Post-Paid or Pre-Paid Satellite Airtime?


Just like mobile phones, when it comes to choosing airtime for satellite phones there are two options – post-paid and pre-paid airtime.  There are advantages and disadvantages to both options but we aim to give you all the facts you need to make an informed decision to ensure you choose the most cost effective and best suited airtime option for your requirements.

Post-Paid Contracts
Satellite airtime contracts are available on the Iridium, Thuraya, Globalstar and Inmarsat satellite networks.  If you are willing to sign up to the commitment of a 12 month minimum contract there can be many benefits to post-paid satellite airtime.  Unlike pre-paid airtime you do not have to worry about minutes or SIM cards expiring – you will be able to use your SIM for as long as you keep the contract running after the minimum period.  You can also benefit from cheaper call costs with a contract which is great if you will regularly be using your sat phone and unlike pre-paid airtime you are only paying for the minutes as and when you use them.  Detailed call records are available with post-paid airtime contracts and are sent with your invoice on a monthly basis – this is something that is not usually done with pre-paid airtime.

Pre-Paid Vouchers
Pre-paid vouchers have the benefit of no monthly fees or minimum contracts.  However, you are paying upfront for your minutes so make sure you choose a quantity of minutes most suited to your usage.  This is because with Thuraya and Iridium prepaid options all airtime vouchers have an expiry date or validity period which will start from the date you add them to your SIM card.  So if you don’t use your minutes, you lose them. This means you need to keep track of when airtime is expiring so that you don’t get caught out when you need to use your satellite phone although most providers will send you reminders before airtime expires.

Although it is possible to top-up your satellite airtime online, as most sat phones are used in remote locations it is useful to make arrangements with your service provider before you leave on remote trips as to how you will give payment for any top-ups you might require along the way.

With both post-paid and pre-paid satellite airtime you get free incoming calls and text messages making it easy to stay in contact with friends, family and colleagues back home via your sat phone.

The world of satellite airtime can be confusing with various tariffs, plan validities and units per minute available.  The main question to ask yourself when choosing your airtime is how often you will be using your sat phone. We are happy to discuss the best satellite airtime option for you, please contact us.

 

Post-Paid Contracts

Pre-Paid Vouchers

Advantages

Low cost/minute, no need for top-ups

Flexible, no contract or activation fees

Disadvantages

12 month minimum contract

Have to keep track of when minutes are expiring.  Lose unused minute if let them expire.

Networks available

Iridium, Inmarsat, Thuraya, Globalstar

Iridium, Inmarsat, Thuraya, Globalstar

Payment

Invoiced monthly

Payable in advance

Calls charged in

$/min

Units

Best for

Regular usage

Emergency or short-term use

 

Test Your Satellite Phone Week

During 23-29 May 2010 Iridium will run its fourth annual “Test Your Satellite Phone” Week.  Some satellite phones are used for emergencies only and so are not regularly tested.  To avoid problems when you need the phone at that critical moment Iridium advise you to complete a call to their free number (00-1-480-752-5105) from your Iridium sat phone.  Callers will hear a recorded voice message confirming they completed the call successfully and offering refresher tips for using the phones.

Sat phone users subscribed to networks other than Iridium can also use this procedure but they may be charged for the call.

For more information visit www.testyoursatellitephone.com.

Need a satellite phone for the short-term only? Why not consider a sat phone rental?

As we enter summer people start to enjoy the weather and get out and about by climbing, sailing, mountaineering and fishing more often.  However, many of these activities can mean venturing into the unknown where there is no mobile phone coverage and in case of emergency it is essential that adventurers have means of communication.  This is where a satellite phone would come in handy but if you only need it for a couple of months a year is it worth the investment?  With sat phones ranging from £420 – £999 plus airtime charges it may be that satellite phone rental is a more viable option.  Starting from just £140 a month sat phone rental allows you to stay in touch without the investment a sat phone purchase brings.

For coverage in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, the Far East and Australia consider Thuraya or Iridium.  However, if you need to use a sat phone outside these areas Iridium is the only provider to meet your requirements.  See network coverage maps for more information.

The Iridium 9555 satellite phone offers global coverage and is just one of the sat phones Global Telesat Communications offer for rental.

The Iridium 9555 satellite phone offers global coverage and is just one of the sat phones Global Telesat Communications offer for rental.

Once you have decided where you need to use the sat phone consider whether you need to hire any sat phone accessories.  Good sat phone rental providers can offer normal mains chargers, solar chargers and additional batteries as well as hands-free and data kits.

Most providers work on the basis that you pay a refundable deposit upon booking your satellite phone rental.  Any airtime charges you incur will then be deducted from this deposit upon return of the phone and accessories in good condition.

At Global Telesat Communications we offer the newest satellite phone handsets for rental – the Iridium 9555, Thuraya XT and Thuraya SO-2510.  We will shortly be adding the new Inmarsat IsatPhone Pro to our rental stock which provides global coverage.  Satellite phones are available for next day delivery and we can provide frequent traffic updates so you can keep track of your spending.  We also offer basic airtime plans for rentals with emergency use in mind only or plans with inclusive minutes for those who know they will be frequently using the sat phone.  For more information please contact us or visit our satellite rentals page.