Satellite Internet Access Using Satellite Terminals

If you’re looking to purchase a satellite broadband terminal but don’t know where to start, our blog is here to help.  There are many factors to take into account when considering a satellite terminal.

 

The main use of a satellite terminal is to allow connection to the internet at broadband speeds from virtually anywhere in the world.  As most terminals are no larger than a laptop they can be transported easily and are therefore ideal for people requiring internet connectivity while travelling in remote locations. Some terminals offer voice capability through a telephone handset which means they can also be used to make satellite phone calls.

 

There are two main networks to choose from when considering a satellite terminal; Inmarsat BGAN and Thuraya. Most terminals currently available work on the near-global Inmarsat BGAN network and offer data rates of between 384 kbps to 492 kbps. Some terminals, such as the Thrane & Thrane Explorer 700, allow simultaneous multi-user access to the internet but most users will find the Thrane & Thrane 300 or Wideye Sabre 1 BGAN terminals more than adequate as they are small, light and cheaper than the multi-user models.

 

The Inmarsat BGAN network covers everywhere in the world from 72 degrees north to 72 degrees south. This means that the only place the network is not available is in the poles. If you are interested in purchasing a BGAN terminal please look at our Inmarsat BGAN terminal page to see the range of Inmarsat BGAN terminals currently available.

 

Inmarsat BGAN Explorer 700 Satellite Terminal

Inmarsat BGAN Explorer 700 Satellite Terminal

 

The alternative network to consider is Thuraya. Thuraya offer just one terminal, the Thuraya IP, which is a small and light terminal capable of a data rate of up to 444 kbps. The Thuraya network covers two thirds of the globe consisting of most of Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Australasia. If you are interested in purchasing a Thuraya terminal please look at our Thuraya terminal page to see more information on the Thuraya IP terminal.

 

If you’re still not sure about the Inmarsat and Thuraya coverage why not have a look at our coverage page to double check that the Inmarsat or Thuraya terminal will work where you are going.

 

Once you have chosen the satellite broadband terminal most suitable for your requirements you will need to buy airtime to use with the terminal. If you do not need global coverage and will be travelling within the Thuraya network coverage area you may find that some of their airtime options can work out better value for money than BGAN. Thuraya offer post-paid plans which include a set amount of data that you can transfer each month without incurring any additional charge. Once this amount is exceeded you will be charged at a standard rate for your usage.

 

If you need to use your terminal outside the Thuraya network area then an Inmarsat BGAN terminal is the best option for you. Although this can work out a little bit more expensive in some situations, you will have the peace of mind knowing that, unlike Thuraya IP, the terminal offers near-global coverage. With BGAN you have the option of buying post-paid or pre-paid airtime. Post-paid airtime involves a monthly fee and a minimum contract term and is suitable for someone who is going to use an unknown amount of airtime over a long period of time. Prepaid airtime is more suitable for short term users who know in advance the rough amount of data they will be transferring. Once this data has been transferred you will not be able to use your terminal until you top it up with extra credit.

 

Once you have made a decision on what you think best suits your needs then why not get in contact with us to ask any final questions.

Introducing the new Iridium Pre-Paid 750 Minute SIM Card

Iridium have launched a new pre-paid voucher to cater for high-use seasonal customers. During the summer months sat phone usage increases as users in the tourist and leisure industries start to use sat phones for emergency purposes while partaking in outdoor activities. This voucher is ideal for these customers as it has a six month validity to cover satellite phone usage until the autumn.  Furthermore there are no coverage restrictions so users can take advantage of Iridium’s global coverage.

The Iridium 750 minute voucher offers a call cost of 63p per minute to landlines or mobile phones and a cost of just 31p per minute to Iridium phones - these prices are cheaper than the cost per minute with an Iridium contract without the 12 month commitment.

Iridium SIM Card

Iridium Pre-Paid SIM Card

Please note that you cannot add extra validity or credit to the 750 minute SIM card and it is only available on a new Iridium SIM card.

The Iridium pre-paid voucher is available to purchase online now for next day delivery from Global Telesat Communications.

Satellite Phone Call Charges vs Mobile Phone Roaming Charges

GlobalstarYou can make a call from a satellite phone from as low as 47p per minute.

Making calls from a satellite phone is often perceived as expensive for a business or individual.  Caps to call charges when roaming in the EU in recent years have been welcomed but when travelling outside the EU sat phones can still provide lower call costs than roaming with your mobile phone.

With a sat phone calls can start from as little as 47p per minute:

Lowest Sat Phone Call Charges Per Minute
Pay As You Go
Contract*
Charge to Receive Calls
Globalstar
47p
59p
0p
Iridium
£1.40
81p
0p
Thuraya
78p
68p
0p
Inmarsat
72p
68p
0p
EE GSM
£2.00
£2.00
£2.00
Charges include VAT, all based on calls to landlines or mobiles excluding Inmarsat Contract – call charge relevant to landlines only.

Compare this with mobile phone roaming charges of up to £2.00† per minute and it’s easy to see how a sat phone can prove a cost effective method of communication for global travellers.  The cost per minute of pre-paid satellite airtime also compares favourably to the equivalent mobile roaming charges.

Not only can it be cheaper making calls from a sat phone but receiving calls is better value for money.  Most UK mobile phone operators will charge you to receive calls when you are roaming – one UK provider charges as much as £2.00† per minute to receive a call in certain areas of the world.  Also, unfortunately as one GTC employee recently discovered some networks also charge each time you receive a missed call on your mobile when outside the EU!  That’s £2.00 each time you miss a call and with the number of cold callers these days that can soon add up.  With a sat phone, wherever you are in the world you do not pay to receive any calls.

Using a sat phone abroad also allows organisations and individuals to budget for call charges.  Many UK mobile phone operators have different tariffs for different areas of the world and the price is also affected by which country you are calling.  This makes it almost impossible to know how much a call is going to cost you when you make it which in turn makes it very difficult to budget in advance.  A sat phone allows you to make calls to fixed or mobile numbers anywhere in the world at a fixed rate  per minute and this will not change, wherever you are.

If you are a frequent traveller why not consider a sat phone for cheaper call charges when abroad?  We are happy to advise you on the best satellite network, phone and airtime plan for you.  Please contact us for more information.

* All contracts except Globalstar are charged in USD.  Prices quoted are based on GBP=USD exchange rate of 1.60.  Globalstar contracts are charged in EUR and are based on GBP=EUR exchange rate of 1.22.   All prices include VAT.

† Based on calls made and received on EE call plans.

Updated February 2014. All call charges correct as of February 2014.