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Old 09-09-2015, 01:00   #1
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Immarsat 2 or Iridium

I know there are a lot of threads on this subject, but things are changing all the time so I'm looking for up to date information.

We are astarting a circumnavigation next spring and in addtion to our SSB, we want to carry a sat phone. We want it ot be able to :

1 - have a dedicated SOS/emergency button
2- The ability to download grib files
3- e-mail (I know this will be limited in speed)

I've surfed around and there seem to be a multitude of phone plans - all (as far as I can tell) require yo to buy a fixed number of minutes that then seem to expire on a monthly or semi-annual basis.

SO in addition to the phone - where to I buy a phone plan where the minutes don't expire.

We won't be going into the polar regions, but will be in the pacific and europe os it needs to have global capability

Thanks for the help
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Old 09-09-2015, 08:20   #2
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Re: Immarsat 2 or Iridium

I found a great deal on an Iridium setup on ebay. Almost unused and with all the accessories. Worth taking a look there whichever you decide to go with.
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Old 09-09-2015, 08:56   #3
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Re: Immarsat 2 or Iridium

Quote:
where to I buy a phone plan where the minutes don't expire
I am using Iridium and to my knowledge there are no (Prepaid) plans where the minutes will not expire.

A good overview is here: Iridium Airtime Plans and Prepaid Cards

Regards,

Carsten
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Old 09-09-2015, 09:09   #4
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Re: Immarsat 2 or Iridium

Check out the Predict Wind deal. Does not include SOS button, but all else that you asked for, with unlimited data. Hard to beat.

http://www.predictwind.com/iridium-go/


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Old 09-09-2015, 09:16   #5
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Re: Immarsat 2 or Iridium

Quote:
with unlimited data. Hard to beat
Seems you need at least the Iridium GO! Unlimited Plan for 'unlimited Data' @ $ 124,95 / month?

Activation Fee: $50
Monthly Charge: $124.95
Bundled Voice Minutes: 150
Bundled Data Minutes: UNLIMITED
Inbound Voice Calls: FREE
Outbound Voice Calls to Land Line, Cellular & Voice Mail (Per Minute): $1.09
Data Calls (Per Minute): UNLIMITED
Inbound SMS: FREE
Outbound SMS (Per Message): FREE
Outbound Voice Calls to other Iridium Phones (Per Minute): $0.65
Outbound Voice Calls to other Satellite Phones (Per Minute): $10.49

@Carsten: If you have a shortwave transceiver with Pactor modem onboard you might need less data via sat than you think.

Regards,

Carsten
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Old 09-09-2015, 12:40   #6
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Re: Immarsat 2 or Iridium

carstenb,
The short answer is Iridium...
Quote:
Originally Posted by carstenb View Post
We are astarting a circumnavigation next spring and in addtion to our SSB [assume this is a MF/HF-DSC-SSB Radiotelephone ??], we want to carry a sat phone. We want it ot be able to :

1 - have a dedicated SOS/emergency button
2- The ability to download grib files
3- e-mail (I know this will be limited in speed)

I've surfed around and there seem to be a multitude of phone plans - all (as far as I can tell) require yo to buy a fixed number of minutes that then seem to expire on a monthly or semi-annual basis.

SO in addition to the phone - where to I buy a phone plan where the minutes don't expire.

We won't be going into the polar regions, but will be in the pacific and europe os it needs to have global capability
The long answer is:

Iridium and a "post-paid plan"....
https://www.iridium.com/products/Iri...d-Calling.aspx
Quote:
Iridium postpaid plans offer the convenience of Iridiumís reliable, everywhere voice and data communications without the need to be concerned about a prepaid account expiring or having a low balance.

Now, to be honest with you....depending on how much airtime you use, the pre-paid plans will probably do well for you....but you asked specifically for plans where the "minutes do not expire", so there you go!


And, FYI....I've been using a CHEAP post-paid cellular phone/data plan now for many years....and most of my friend's monthly wireless bills are bigger than mine for the whole year!!



I hope this helps...

Fair winds..

John
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Old 09-09-2015, 13:45   #7
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Re: Immarsat 2 or Iridium

We have just completed a 3 month, 10 600 nm trip mostly off shore. We took the Iriduim go package and the Predict wind Pro. There is lots of info on their site, but I found the following:
- The connection is so slow, if you are not on an unlimited package you are going to get murdered with bills. We had 4 crew email accounts, messaging, weather via the Predeict wind routing and gribb files. Our internet connection was probably 2 hours per day.
- If I was coastal I would definitely just use a terrestrial 3 g.
- The internet "surfing" is completely oversold and useless. 17 min for a mobi page, 60 min for a regular site, by then you are logged off anyway. It is impossible to use. Do not purchase this if this is what you are after.
- If you are using the included / free applications "mail & web" the "attachments" bragged about are also completely oversold. To try get excel, pdf, or word to transfer is not possible. It only does photo's. However, if you purchase a separate mail system for about $ 99/year you can do mail with attachments on a PC/mac mail account. For interest, it just put a forward on my regular account and carried on working with out an out of office message. It worked like a charm.
- Be warned, have more than one device talking to the Iriduim go. I had the displeasure of my Iphone being completely useless mid ocean due to an app store log in issue. With out an internet connection to log the phone on it was unusable. I fortunately had the ipad and mac as well that were fine. Device redundancy is strongly recommended.
If i was to do the same trip again, in spite of the above limitations and a marketing department that is way ahead of the product ability, I would definitely use the Iridium Go again. They now included a heap of talk time as well in the monthly unlimited package.
Finally, it has both the emergency button and web based tracking for those at home, which is really great.
Good luck
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Old 09-09-2015, 20:29   #8
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Re: Immarsat 2 or Iridium

Don't know anything about the GO! Are you using your Iphone to go across the Go! for voice communications? I thought the Go! was strictly data

Why not Immarsat's phone?
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Old 09-09-2015, 20:55   #9
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Re: Immarsat 2 or Iridium

Quote:
Originally Posted by carstenb View Post
Don't know anything about the GO! Are you using your Iphone to go across the Go! for voice communications? I thought the Go! was strictly data

Why not Immarsat's phone?

We have an Inmarsat Isatphone pro and have had difficulty getting a signal on occasion and sometimes trouble sending even simple sms texts in/out offshore. I've downloaded a few gribs with it, and while I was eventually successful, it took a several minutes of data and repeated tries to get a 50kb file.

I can't imagine if we had to try using it while sitting in our liferaft.

When we purchased the phone in 2011 or 12, inmarsat's prepaid plan was much cheaper than Iridium (about a third the cost). Low data charge, longer expiration period and free text lead us down this path. But now, just like the cellular companies, rates have gone way up to iridium prices and we should have purchased one of those instead.

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Old 09-09-2015, 21:16   #10
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Re: Immarsat 2 or Iridium

Well, since I haven't looked in awhile, I jumped on ebay just to checkout the phones and prepaid cost. You can get 100 units for Isatphone with a 180 expiration date for just over $100 bucks. 100 units is actually only 77 minutes of talk time (cheap bastards).

Iridium doesn't seem to offer anything close.... no love if you're a lower end user like us. They do have a 200 minute/180 days too, but that's $525 or a 300 minute/1yr for $625.

I guess an external antenna dock for our isatphone is looking better!

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Old 09-09-2015, 22:00   #11
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Re: Immarsat 2 or Iridium

Prior to our leaving California almost 5 years ago, we purchased an Iridium 9555. We had to send it in for repairs twice and when it came back from the shop still not functioning, we purchased the Iridium Go, which has worked flawlessly.

We only use the Go when offshore and only then for email and GRIBS. Since we've had a Sailmail account for many years, we continue to use that.

After analyzing the costs, we elected to use the annual pre-pay, which is very expensive but less expensive than the monthly post-pay plan and we've never gone over the allotted amount, despite connecting for emails at least twice a day when underway.

Regardless, from a functional perspective, the Iridium Go has always performed as advertised.

Fair winds and calm seas.
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Old 09-09-2015, 22:17   #12
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Re: Immarsat 2 or Iridium

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Originally Posted by nhschneider View Post
we purchased an Iridium 9555.
Purchased new?
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Old 10-09-2015, 00:39   #13
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Re: Immarsat 2 or Iridium

To a question a few posts up.....The Go does voice perfectly, you just need to have your connecting device on with the the application open. Out bound is easy. In bound you need to let people know to keep calling so that you can turn your phone on, log into the app and take the call. Bit of a bother, but okay once all users understand the limitation. The Go base station rings so you know a call is coming. We took a small solar panel with the appropriate connections along with device dry bags just incase we had to use in the life raft. The Go also has a built in gps that displays the position on the screen, so you get a and extra bit of gps redundancy too. As far as off shore comms go. To us it seemed like the best deal if you need to do a bit of work.
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Old 10-09-2015, 08:36   #14
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Re: Immarsat 2 or Iridium

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Purchased new?
Yes, purchased new along with a very expensive docking station. If someone's interested, I'll make them a hell of a deal but it doesn't work.
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Old 10-09-2015, 09:39   #15
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Re: Immarsat 2 or Iridium

carstenb, et al,
Please understand that I'm NOT anti-satellite....(I've made my living in sat comm industry for many years....and was an original alpha/beta tester of Iridium, about 20 years ago!!)
But, the way some of this is "marketed" is misleading to so many that are "sold" that they "must have this, or that"...

So, with that in mind, I'd like to highlight two posts here that show real-world results of other cruisers, with two different "sat phone" systems (Iridium and IMARSAT), having the exact same issue...
And, that issue is:

The "sat phone" data connection is VERY SLOW!! (as I have been saying for many years!)
Yes, they DO work....but, they are VERY SLOW!!!
(actual data thru-put is approx. 2400 baud.....that's 2.4kb...or 0.0024mb.....compared to the connection I'm on here, which is 12mb....)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Indigo1 View Post
We have just completed a 3 month, 10 600 nm trip mostly off shore. We took the Iriduim go package and the Predict wind Pro. There is lots of info on their site, but I found the following:
- The connection is so slow, if you are not on an unlimited package you are going to get murdered with bills.

- The internet "surfing" is completely oversold and useless. 17 min for a mobi page, 60 min for a regular site, by then you are logged off anyway. It is impossible to use. Do not purchase this if this is what you are after.

- Be warned, have more than one device talking to the Iriduim go. I had the displeasure of my Iphone being completely useless mid ocean due to an app store log in issue. With out an internet connection to log the phone on it was unusable. I fortunately had the ipad and mac as well that were fine. Device redundancy is strongly recommended.
Quote:
Originally Posted by funjohnson View Post
We have an Inmarsat Isatphone pro and have had difficulty getting a signal on occasion and sometimes trouble sending even simple sms texts in/out offshore. I've downloaded a few gribs with it, and while I was eventually successful, it took a several minutes of data and repeated tries to get a 50kb file.

I can't imagine if we had to try using it while sitting in our liferaft.
As I wrote above, I'm not anti-satellite at all!!
But, just like automobiles, speed costs money!!!
The faster you want to go, the more it costs!!
And, not just "airtime" costs, but equipment costs, and deck space costs, electrical power costs, etc....



And, finally.....as much as I love sat comm and INMARSAT is a great company....the iSatPhone isn't well suited to sailors / cruisers....too much effort/difficulty getting and using a signal from the geostationary satellites using an handheld phone....(while this could be made better, here again...it costs!!)


Gotta' go

John
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