Originally Posted by sbuckingham
I've been involved in maritime satellite communications
manufacturing and service for close to 20 years and recently have started my own business hopping to provide cuisers a good, reliable, affordable option for satellite communications
. I'm very interested in getting your feedback as well as answer any questions you might have. We have handhelds, with optional docking
stations with outside antennas, that have both regional and global coverage as well as inexpensive fixed installed equipment that doesn't have the portability of the handheld but could be more reliable and less expensive then the handheld with docking station.
The airtime service is quite confusing: per month plans that are quite expensive; 1 year or multiple year contracts that have high monthly fees and lower per minute rates, but commited to monthly fees; Prepaid SIM cards.
Let me know your thoughts, experience, and what you'd like to see.
It's nice to have a chance to give feedback directly to someone in the industry.
I inherited a fixed-mount Globalstar phone
from the PO of my boat, an obviously expensive installation
. I have never activated it because, frankly, who needs a sat phone
which works just once in a while?
Besides that, the pricing plans for sat phones are, it seems to me, not beneficial to most cruisers. It is impossible to forecast
how many minutes you will use, and your expensive minutes are ruthlessly expired. It's kind of stupid, from my point of view, which is why I have not seriously considered buying
a different sat phone.
The very first pricing plan which actually makes sense for most cruisers is the one used for the Yellow Brick device, a text-only device which runs on the Irridium system. Now this is really good -- you do pay a monthly fee, but it is modest (only about $12 a month!), and you can switch it on and off at will and with no penalty, activation, or deactivation fee
. You pay an entirely reasonable charge to send position reports, or send or receive SMS messages directly to mobile phones (or email
. If you buy a big enough bundle, the "units" cost only $0.12 each
. And best of all, they NEVER expire as long as you activate your phone at least once a year!!
Now that's the way all satellite communications should be! Your industry would triple its subscriber base if you would go to a system like that. Is it such a hard concept
to design your pricing to maximize the subscriber base and total number of minutes used, rather than trying to milk to death a small number of subscribers? The mobile telephone industry figured that out decades ago!
I'll buy a sat phone when there are plans like that. Meanwhile, I will be using SSB
when I'm offshore
; mobile telephone networks when I'm coastwise. Text comms are probably equally useful to me as voice; so I might very well buy one of those Yellow Brick thingies before my summer cruise