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Old 14-12-2011, 02:59   #1
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Inmarsat - Receiving Data and Plan Costs

Hey guys. Im just looking at getting a sat phone. I have read a few threads here and decided on a Inmarsat. How much does the plan cost for these? Do I need other equipment so I can download data and weather files?

Dennis.
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Old 14-12-2011, 08:40   #2
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Re: Inmarsat. Receiving data and plan costs?

The phone has a USB connection, all you need is a Data enabled SIM card, a data plan and away you go. You do also really need to use a services of something like xGate to make it work smoothly. 2400bps is the typical throughput, but you can use compression software like xGate to squeeze the best of out that throughput

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Old 15-12-2011, 04:52   #3
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Re: Inmarsat. Receiving data and plan costs?

Cool, so as for as hardware is concerned all I need is the phone and a laptop. Is xgate free or cheap? How much will the simcard and data/voice plans usually cost?
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Old 15-12-2011, 05:55   #4
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Re: Inmarsat. Receiving data and plan costs?

A word of caution on the ISATPhone According to the glossy, the IsatPhone Pro is the latest satellite phone available from Inmarsat and offers voice, data, SMS and GPS services. However, when you look into the manual it states Your phone can be used as a modem to send and receive low rate data. Typical low rate data applications include plain text email and small file attachments.
Thus if you are looking at downloading gribs or other more data intensive, you are probably better of going to Inmarsat Fleet broadband, or Iridium Openport.

Also The ISATPhone is cheaper to purchase than the Iridium phone, but running costs appear to be higher.
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Old 15-12-2011, 07:32   #5
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Re: Inmarsat. Receiving data and plan costs?

The least expensive part of this is buying the software and the hardware. Look at the plans, most have a minimum of $500 per year. If you are going to be primarily costal then an aircard will serve you much better. SAT phones are very slow for data and email but work well almost anywhere. If voice is not a primary need look to SSB. I have had Iridium for 12 years, primarily as an offshore backup. I do a fair amount of solo 100+ miles out and it keeps my wife somewhat at ease when I check in every night. Another thing is the Satellite connection is good for about 6 minutes and the handoff doesn't always work so you get dropped calls. I just figure that $1.50 a day isn't too much to keep my wife from calling the Coast Guard.
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Old 16-12-2011, 01:11   #6
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Re: Inmarsat. Receiving data and plan costs?

The reason I ask is because I will be sailing across the Pacific in Feb 2012 so I need some form of long distance communication. I have a Sony ICF-SW7600GR AM/FM Shortwave World Band Receiver which I plan to hook up to my laptop for weather files. But it would be good to have another device I can get weather data from. But if its going to be too expensive just being able to talk to someone will be great.

There is a lot of conflicting info on this site. Other people were saying the Inmarsat costs half to buy and operate.
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Old 16-12-2011, 03:22   #7
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Re: Inmarsat. Receiving data and plan costs?

Quote:
Originally Posted by dennisail View Post
There is a lot of conflicting info on this site. Other people were saying the Inmarsat costs half to buy and operate.
It is difficult to make a cost comparison without some form of decision on what you want to use it for, how much to download, etc etc etc. There are just so many different options.

One place to get a reasonable comparison, and where they show the different costs is Inmarsat IsatPhone Pro

They also do the various other equipments as well.
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Old 16-12-2011, 05:43   #8
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Re: Inmarsat. Receiving data and plan costs?

I have had Iridium for about 12 years and am very happy with it. Email works very well with the compression program provided by the company that I buy air time from. I use prepaid air time and buy the minimum 500 min each year. Internet and pictures are avoided at all cost because they will suck up your card in no time. I file a sail plan with my family and check in by voice every day which keeps everyone happy. I use it to call ahead to marinas for reservations, I tend to be 50 to 100 mi off shore when I travel up and down the east coast and vhf and cell phones only work close in. You can usually find used equipment from a SAT Company that does rentals. I have a lot invested in epirbs, liferaft, and other safety equipment that I hope I never need but my SAT phone and my AIS are the most used and most important, except maybe the Monitor windvane.
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Old 16-12-2011, 15:51   #9
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Re: Inmarsat. Receiving data and plan costs?

From a pricing point of view the clear winner is isatphone

Firstly new Inmarsat Isatphone pro's are available for around $550, whereas the Iridium 955 is still at $950-$1000

Secondly taking a look at standard post paid plans

Inmarsat isatphone pro airtime, $15 per month , 0.99 per minute voice call
Iridium $40 per month , $1.39 per voice minute
( all these are base plans with no bundled minutes).

The other clear advantage is if you just go prepaid voucher, isat has 2 year validity on small value minute cards ( only 15 miles outside US land) whereas iridiums small value minute cards have only one to two months validity.

Both have the same data rates ie 2400 bps, which is fine for GRIBS, email ( non-HTML) etc, forget web browsing.

I have an iridium setup , but I use it only occasionally and I really wish I could switch to isatphone , with the lower monthly standby charge.

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Old 16-12-2011, 16:37   #10
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Re: Inmarsat. Receiving data and plan costs?

You can download grib data using the most basic iSat / laptop set-up. Another issue is the antenna you need for that.

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Old 16-12-2011, 17:10   #11
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Re: Inmarsat. Receiving data and plan costs?

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Originally Posted by barnakiel View Post
You can download grib data using the most basic iSat / laptop set-up. Another issue is the antenna you need for that.

b.
The standard on-phone antenna may or may not work inside the boat. If you can receive voice you can receive data ( more or less). In my case I have a simple "puck" antenna that I can put above the companion way hatch and that works fine. Though I notice recently that my Iridium seems to better inside newer GRP boats ( muct be thinner GRP!!).

I can offer no direct experience of Isatphone, but Iridium does suffer from call drop, especially during satellite handover at times, this can mean a redial, so for data calls, you need a "pick up where you left off" data download protocol.

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Old 16-12-2011, 17:53   #12
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Re: Inmarsat. Receiving data and plan costs?

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The standard on-phone antenna may or may not work inside the boat.(...) In my case I have a simple "puck" antenna that I can put above the companion way hatch and that works fine. (...) my Iridium.
I remember not so long ago such a puck did not exist for iSat, hence my comment.

Reception (data) good outside but poor in the dog house. Again, iSat.

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Old 16-12-2011, 18:05   #13
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Re: Inmarsat. Receiving data and plan costs?

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Originally Posted by barnakiel View Post
I remember not so long ago such a puck did not exist for iSat, hence my comment.

Reception (data) good outside but poor in the dog house. Again, iSat.

b.
I believe thats still the case, for any external antenna for the isatphone, I believe you need the dock, which is another $550, plus an antenna.

IN reality if you want to use the Isaphone for data, you need a dock and an external antenna as the Isatphone needs for precise antenna positioning during initial sat location, once locked it can move around more.

The base rate for isatphone has been tested at around 1.7-1.9 kpbs a bit slower then iridium , but both are as slow as old boots anyway.



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Old 16-12-2011, 19:15   #14
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Re: Inmarsat. Receiving data and plan costs?

External antenna is almost a must, all sat phones need a clear view of the sky unlike what you see in the movies and TV. You don't need a docking station, I have an external antenna mounted on the stern rail and a coax back to the nav station. The puck antenna for autos also works, I used it for several years but the permanent mount is more convenient.
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Old 19-12-2011, 04:20   #15
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Re: Inmarsat. Receiving data and plan costs?

Thanks guys.

Any confirmation if the isatphone pro will receive weather files, or if I can can an antenna without spending $550 on a dock?

Either way I think I will be getting it. $15 a month sounds and $550 for the phone seems affordable. Considering they cost like $750 in AU I might even do OK when I sell it when I get home.
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