I had a sat phone back before WiFi
. It worked fine for downloading wx maps (my primary interest) and up/downloading emails - but - I was shown how to turn off all the graphics in web pages using Internet
Explorer. This eliminated all the time needed to download massive amounts of non-relevant stuff in every webpage. Basically the Internet
Explorer was operating in "text-only" mode.
But I do not think that is possible anymore. The modern webpages are just loaded with megabytes of fancy graphics and frames and "make it pretty/beautiful" trash. I have complained for years to my financial outfits that their webmasters are spending too much time trying to win awards for beauty and leaving the bank customer without mega-bandwidth behind. A financial bank statement page that used to take a minute to load as a text page now takes 5 to 10 minutes or more unless you have "high-speed" access. Which is not possible with any sat phones we cruisers can afford.
So the basic question of what are the usefulness of SSB (Ham and/or Marine), sat phones, etc. has changed.
SSB (non-HAM) now offers all the practical useful features that used to be only in the domain of HAM. CruiseEmail and SailMail even use the same equipment
and protocols/programs and you don't need a HAM license
For coastal and island cruisers, WiFi
is now the prime vehicle for communications
what with Skype and Facebook, etc. Even Chris Parker is now available on the web.
Offshore during inter-island passages there is little need for long range communications
. However, extended offshore passages like the crossing the Atlantic or Pacific, etc. is where SSB is still very useful, if not required, for weather and communications. The HAM coverage is still, IMHO, better in the oceanic areas than the commercial
Phones - Globalstar
and Iridium are viable especially when you need communications in a hurry (subject to satellite
availability, etc.). So for "safety" reasons they are valuable in my opinion especially for ocean crossings and even some inter-island passages.
If I had to prioritize due to limited budget
, I would put powered long range wifi antenna
systems first; SSB a close second (sub-priority - Marine first and HAM second); and Satellite Phones third. The reason for the higher priority on SSB are the cruisers nets available during ocean passages. Being able to talk "live" to a group of other cruisers while making a passage
is a very valuable safety