, but because I inherited from the previous owner of my boat a fairly elaborate fixed installed Globalstar phone. I periodically wonder whether I should rip it out and toss it.
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Old 01-12-2011, 08:35   #15
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Re: Globalstar SatPhone Deal

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Hope this helps, give me a shout if you have questions!
Thanks for the info. The unlimited plan is only for the new phone, correct? And it includes text & data? What about incoming calls/messages? I haven't been able to answer these questions myself by looking at their site.

Does anybody else think its dumb to have the Call Times tool online? Like I'm going to check the Internet for a good time to call, then walk outside and use my satellite phone? It seems to me that the Call Times tool is useless if you're in the middle of the ocean, and it should be available offline.
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