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Old 26-12-2016, 17:18   #1
txg
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Inmarsat Isatphone satellite connection issues

Our initial plan was to buy an Inreach Explorer but now we have an Isatphone mostly because my mother who is a doctor told me about how important it is to be able to actually speak to a doctor in a medical emergency.

While this makes a lot of sense to me, we are having some issues with the phone to get a connection. It works most of the time, but it takes several minutes to get a connection and it most of the time it only connects when pointed up high above our bimini and in direction of the satellites.

Is this normal behaviour or do we do something wrong?

I can't imagine walking around the boat pointing up a device that is not saltwater-resistant when having a medical emergency in a severe storm, that just doesn't make any sense.

Another point is that it we planned to use the isatphone to get weather data (means gribs) offshore, which seems to be impossible with computers running windows 10. I spent days trying to get it to work, and it still does not.
Is someone on this forum able to use the data connection over the phone like this?
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Old 26-12-2016, 17:52   #2
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Re: Inmarsat Isatphone satellite connection issues

Our isatphone has to find the GPS satellites before looking for the communication SATs. This takes awhile.
If you are going to use the phone a lot, then mounting an external antenna makes sense. Then you can use the phone below decks.
You can buy a WiFi docking station for the phone and then connect over EiFi to avoid Win10, etc issues.
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Old 27-12-2016, 08:44   #3
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Re: Inmarsat Isatphone satellite connection issues

txg,
Please excuse my bluntness here....I mean no offense...
But, if this Isatphone is new and you can get a refund, you can actually equip with something that will work well for you...

1) So, first off, if the phone is new, take it back to the place where purchased as soon as possible, and request a refund...
Then, make an informed decision on what your communications needs are, and equip accordingly...

Understand that while INMARSAT is a great company, and they provide excellent services. what you wish to accomplish is very difficult to do via INMARSAT without spending quite a bit of money....and certainly not what the Isatphone is designed for...
(yes, you can make it work, but it isn't convenient, isn't easy-to-use, requires additional equipment, and costs more than you imagine...)



2) If you require a two-voice satellite phone, along with some low-speed data connectivity, then Iridium is THE phone and THE system to consider...
Yes, the phones are pricey....but they do work...
(but, there are other alternatives....depends on where you're sailing, what type of sailing, etc. etc. etc...)


3) What your communications needs are, will depend on where you are sailing, what time of year, what infrastructure there is to support you, etc...
Since you have not shared any of that info, I cannot give you any detailed recommendations....but...

But, generically, most sailors find terrestrial means of communications (VHF-Marine Radio, etc....and cellular and Wi-Fi when close to shore....and HF radio when offshore...) to be more than adequate for all their communications needs, whether for staying in touch with family/friends, business calls, e-mail, and of course safety / distress...
In some areas the shoreside infrastructure is slight and in other areas abundant....

Use of handheld sat phones on-board is problematic at best....and in distress situations, will usually exasperate the situation...

There's nothing wrong with wanting to speak to doctor in times of medical emergency, but there are other ways besides a sat phone to do so, and certainly better ways that using an Isatphone...




4) As to your specific questions.....here you go...
Quote:
Originally Posted by txg View Post
.....we are having some issues with the phone to get a connection. It works most of the time, but it takes several minutes to get a connection and it most of the time it only connects when pointed up high above our bimini and in direction of the satellites.

Is this normal behaviour or do we do something wrong?
Yes, this is normal for the Isatphone....it is what it is....





Quote:
Originally Posted by txg View Post
I can't imagine walking around the boat pointing up a device that is not saltwater-resistant when having a medical emergency in a severe storm, that just doesn't make any sense.
No, it doesn't make any sense...and this is not only something damned near impossible to do, and would most probably increase the nature of any emergency, it is not what the Isatphone is designed for....






Quote:
Originally Posted by txg View Post
Another point is that it we planned to use the isatphone to get weather data (means gribs) offshore, which seems to be impossible with computers running windows 10. I spent days trying to get it to work, and it still does not.
Is someone on this forum able to use the data connection over the phone like this?
While I haven't tried Win10 on an Isatphone, I believe there are ways to do it, and if you absolutely must use only this Isatphone, I think someone here will be able to help....BUT...
But, without an expensive external active antenna (mounted out in the clear), and a docking station below decks, trying to use the Isatphone for data downloads will be difficult at best, and at worst not effective at all...
And, here again, this is not what the Isatphone was designed to do...


If I knew more about your application, where you were sailing, what size and type of boat, how you're presently equipped, how much electrical/energy storage and generation (solar??) you have, what type of sailing (long downwind passages, versus shorter runs, versus long beats to windward, versus high-latitude/arctic explorations, versus island hopping in the Caribbean, etc. etc...), what time of year, what type of communications you desire, etc. etc., I can make some specific recommendations for you....
So, please let us know...


Until then, please have a look at these videos....where you can learn a good deal about obtaining weather forecasts when offshore, long-range communications when offshore, etc. etc...

Offshore Weather
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...zdjTJjHlChruyY


Maritime HF Communications
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...ZDo_Jk3NB_Bt1y


HF-DSC Communications
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...ga2zYuPozhUXZX


Offshore Sailing
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...KgTCj15iyl6qoY




Hope this helps...

Fair winds...

John
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Old 08-01-2017, 01:11   #4
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Re: Inmarsat Isatphone satellite connection issues

Which model phone do you have, the pro is ip6 and the drivers for pro2 are backwards compatible, I can download weather to my win 10 computer standing in the cockpit using 5 mtr cable.

Sent from my Fusion5_W104(32GB) using Cruisers Sailing Forum mobile app
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Old 11-01-2017, 22:53   #5
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Re: Inmarsat Isatphone satellite connection issues

I suppose this might depend where you are in the world. I cruise the Indian Ocean any my Inmarsat phone works fine. Messages , voice no problem.
The phone is waterproof if the cover is on the charge ports.

On a work point
For our remote medical service projects we swap between immarsat and iridium depending which phone is cheaper at the purchase time.

I have not used the downloading function as yet as I download a weeks gribs before l leave and it's worked well so far
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Old 28-03-2017, 13:38   #6
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Thumbs down Re: Inmarsat Isatphone satellite connection issues

I'll second that "get a refund" answer.
I ordered an active antenna, Isatdock, prepayed SIM and XGate software from Global Marine Networks for my Isatphone Pro.
It's been 2 weeks of almost daily emails and 8 international phone calls and the system is yet to receive a single byte of data.

Don't get into the trap of throwing money at the problem if you can avoid it.
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Old 06-04-2017, 10:29   #7
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Re: Inmarsat Isatphone satellite connection issues

On review my post looks like my contacts with GMN were ignored.
Nothing could be further from the truth, there were close to 100 emails backwards and forwards with even Luis, the owner manager stepping in to pressure Inmarsat.

The issue was eventually partially solved by re activating an old SIM card as "postpaid".
Who would believe a whole system can be made inoperable because of the way a SIM is activated?

I still believe an Iridium system is better for cruisers. Global Marine Networks also supply these systems by the way.
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Old 06-04-2017, 13:17   #8
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Re: Inmarsat Isatphone satellite connection issues

John,
No worries here, I know Luis and his crew (as well as those at OCENS, etc.) do a good job....but...

But, I do hope this thread (and others like it) serve as a caveat to many of my fellow sailors and cruisers that what these guys try to do is fill a niche in the market....
That's the "away from shore infrastructure, budget / low-cost data market", for those who refuse to learn about HF radio and how HF radio communications works (and of course, also for those looking for an even lower-cost system than that using a ~ $1900 USD PACTOR modem!, or much lower cost than a real sitcom terminal!!)

But, remember that INMARSAT did not design their system for this application, nor are their "phones" designed for this application, nor are my fellow sailors / cruisers their target clientele....
No matter what the marketing hype from the marine electronics dealers might say, the above is true....

Also, while I'm a big fan of Iridium....and the fact is that the Iridium system and their "phones" do work adequately for this niche of low-speed data comms, here again this application/desire for low-speed data comms / e-mail connectivity (when away from shoreside infrastructure) that many of my fellow sailors desire to pursue, is much better served with either:
a) a real sitcom terminal (not a "sat phone" / dock / data kit / ext ant, etc.), but a real sitcom terminal
-- or --
b) HF radio, PACTOR modem, and Sailmail, etc...
The problem however is that either of these approaches cost money!!
More money that trying to use a handheld "sat phone", etc...

So, the guys selling the sitcom terminals, PACTOR modems, etc. found a way to fill the niche of the market....that empty space between those that can afford a sitcom terminal or PACTOR modem (and/or are willing to understand HF communications)....and those like me (and many, many other cruisers) who find no need for data comms / e-mail connectivity when away from shoreside infrastructure, offshore on passage, in remote locales, etc...
{The facts are that no two-way data comms, nor e-mail connectivity, is necessary to obtain the best weather info/forecasts for offshore and hi-seas waters in almost all the cruising areas / routes worldwide....and once this fact is known, many scratch their heads and wonder why some spend so much time, effort, and dollars messing with handheld sat phones trying to get some raw computer model data, and/or just to send/receive some e-mails when at sea?? }



As for your innocent query??
"Who would believe a whole system can be made inoperable because of the way a SIM is activated?"
The answer is the crew of s/v Rebel Heart....and all of my fellow sailors who actually followed that saga through....
(And, of course, anyone who understands all the above facts, that these systems / phones were not designed to do the things that so many of my fellow sailors desire them to do....there are systems and communications devices that are designed for the applications they have, but they are not being educated to that, rather are being "sold" on a solution that is not really optimum...)
Quote:
Originally Posted by john murfet View Post
On review my post looks like my contacts with GMN were ignored.
Nothing could be further from the truth, there were close to 100 emails backwards and forwards with even Luis, the owner manager stepping in to pressure Inmarsat.

The issue was eventually partially solved by re activating an old SIM card as "postpaid".
Who would believe a whole system can be made inoperable because of the way a SIM is activated?

I still believe an Iridium system is better for cruisers. Global Marine Networks also supply these systems by the way.


Unfortunately, since txg (the original poster here) never returned here to fill us in on any of the missing details/info, we have no idea whether they were able to solve their issues, or whether they actually looked closely at their communications needs and found a more viable solution, etc...

But, fair winds to all..

John
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