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Old 13-01-2012, 09:56   #1
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Iridium Incoming Call Question

Ok so I m probably better off asking the folks who sell the Iridium minutes but Im looking here:

Iridium Airtime Rates - Airtime

and one of the things Im seeing is "Free Incoming calls". My question is could I set up an Iridium Sat phone with a phone number that has a 410 area code (Maryland, Annapolis specifically) so that if someone called my sat phone from Annapolis it would be a local call for them and a free call for me? If not what should the person calling my sat phone expect to pay for the call?

My wife has a health coaching business that requires a voice connection and we are exploring ways to make the calls affordable while cruising.
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Old 13-01-2012, 11:11   #2
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Re: Iridium Incoming call question

This is my understanding of the options:

a) Caller direct dials to the Iridium country code. Their carrier usually charges them an obscene ($10/minute) rate.

b) Caller uses a prepaid international calling card with a good Iridium rate. Last time I checked these were more reasonable but still way expensive (~$3/minute). These are marketed to relatives of people who work on merchant ships.

c) Two stage dialing. Caller dials an Arizona number, then when the British lady talks, dials your Iridium number. Charges are reversed to you (the Iridium account holder)

d) 800 number. You pay for an 800 number to be setup (only available with some Iridium resellers). Charges are reversed to you. There is a small monthly fee for this.

I ran my business from the Sea of Cortez for a little while, and this was my system:
- 800 number with a virtual PBX service. This is the number I gave people.
- I set the "No Answer" option to forward to a voicemail transcription service, configured that to email the transcriptions to the boat and send a text to the Iridium phone (free).
- When in port, I forwarded the virtual PBX to either a Skype Incoming number or a cell phone that was roaming (at the time Verizon had a "North America" plan which gave me a good roaming rate)
- When someplace rural, I forwarded the virtual PBX to an Iridium 800 number.

I think these days Google Voice may handle forwarding and transcription in one service.
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Old 13-01-2012, 11:22   #3
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Re: Iridium Incoming call question

Quote:
Originally Posted by msponer View Post
This is my understanding of the options:

a) Caller direct dials to the Iridium country code. Their carrier usually charges them an obscene ($10/minute) rate.

b) Caller uses a prepaid international calling card with a good Iridium rate. Last time I checked these were more reasonable but still way expensive (~$3/minute). These are marketed to relatives of people who work on merchant ships.

c) Two stage dialing. Caller dials an Arizona number, then when the British lady talks, dials your Iridium number. Charges are reversed to you (the Iridium account holder)

d) 800 number. You pay for an 800 number to be setup (only available with some Iridium resellers). Charges are reversed to you.
Under scenario A you say caller direct dials to the iriduim county code. Can you explain this a little more? Wouldnt the country code in my case be the US?

So it sounds like in cases A and B the cost of the incoming call would be zero to me but very expensive for the caller yes?

In cases C and D the caller would not pay for the call but the costs would be high for me?

Thanks,
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Old 13-01-2012, 11:55   #4
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Re: Iridium Incoming call question

Iridium and Inmarsat phones are their own "country". The country code I had was 8816. You can Google this to see what it would cost someone to call it directly-- it's obscene.

Yes, with C and D you would pay your normal airtime rate to receive the call. I bought prepaid blocks of 500 minutes for something like $1.29/minute from Mackay.

This is usually less expensive than normal cell phone roaming (!), though I did discover a good roaming plan that worked for the specific area I was in. For that, I ran a cellular repeater antenna up to the top of the mast, and was able to get a good signal as long as I was within sight of a town.

But... In the context of running a business, especially these days when people are doing so much by email, it didn't turn out to be very expensive. Even a thirty minute call, every once in a while, is not THAT expensive in the context of continuing to make money. But I guess it depends on what the line of work is, how much you end up talking on the phone.

One other note-- I've also cruised on a boat with Inmarsat Fleet system, and do not feel they are as good at voice as Iridium. At least for me, Inmarsat has a longer delay, which is just long enough to make conversations a bit awkward. I could learn to change my conversational style to work around it, but there was a lot of pauses and then both people saying the same thing at once and then saying sorry you go and then the other person say sorry no what were you going to say? And etc.
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Old 13-01-2012, 12:09   #5
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Re: Iridium Incoming call question

Quote:
Originally Posted by msponer View Post
Iridium and Inmarsat phones are their own "country". The country code I had was 8816. You can Google this to see what it would cost someone to call it directly-- it's obscene.

Yes, with C and D you would pay your normal airtime rate to receive the call. I bought prepaid blocks of 500 minutes for something like $1.29/minute from Mackay.

This is usually less expensive than normal cell phone roaming (!), though I did discover a good roaming plan that worked for the specific area I was in. For that, I ran a cellular repeater antenna up to the top of the mast, and was able to get a good signal as long as I was within sight of a town.

But... In the context of running a business, especially these days when people are doing so much by email, it didn't turn out to be very expensive. Even a thirty minute call, every once in a while, is not THAT expensive in the context of continuing to make money. But I guess it depends on what the line of work is, how much you end up talking on the phone.

One other note-- I've also cruised on a boat with Inmarsat Fleet system, and do not feel they are as good at voice as Iridium. At least for me, Inmarsat has a longer delay, which is just long enough to make conversations a bit awkward. I could learn to change my conversational style to work around it, but there was a lot of pauses and then both people saying the same thing at once and then saying sorry you go and then the other person say sorry no what were you going to say? And etc.

Ahh makes sense now. Thanks a lot.

My wifes business does require a fair bit of voice time but we are hoping to use the sat phone as a last resort device and rely a bit more on skype when we can get decent wifi and possibly local sim cards/phones. I modeled her business using 100% sat phone time and it still made sense so hopefully we wont have to rely on the sat phone and margins will be even better.

She is a health coach which requires here to provide counseling sessions with her clients, much of which can be done via emial.

Thanks again for your help here this has been very informative.
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