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Old 11-01-2014, 14:41   #1
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THE Best Iridium Service Provider?

Hi all,

Im a mountain guide/medic who recently got a hold of a iridium extreme sat phone for my job/side adventures.

Im wondering if anyone has any recommendations for service providers. I know there are numerous posts on this forum with similar titles but all, it seems, have devolved into a packet/compression service/software posts (which i will need eventually but I need help finding a solid SSP first).

Most of the service provider websites that I have found are hard to navigate and honestly look a little shoddy.

Im looking for a monthly plan (~$50-70/mo) with voicemail and minimal (10-20) bundled min., also a USA +1 number and reliable tech support. To complicate things all the sites I have found have slightly different plans.

I want to be sure that if I'm signing up for a monthly plan that the company is reputable and not some online-only rip-off that will be out of business in a couple months.

If you've had a great rental experience that might help too.

Thanks in advance
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Old 11-01-2014, 15:43   #2
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Re: THE Best Iridium Service Provider?

I don't have rental experience, but for the last ten+ years I've been working with Outfitter Satellite and Global Marine Networks. They are definitely not fly-by-night, and if they have a plan you can use I wouldn't hesitate signing up.

None of these are as big and shiny as the big cellphone providers, and they are all essentially reselling Iridium's equipment and network. Global Marine Networks (and others) do have their own email servers and software, optimized for satphone characteristics.
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Old 11-01-2014, 17:59   #3
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Re: THE Best Iridium Service Provider?

Thanks a lot mate, seems like GMN is a legit operation.

And i guess I'm changing my mind about the postpaid plan. Reading through other posts it seems like going with the prepaid cards is way more popular.

I was under the assumption that you couldn't use data, two-stage dialing, or voicemail with prepaid but i guess thats not correct, please correct me if I'm wrong.

The only thing I'm "giving up" with a prepaid route is the totally-free-for-the-caller USA +1 number (as opposed to the two-stage which is a "international" billed call to AZ or HI, but still cheaper than calling 881 direct).

Please let me know if I have this right.
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Old 11-01-2014, 18:08   #4
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Re: THE Best Iridium Service Provider?

I went with GMN and have found them to be very helpful
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Old 11-01-2014, 19:31   #5
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Re: THE Best Iridium Service Provider?

I've got the pre-paid plan, and my phone can be called via the two-stage method, or the direct method. As far as I know there is no free-local-call-for-the-caller plan available.

I definitely have (and use) data and voicemail. As you probably know, the new phones (including the Extreme) also give you text-messaging. The old phones only supported incoming text messages, but the new ones support send and receive. I recall that the incoming messages are free, and the outgoing ones are pretty reasonable. Better check that though...

Note that Iridium recently changed the pre-paid minutes rollover rules, and not for the better.
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Old 11-01-2014, 20:16   #6
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Re: THE Best Iridium Service Provider?

From globalcomsatphone.com: "The +1 Access service is similar in concept to two-stage but doesn't require any user intervention. Each +1 number is directly mapped in the switch to an accompanying 8816 number. When a call is received via +1, the system identifies the correct MSISDN and routes the call to the Iridium user. The process is seamless, but there will be a slight delay prior to call connection - as is currently experienced with two stages...Subscribers can manage their call costs and caller access by choosing to distribute their 8816 phone number or their +1 phone number. Customer satisfaction will increase as callers are able to avoid the high PSTN termination charges associated with direct dialing."

Other outfits also make a distinction between 2-stage and a direct +1 number. Although it would be nice, as i also operate my own business, it really is unnecessary.

SMS is huge for me, and yes you're right most providers have free incoming texts, i use a Zurich based weather service for my expeditions and I can finally ditch all the gear associated with getting email. Now i can get my weather forecasts for free over SMS, so crucial.

Apparently Iridium is restructuring their costs because of the next-gen satellite they are launching, which will be online in 2015. Hopefully they don't release any next-gen handsets making my poor (and expensive) 9575 obsolete.
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Old 12-01-2014, 16:48   #7
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Originally Posted by bumfluff View Post
From globalcomsatphone.com: "The +1 Access service is similar in concept to two-stage but doesn't require any user intervention. Each +1 number is directly mapped in the switch to an accompanying 8816 number. When a call is received via +1, the system identifies the correct MSISDN and routes the call to the Iridium user. The process is seamless, but there will be a slight delay prior to call connection - as is currently experienced with two stages...Subscribers can manage their call costs and caller access by choosing to distribute their 8816 phone number or their +1 phone number. Customer satisfaction will increase as callers are able to avoid the high PSTN termination charges associated with direct dialing."
.
I'm not sure why one would plan to receive calls with a handheld satphone, since (unlike a cellphone) you normally only have it on & with antenna extended when you yourself are dialing out. It would make more sense to have someone text you "call me back" and you'd then dial out at your convenience.

On the other hand, receiving calls would make sense if you plan a fixed or semi-fixed installation (with external antenna) where the phone is online for extended amounts of time (eg offshore, or at camp overnight), but I'm not sure that it is part of the OP's use case.

For inland use, keep in mind that satellite connections could be problematic without a clear 360deg horizon view (eg in a valley) since you need line of sight with several of Iridium's satellites to get a decent signal. That's rarely an issue afloat.
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