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Old 28-08-2014, 17:38   #1
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satellite phones

looking for communications while cruising eastern Carribean, 41' sailboat. Wife needs to talk to elderly parents. Also hoping for some internet and email. Anyone happy with their phone service, or very unhappy?
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Old 29-08-2014, 00:30   #2
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Re: satellite phones

I'm happy with my Iridium satphone. I use it for voice calls and email. You will not be able to use it for normal web-surfing -- it's just too slow.

I use email for getting weather information (GRIBs and WFAX images), and of course for normal email. You won't be able to send/receive big jpegs or videos, but you can send thumbnail-sized images.

Look at XGate for satphone systems and software. There are others that probably work fine, but this is what I use.
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Old 29-08-2014, 02:53   #3
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Re: satellite phones

I think the newer technology has made xgate and other pay as you go compression software obsolete now. Now you can purchase an iridium access point for $150 that handles email compression. We are happy with our iridium 9555 for email and weather as well.
Also it's worth looking into the new iridium go, but I suspect ongoing costs may be higher.
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Old 29-08-2014, 06:15   #4
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Re: satellite phones

I think Iridium and Inmarsat are what you want to look into. An external antenna and a sound service ashore (e.g. XGate) help heaps when heavier loads of data expected.

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Old 29-08-2014, 08:24   #5
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Re: satellite phones

Alec,
The title of your posting is "satellite phones", by which I assume (and most will assume) you mean a handheld sat phone...

But, the text of your posting asks about "communications while cruising the eastern Caribbean", which would not usually require a sat phone...
There is good cellular coverage on these islands, and when hoping from island-to-island you're only out of cellular range for a few hours, or up to a day or two if making a longer passage.... with ubiquitous Wi-Fi, cellular, wireless data plans, etc., available on the islands of the Eastern Caribbean, your "communications" needs can be met fairly easily and inexpensively....

For some details on weather info/forecasts...
Offshore / Hi-Seas Weather data / forecasts


Although, I understand that easy contact with elderly parents may have pushed you towards a sat phone....so, I'll try to answer you directly and briefly, up front...and then provide you with some more details / links below...


Quote:
Originally Posted by Alec H View Post
looking for communications while cruising eastern Carribean, 41' sailboat. Wife needs to talk to elderly parents.
In general order of usefulness to you in the Eastern Caribbean, pick one, two, or three of them...or all of them, as budget allows:

1- Cellular phone....(unlocked multiband cell phone) = cheap..
2- SSB radio....(for weather, safety, and telephone calls) = ~ $1000 - $2500 installed...
3- PACTOR modem, connected to SSB radio....(for e-mail) = ~ $1500
4- Iridium handheld sat phone...(voice calls and e-mails) = ~ $1000 - $1200
5- Ext. antenna / docking station, for sat phone.... ~ $250 - $1000



Also hoping for some internet and email.
E-mail via a sat phone data connection is possible, but it is LOW-SPEED data...
Internet access via a sat phone is NOT possible....



Anyone happy with their phone service, or very unhappy?
Iridium....
1) Iridium handheld sat phone, and a good service provider/plan, is going to provide you with easy / reliable voice calls worldwide...as well as LOW-SPEED data connections for e-mail (2.4kb / 2400 baud = 1/20 the speed of dial-up)

2) NO handheld sat phone is going to allow you useable internet access, no web surfing, no web mail, etc...
Just LOW SPEED data, and basic e-mail....along with voice calls...

3) Iridium works and works well....but be aware that handheld sat phones are NOT like cell phones....they will not ring below decks, if someone is trying to call you and the phone is below, you will not get the call...
If you want to receive calls (or place a call), you will need to be above deck / in the cockpit, and have the antenna extended....

4) You can add an external antenna / cable (and docking station) below decks, that will allow the phone to work below decks and for you to receive calls with the phone below....
But, these cost $$$$....

5) In addition to cellular (and Wi-Fi) being wide spread thru the E. Caribbean, there is also Shipcom Radio / WLO Radio, which provides ship-to-shore telephone calls via your SSB radio for $0.99/minute...(as well as traffic lists, 6-times-a-aday weather broadcasts, etc.)....
http://www.shipcom.com/
http://www.shipcom.com/services.html
http://www.shipcom.com/frequencies.html

Have a look here to see how easy it is to use...






6) If you desire some details about weather info/forecasts, ship-to-shore and shore-to-ship telephone calls, e-mail access, and internet connections at sea, etc., please have a look at these threads...and remember with Wi-Fi, cellular, wireless data plans, etc. all available on the islands of the Eastern Caribbean, your "communications" needs can be met fairly easily and inexpensively....


Offshore / Hi-Seas Weather data / forecasts

http://www.shipcom.com/
http://www.shipcom.com/services.html
http://www.shipcom.com/frequencies.html

Best options for internet.

Whats the best offshore internet connection?

Sat-fi vs. SSB

Sat Phone or SSB, if you had to pick one?

Ham, $$B, Iridium ?

Smart Phones, Satellites, and Internet

SSB or SatPhone ?

Satellite Email / Internet / Phone


You don't need to read all of these threads....but, if you desire the details, they are there...


I hope this helps..

Fair winds,

John
s/v Annie Laurie
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Old 31-05-2016, 10:08   #6
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Re: satellite phones

It was almost two years ago that I posted a question on satellite phones. I never saw any responses until today, while trying to find responses to a more recent post. Thank you for a very concise answer. Since then, T-mobile has service in most Caribbean Islands without much increase to my regular monthly bill. We expect to be cruising the Windwards next winter and will use T-mobie for phone and email; sign up for temporary Wifi when needed. Thanks again.
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Old 31-05-2016, 14:02   #7
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Re: satellite phones

Alec,
You're quite welcome!

BTW, when you say you never saw any responses, did you just not get any e-mail notifications of the responses (which happens!), or did you actually return to Cruiser's Forum and not see any responses ('cause that should be brought to the attention of the admin)???
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alec H View Post
It was almost two years ago that I posted a question on satellite phones. I never saw any responses until today, while trying to find responses to a more recent post. Thank you for a very concise answer. Since then, T-mobile has service in most Caribbean Islands without much increase to my regular monthly bill. We expect to be cruising the Windwards next winter and will use T-mobie for phone and email; sign up for temporary Wifi when needed. Thanks again.
Now, I'm wondering how many sailors even get to read the answers that I spend so much time writing???


Fair winds..

John
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