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Old 17-09-2012, 06:26   #16
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Re: Satellite Communications

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Originally Posted by sbuckingham View Post
I haven't heard anything negative about the Pilot, but it is a new product using the existing OpenPort Network and due to the issues Iridium had with OpenPort I'd be hesitant to rely on the Pilot until it has proven itself. I was not able to find a Prepay plan for the Open Port, but I'll keep looking into it. Buck
We ended up buying a new OpenPort this year after a lot of research and talking to Iridium, dealers, and service centers. This is what we found:

- OpenPort was redesigned after those issues you mentioned. There haven't been service problems/returns since the redesign. However, because of the bad PR, OpenPort wouldn't sell. So they repackaged it, tweaked it a bit, and called it Pilot.

- OpenPort would not stop working in 2016 as it's using the same network/signals as Pilot. Pilot's range is very slightly more on paper, but that's the only difference.
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Old 17-09-2012, 06:45   #17
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Re: Satellite Communications

Thanks for the information. I'm glad to hear they have resolved their problems. Do you know if anyone is offerring Prepay packages for the OpenPort service for either the OpenPort or Pilot. Thanks Buck
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Old 20-09-2012, 10:14   #18
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Re: Satellite Communications

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Thanks for the information. I'm glad to hear they have resolved their problems. Do you know if anyone is offerring Prepay packages for the OpenPort service for either the OpenPort or Pilot. Thanks Buck
Not yet.
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Old 20-09-2012, 23:32   #19
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Re: Satellite Communications

OK here's a system recommendation I guess.

Last fall I installed a KVH V3 VSAT system on the boat. With that unit we were able to get internet access of around 1.5-2MBPS pretty much everywhere in the PACNW.

The hardware is not cheap, but the quality of the delivered service is fantastic. The rates seem reasonable at .47 per minute for voice and .99 per MB.

So the recommendation is to sell that unit. Once customers get over the sticker shock of the equipment, they are happy.
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Old 21-09-2012, 04:52   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ksanders
OK here's a system recommendation I guess.

Last fall I installed a KVH V3 VSAT system on the boat. With that unit we were able to get internet access of around 1.5-2MBPS pretty much everywhere in the PACNW.

The hardware is not cheap, but the quality of the delivered service is fantastic. The rates seem reasonable at .47 per minute for voice and .99 per MB.

So the recommendation is to sell that unit. Once customers get over the sticker shock of the equipment, they are happy.
I'm glad to here you are happy with the KVH V3. I was with KVH for 10 years and very involved in brining it to market. It is a great product if you need reliable Internet access. From my experience it's a bit overkill for the majority of the cruising market. The majority of the owners I've spoken to at shows are interested in something to keep in touch by voice or email when they're outside cellular range and not interested in Broadband Internet access. From my experience, which is somewhat limited, the majority of the Cruising Market is more interested in inexpensive reliable hardware without high monthly fees and not willing to pay the extra money for the Broadband Internet access. I attended three of the PassageMaker Trawler Fest last year with a live V3 and found very little interest.
I'd appreciate any feedback on my comments since I really want to get more familiar with this market. Thanks for your input. Buck
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Old 22-09-2012, 19:53   #21
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Re: Satellite Communications

99c per MB is very competitive. What I don't understand is, why KVH makes the hardware so expensive. I can hardly believe that the auto-focusing mechanism should cost that much.

Inmarsat / Iridium Pilot cost about $5000, MB approx $10

KVH V3 cost about $15000, MB approx $1

If KVH V3 would cost about $5000 - I guess a lot more ppl would go for it.
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Old 22-09-2012, 20:39   #22
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99c per MB is very competitive. What I don't understand is, why KVH makes the hardware so expensive. I can hardly believe that the auto-focusing mechanism should cost that much.

Inmarsat / Iridium Pilot cost about $5000, MB approx $10

KVH V3 cost about $15000, MB approx $1

If KVH V3 would cost about $5000 - I guess a lot more ppl would go for it.
The V3 hardware is quite expensive as well as the fact that KVH has leased satellite transponders as well as installing Earth Station all over the globe to provide their service coverage. The Spread Spectrum, which their partner ViaSat holds the patent on, gives KVH the capability to do with a 14" antenna what their competition needs a 24-36" antenna. It's very unlikely that the hardware price will come down because it is a very popular product around the world. No one can really compete with the data capability with the small antenna. Inmarsat can be competitive with their FBB if you'll commit to $5k/month.
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Old 25-09-2012, 12:06   #23
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I'll be at Trawler Fest in Baltimore this week if anyone wants to stop by Booth 20.
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Old 06-11-2012, 09:05   #24
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Re: Satellite Communications

I've spent the last 1 1/2 months looking into the options for the occasional user and it hasn't been easy. The following is what I've come up with and if interested you can see my pricing for the Inmarsat GSPS Service on my website, BuckCom.com. The main three options are Inmarsat (Global except N & S poles); Iridium (Global); Globalstar (Global, but only a few hundred miles off shore).
1. Globalstar plans on launching more satellites the end of this year and expects to offer full service early next year. My understanding is the newer satellites are working well and as long as you follow the chart showing when you can use it, it works very well. Once the last of the satellites are online you should have continuous coverage in the coverage area. Globalstar hardware is in the $500-$600 for handheld and $40/month for 40 minutes with no rollover or $480/year with 480 minutes to be used anytime in that 12 month period. Globalstar plans on upgrading service using the new satellites in 2014.
Inmarsat GSPS is the newest service with the hardware for the handset running $600-$700 and the docking stations complete with Handheld, antenna cables and antenna from $1,600 to $2,195. The airtime will be from less than $1.00/minute for heavy users with higher monthly fees to $1.25/minute for occasional users with lower monthly fees.
Iridium’s new Extreme handset is $1,600-$1,800 with the cost of the docks about the same as the Inmarsat GSPS docks. You can get the older model Iridium Handheld units new in the $1,200 range and used for under $600. The airtime for the occasional user will be in the $2-$3/minute range.
The Iridium and Inmarsat GSPS offer 2.4 kbps data connection which can be used for e-mail to keep in touch and request and receive regional weather maps. Globalstar offers a 9.6 kbps data link, which is not fast, but 4 times faster than the Iridium and Inmarsat handhelds.
Inmarsat, Iridium, and GlobalStar all offer more expensive terminal if you need more reliable high speed data connections.
Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.
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Old 20-05-2013, 16:18   #25
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Re: Satellite Communications

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[COLOR=black][FONT=Verdana]1. Globalstar plans on launching more satellites the end of this year and expects to offer full service early next year. My understanding is the newer satellites are working well and as long as you follow the chart showing when you can use it, it works very well. Once the last of the satellites are online you should have continuous coverage in the coverage area. Globalstar hardware is in the $500-$600 for handheld and $40/month for 40 minutes with no rollover or $480/year with 480 minutes to be used anytime in that 12 month period. Globalstar plans on upgrading service using the new satellites in 2014.
I've heard that Globalstar might offer either a pay-as-you-go or a pre-paid plan in the near future. Any truth to this ?

Sure makes that $99 1600 on e-bay look pretty good !

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Old 21-05-2013, 05:03   #26
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Dave,

I haven't heard about a prepay, but be cautious about purchasing a 1600, parts are becoming hard to find for the 1600.
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Old 21-05-2013, 05:28   #27
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Re: Satellite Communications

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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 addresses) . 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 and Pactor 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 this year.
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Old 21-05-2013, 05:41   #28
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Re: Satellite Communications

I see West Marine and others are taking preorders on a globalstar powered SPOTphone. In inexplicably, it does not appear to have a built in tracker . . ..
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Old 21-05-2013, 07:57   #29
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I see West Marine and others are taking preorders on a globalstar powered SPOTphone. In inexplicably, it does not appear to have a built in tracker . . ..
Globalstar is rebranding the Globalstar Phone GSP-1700 as the SPOTphone because of the success of their SPOT GPS Messenger and the questionable reputation of the Globalstar phones. The current SPOTphone and SPOT GPS Messenger are completely separate products.
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Old 21-05-2013, 08:07   #30
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Re: Satellite Communications

I've had Globalstar for a long time and since I stuck with them, have a very favorable plan. Their coverage is very good now as opposed to non-useable 5 years ago. In the very near future, they will be back to 100%. Check out their "call times tool" on their website and you will see very long times where coverage is available. All the satellites have now been successfully launched, and it is just a matter of time that they will be brought into service.
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