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Old 29-09-2012, 23:21   #1
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Inmarsat IsatphonePro data capability

Hi, has anyone got experience of the new data capability of the Isatphone Pro phone? I heard that this was launched early in 2012.

I am thinking of changing from Iridium, but can't get any first hand accounts of how the data capability compares. They claim 20kbps. What kind of hardware and drivers are needed to connect the pc? Is it easy to install?

Any help would be appreciated.
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Old 30-09-2012, 00:52   #2
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Reportedly it's slightly slower then iridium. Around 1800 baud.


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Old 02-10-2012, 09:10   #3
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Re: Inmarsat IsatphonePro data capability

you will find a very nice review here.
Panbo: The Marine Electronics Weblog: Beam Oceana 800, and weather via sat phone

this was for an oceana800 which is the fixed phone version of the isatphone. It uses the same internal technology so your performance will be the same.

note that the download speed of the phone is about 2000 baud and the upload speed is between 1200-1600 baud. However, the latency on the link is 5 seconds. So... you must really reduce all extraneous data with a firewall to make it work in addition to using optimization software.

You should seriously consider something like this
Satellite Phone Data Optimizer, Router and Firewall | GMN

you might also watch the isatphone data videos here
Videos and Audios: Satellite Communication Solutions. GMN

Finally, note that the inmarsat drivers only work with windows and will not work out of the box. The settings must be changed from their default to work on windows. Also, note that win7 users have complained about the drivers. So.. using something like the Optimizer will eliminate this problem.

--luis
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Old 30-01-2013, 11:02   #4
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Re: Inmarsat IsatphonePro data capability

I know this is an old thread but we're taking the leap and getting a SAT phone as we're headed across the pond (Pacific Puddle Jump) from Mexico where we've been for 16 months - Just wanted to say thank you to Luis for those links - super helpful as I'm a bit overwhelmed with all the details.

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Old 30-01-2013, 11:35   #5
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Re: Inmarsat IsatphonePro data capability

Let me see if i can simplify this some...

if your primary interested in voice then isatphone is a good solution. If you will be using your satellite phone for downloading email and weather with some voice then iridium is better. In both cases we highly recommend an external antenna. An Optimizer will make life a lot simpler for you while making sure that your link runs at its fullest capacity. You will also be able to use your mobile devices to your email and weather when using them in conjunction with an optimizer.

You will find full descriptions of all the products listed above on our website. You will also find instructional videos there which will help you decide which system is best for you.

take care.

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Old 07-04-2013, 12:37   #6
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Luis, is there a monthly charge for the optimizer when using with Iridium, or does one just pay for the box?
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Old 07-04-2013, 18:08   #7
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Re: Inmarsat IsatphonePro data capability

It depends on who your purchase the Optimizer from. Some of our dealers provide email for free with the Optimizer if you purchase airtime from them (GMPCS, SatPhoneStore, ART) others don't care who you purchase airtime from but do charge for the XGate email service (Ocens, GMN, SeaTech, for example).

The Optimizer does require XGate (or one of its branded versions) to work.

take care.

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Old 08-04-2013, 04:07   #8
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Luis.

thanks.

Ok, so the monthly fee is the $240/year for XGate. There's no further fee for the optimizer, other than the cost of the box. Right? (Sorry to be daft, but all the costs and fees of going satphone are complicated—nearly as complicated as an HF install!)

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Old 08-04-2013, 04:16   #9
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Re: Inmarsat IsatphonePro data capability

If data is an important part of your satellite needs, have a good look at the Iridium Pilot. More expensive upfront, but cheaper running costs.

I am fitting one!
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Old 08-04-2013, 09:04   #10
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Re: Inmarsat IsatphonePro data capability

There are no other fees for the optimizer other than the XGate subscription. So you purchase the optimizer once and then you subscribe to xgate or one of its branded versions. XGate is $240 per year.

The point about the Pilot is a very good one. A new iridium installation which includes handset, docking station, external antenna, coax, and optimizer runs about ~$3000. An iridium pilot costs about ~$5k. So the initial cost is about $1500 more. However, the data speeds start at 32Kbps (10 times faster than regular iridium) and can be as fast as 128Kbps. But the big news is that a mbyte of data over iridium costs over $100 at current rates. Actually the cost is about $150 per Mbyte if you take into account the connection setup time which costs one billing increment. At 32Kbps a mbyte of data for Pilot is $10. That is more than 10x less expensive for data. Also there are no connection fees. You only pay for the data you use.

Also... the retail price for a prepaid minute of voice over pilot is $0.62. that is more than 2x cheaper than a regular iridium minute which currently sells for about $1.50.

With the pilot you can have up to 3 simultaneous voice calls at the same time you ave data access.

The unit runs on 12V which means that it can be plumbed into the house battery.

Having said all that you sill want an Optimizer. The Pilot is an "always on" system so you want a very good firewall to block out all traffic except email and web. Imagine what might happen if you windows machine does an automatic update (typically about 150mbytes) at $10 per mbyte... that is a $1500 unexpected bill. The Optimizer with XGate/Xweb prevents this from happening.

Although Xweb is not very interesting to regular iridium customers the 3x improvement in speed and decrease in data is a big win for pilot users. With xweb it is practical to browse the internet at 32kbps. Your average effective cost per mbyte goes to about $3 and your speed is comparable to dialup.

BTW... GMN is offering a Blue Water special for Pilot starting this month. for $4600 you get
1. pilot
2. 2 phones
3. 1000 minute of free voice minutes
4. one year of xgate/web
5. an optimizer.

please contact GMN should you want more details on this.

take care.

--luis
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Old 08-04-2013, 10:08   #11
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Re: Inmarsat IsatphonePro data capability

There are no other fees for the optimizer other than the XGate subscription. So you purchase the optimizer once and then you subscribe to xgate or one of its branded versions. XGate is $240 per year.

The point about the Pilot is a very good one. A new iridium installation which includes handset, docking station, external antenna, coax, and optimizer runs about ~$3000. An iridium pilot costs about ~$5k. So the initial cost is about $1500 more. However, the data speeds start at 32Kbps (10 times faster than regular iridium) and can be as fast as 128Kbps. But the big news is that a mbyte of data over iridium costs over $100 at current rates. Actually the cost is about $150 per Mbyte if you take into account the connection setup time which costs one billing increment. At 32Kbps a mbyte of data for Pilot is $10. That is more than 10x less expensive for data. Also there are no connection fees. You only pay for the data you use.

Also... the retail price for a prepaid minute of voice over pilot is $0.62. that is more than 2x cheaper than a regular iridium minute which currently sells for about $1.50.

With the pilot you can have up to 3 simultaneous voice calls at the same time you ave data access.

The unit runs on 12V which means that it can be plumbed into the house battery.

Having said all that you sill want an Optimizer. The Pilot is an "always on" system so you want a very good firewall to block out all traffic except email and web. Imagine what might happen if you windows machine does an automatic update (typically about 150mbytes) at $10 per mbyte... that is a $1500 unexpected bill. The Optimizer with XGate/Xweb prevents this from happening.

Although Xweb is not very interesting to regular iridium customers the 3x improvement in speed and decrease in data is a big win for pilot users. With xweb it is practical to browse the internet at 32kbps. Your average effective cost per mbyte goes to about $3 and your speed is comparable to dialup.

BTW... GMN is offering a Blue Water special for Pilot starting this month. for $4600 you get
1. pilot
2. 2 phones
3. 1000 minute of free voice minutes
4. one year of xgate/web
5. an optimizer.

please contact GMN should you want more details on this.

take care.

--luis
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Old 08-04-2013, 11:43   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Talbot View Post
If data is an important part of your satellite needs, have a good look at the Iridium Pilot. More expensive upfront, but cheaper running costs.

I am fitting one!
I would "love" to have a Pilot, but there is no way I could pony up the cost of using it. For those who can, it promises to be a great compromise. But it's overkill if all you can afford is basic email and weather. Data is very important when needed, but so is the budget.

In practice there are very few places where Internet data isn't available at anchor via WiFi or Cellular available at much lower cost. At sea is a different matter, satellite or HF are the only options. So it only gets used at sea or an occasional remote anchorage and we've found the IsatPhone Pro at $599 + $500 in airtime has kept us going in those situations for 2 full years. And we still have most of the second $250 airtime purchase available.

Just make sure you get a free satellite email service with your airtime purchase. That's all you can expect to accomplish with data on a handheld phone.

There is evidence on this forum in other posts that suggests Iridium is easier to use. We had none of the issues with drivers others have reported with IsatPhone on our Vista based laptop. But I am sure they do exist based on the reports. So be sure to get that worked out as part of any purchase agreement.

If your planning to be "out" for more than a couple of years, the cost advantage of the IsatPhone is less significant. And both are subject to pricing plan changes. We were able to get prepaid minutes good for 2 years, but those looked like they might be going away, perhaps already have.
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Old 08-04-2013, 19:13   #13
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Re: Inmarsat IsatphonePro data capability

Hello All,

Here is an interesting blog posting done by a cruiser that spent 2 years writing a book and educating his kids while at sea using an Iridium Pilot.

-----
New Article: How Iridium Pilot REALLY Worked for a Salty Live Aboard Cruiser

A new article has been posted on our blog by Kim Soltero:

How Iridium Pilot REALLY Worked for a Salty Live Aboard Cruiser
http://web.globalmarinenet.com/blog/...aboard-cruiser

------
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Old 09-04-2013, 00:40   #14
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Re: Inmarsat IsatphonePro data capability

Quote:
Originally Posted by lsoltero View Post
So you purchase the optimizer once and then you subscribe to xgate or one of its branded versions. XGate is $240 per year.

The point about the Pilot is a very good one. A new iridium installation which includes handset, docking station, external antenna, coax, and optimizer runs about ~$3000. An iridium pilot costs about ~$5k.
XGate, Optimizer and Iridium handheld/Iridium Pilot are all valid technical choices for a full-on satphone installation.

However, these are not the only choice for a satphone installation, and certainly not the cheapest.

Satcomms can be implemented for a range of budgets. At the low-end, it's possible to have a working basic data/voice satphone solution for <$1500, a lot less than the $3000 figure quoted here for a GMN docked-type installation.

For <$1500 you won't get the same bells & whistles (Optimizer wifi + internet firewall; fixed external antenna...), and it might be less seamless to install, but will get most people what they need: basic emails/GRIBs, plus voice.

So for those on a budget, the following can work:

(1) Isatphone-only: See ebaugh's post above. Costs about $600 + cost of prepaid airtime

Caveat 1: I have personally not had success with the Isatphone for email/data. The data config seems tricky, unless you use the right email software. Even the Isatphone reseller we contacted couldn't get it to connect on data mode (he even tried with two units!), and finally recommended purchasing XGate to manage the satphone data connection (I'm confident XGate would work).

So with the Isatphone option, consider that you may need to pay $240/year for Xgate or a similar Isatphone-friendly mail software (e.g. Mailasail, I believe) -- though apparently the email software may be free if you get the minutes from the right vendor.

Caveat 2: Isatphone doesn't have an external antenna (unless you invest >$800-1000 in a dock and antenna, which isn't worth it vs. Iridium), so keep in mind you'd have to use it from the cockpit, pointing in the right direction towards the Inmarsat geostationary satellite. This is far from the most practical solution, but remains possible if you're cost-conscious. A usb cable extension can also be run from the phone to the laptop so that the computer stays inside when the phone is in the cockpit.


(2) Iridium 9555 or Extreme: I have posted about this before, this is my personal preference, as well as that used by many others. Can be installed for <$1500 + cost of prepaid airtime.

(a) Basic install: Iridium handset only ($1100). This comes with a basic dock + hockey-puck external antenna. Can be used much like the Isatphone above.

(b) Semi-fixed installation: Add a basic semi-fixed external antenna for ~$300 (better than hockey puck). I personally used an aviation-type plexiglass-mounted antenna, which was fantastic (though you need a window with horizon view)

=> Total Iridium "semi-fixed" installation cost: <$1500 + airtime.
This won't be as pretty as a $3000 installation with a permanent external antenna and nice dock, but it would nonetheless work well on most boats, and avoid the limitations of the Isatphone.

My Iridium handset worked with the free satphone email program Vizada Skyfile Mail, which bypasses the need for paying email software like Xgate, Mailasail or Uuplus. That's a big cost saving over time and another reason I'm a fan of Iridium for data/email...
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Old 09-04-2013, 00:45   #15
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Re: Inmarsat IsatphonePro data capability

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Originally Posted by ebaugh View Post
we've found the IsatPhone Pro at $599 + $500 in airtime has kept us going in those situations for 2 full years. And we still have most of the second $250 airtime purchase available.

Just make sure you get a free satellite email service with your airtime purchase. That's all you can expect to accomplish with data on a handheld phone.
ebaugh, which free satphone email service have you been able to use with Isatphone? I'd like to try it with our Isatphone (which has never worked for email/data despite many efforts...)
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