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.

Satellite Phones vs Cell Phones

What is the difference between a satellite phone and a cell phone?  Cell phones rely on terrestrial networks to complete a call whereas satellite phones rely on orbiting satellites – the satellite is the equivalent of a cell phone mast.  This means that sat phones are ideal for individuals travelling in remote locations where there is no cell phone coverage.  It also means that satellite phones are essential in case of emergency such as a hurricane or earthquake – often the local cell phone infrastructure is destroyed which makes calls by cell phone impossible.

 

Although call costs are more expensive using a satellite phone when you are in an area with no traditional communication methods, sat phones are vital.  As this map from GSM World shows, there are still vast regions of the world that aren’t covered by GSM networks.  Compare this with the Iridium satellite phone network which provides global coverage and you can see how useful satellite phones are.

 

GSM World Coverage 2009 from GSM World

GSM World Coverage 2009 from GSM World

Another difference between satellite phones and cell phones are the handsets used.  Satellite phones have a built in extendable antenna which allows the phone to pick up a satellite signal.  Apart from the extendable antenna the handsets are now very similar in size and weight to cell phones making them very easy to carry when travelling.

It is possible to combine the advantages of GSM and satellite networks in one handset.  Thuraya SIM cards allow you to roam on compatible GSM networks when in their coverage area.  Even better, the Thuraya SG-2520 functions with both a Thuraya SIM card and GSM SIM card with no phone unlocking required.  This means that when you are in a GSM coverage area you can use a local SIM card reducing call costs and meaning you only need to carry one handset.

Satellite phones and cell phones both have their advantages but for communication in remote locations a sat phone is the best option.

Why buy a satellite phone?

Most modern day satellite phones offer similar features to mobile phones, in a similar size but with the added advantage of being functional in areas where GSM service is not available.

Furthermore, in recent years the cost of both phones and satellite airtime has reduced dramatically making a satellite phone a viable option for those who often venture into areas with no GSM coverage as well as those who wish to keep a satellite phone in case of an emergency situation.

A satellite phone may not be a requirement for the everyday mobile phone user but if you work, or play in remote areas and need to be in touch then consider buying from Global Telesat Communications.