Polar Expedition Leader Alex Hibbert discusses his satellite communications set-up

Polar-LandscapeAlex-HibbertAlex Hibbert is a world record-holding polar traveller who has skied further on an unsupported Arctic journey than anyone in history.  He relies on a variety of Iridium satellite comms devices provided by GTC to keep in touch in the harsh environments he encounters.

We spoke to Alex about his use of satellite phones and find out how he applauds GTC for their “no-nonsense approach” to customer service.

“Just one example of GTC's support, having had a 9575 charging adapter crunched by the jaws of a polar bear alarm dog, was to have a replacement fast-tracked half way around the world.”

“Just one example of GTC’s support, having had a 9575 charging adapter crunched by the jaws of a polar bear alarm dog, was to have a replacement fast-tracked half way around the world.”

When did you first begin to use satellite phones?

“By the time I launched myself into the expedition world in the late 2000s, satellite communications were very much in command; traditional radios had been outdated and replaced. Nonetheless, early models were simple in design, far behind even the fledgling mobile phones of the time, expensive and with glitches.”

How did your relationship with GTC develop?

“I began as a customer of GTC in 2011, attracted by their keen pricing and no-nonsense approach to customer service. If I needed a straight answer to a question that had major safety ramifications, I knew I’d get it. Handsets came and went over the years, and data solutions started appearing. A few years ago GTC formalised its support of my projects and vice versa – grown in the way sponsorships should be: from a long accumulation of trust and excellent performance and not due to being the highest bidder.”

Alex uses the Iridium Extreme to keep in touch on his Polar expeditions

Alex uses the Iridium Extreme to keep in touch on his Polar expeditions

What satellite communications equipment do you currently use?

“My current outfit is the Iridium 9575 Extreme and AxcessPoint for data (with a second AxcessPoint and 9555 handset for redundancy). The ruggedness of the handset itself and the quality batteries (critical on long journeys) combines with a far more reliable Iridium satellite network than transpired in the past.”

How will you change your communications set-up as technology advances?

“As the next generation of Iridium appears, with the GO! data terminal and its replacements to take advantage of long-awaited fast Iridium data bandwidth, I will entrust GTC to make sure I stay connected. Just one example of their support, having had a 9575 charging adapter crunched by the jaws of a polar bear alarm dog, was to have a replacement fast-tracked half way around the world.”

Find our more about Alex at www.alexhibbert.com

Iridium Push-to-Talk now available from Global Telesat Communications

Global Telesat Communications is pleased to have been approved by Iridium as an Authorized Iridium Push-to-Talk Reseller

Iridium’s Push-to-Talk (PTT) solution is the world’s first global, satellite-based push-to-talk service. It enables fast, simple, and global group communications at the push of a button, enabling instant communication between participants located anywhere on earth.

Iridium can deliver push-to-talk the way it was meant to be, without the expense and limitations of traditional ground-based towers and repeaters.

Iridium PTT Handset

Iridium PTT Handset

Iridium Push-to-Talk users will make a connection using the Iridium PTT Handset which facilitates global push-to-talk service as well as all the popular features of the Iridium 9575 Extreme satellite phone including voice, SMS, and GPS tracking via satellite.

The Iridium Extreme PTT has an IP65 rating which means it is dust proof, shock resistant and jet water resistant. It also offers military-grade 810F durability.

Iridium PTT Control Center

Iridium PTT Control Center

There are various airtime options for Iridium PTT depending on how many users and regions you need to use the system in.  PTT plans have just a one month minimum term and Monthly Fees start from $750 for 2 x PTT handsets operating within 100,000 km2.

See all PTT Airtime Options

Once the user has set-up their desired Talk Group Plan with GTC all Talk Group and Handset settings can be controlled directly by the user through the Iridium PTT Command Center.

Talk Groups

  • Have a Monthly Fee based upon the Size Limit
  • Can contain an unlimited number of handsets (there will be a separate monthly fee for each handset)
  • Can be set by the user in the Control Center in Circular or Rectangular areas or by using specific latitude / longitude coordinates in a list view
  • Can be split into up to 10 different coverage “regions”. There are no restrictions on where the coverage may be placed on the earth.


  • Can be assigned to a maximum of 15 Talk Groups
  • Will be charged a single Monthly Fee for PTT
  • Standard Iridium Voice & Data services will require a separate contract

Iridium Push-To-Talk can only be purchased through an Authorized Reseller who has undertaken specific PTT Training.

Contact us on 01202 801290 to discuss Iridium Push-to-Talk (PTT) options to suit your requirements.

Test Your Satellite Phone: Iridium SatPhone Saves Arctic Worker’s Life!


Many of our customers use their satellite phones in remote and often dangerous locations making them essential lifelines if an emergency situation were to happen. It is vital to test your satellite phone regularly to ensure that you can reach out for help if you need to. It is so quick and easy to do and it really can save your life- Fredrik Granath can vouch for that!

Fredrik Granath is a leading expert on fieldwork and production of photography and film in the Polar Regions and he fully understands that proper preparation can be key to survival as he spends a lot of time in some of the most extreme conditions on the planet.

In May 2005 Fredrik was driving his snowmobile up a hill in Svalbard when the ground disappeared beneath him and he plunged into a 20 foot crevasse. He was left with a broken back and his left arm was crushed.

“I always keep the Iridium phone close, so I was able to call for help,” he explains. After a helicopter rescue operation, extensive surgery, and half a year of rehabilitation, Fredrik was able to return to the field. “In our work,” Fredrik concludes, ”having the life line of being able to call for help is absolutely necessary.”

Fredrik’s story is not unique and any of us could find ourselves in an emergency situation of some sort and so it is critical that you test your satellite phone regularly. Iridium have set up ‘Test Your Satellite Phone’ week to help ensure your satellite phones are in proper working order. For testing tips visit www.testyoursatellitephone.com or simply dial 00-1-480-752-5105 to get started. No data rates will apply.

Is the incorrect time showing on your Iridium handset?

Iridium-Satellite-Network-LogoIridium changed the system time on its satellites on 3 March 2015.

Iridium calls this “re-epoching.” After that point, Iridium handsets (like the Iridium Extreme, Iridium 9555, Iridium 9505a, Iridium 9505, and the Iridium 9500) will display the incorrect system time until users enter in a string of numbers.

You can reset the system time on your satellite phone to reflect the correct time by entering a quick string of numbers into your handset.

How to Reset the System Time on Your Iridium Handheld Satellite Phone (9555/9575)

iridium9555At this time, the following instructions only apply to Iridium 9555 and Iridium 9575:

  1.  After the Iridium Time Re-Epoch Occurs (March 3, 2015) you can reset the time on your Iridium 9555 or Iridium 9575
  2. Dial *#99#2014051114235500# on an Iridium 9555 or Iridium 9575 satellite phone
  3. Press the green key
  4. Then power off/on

Resetting the System Time on an Older Iridium Handheld Satellite Phone (9500/9505A)

Iridium 9500, 9505, and 9505A customers will need to set the updated time and date from their phone menu.

  1. Follow the steps in “Getting to Phone Setup…” to get to “Set Time and Date,” and then press OK to select.
  2. Press MENU to choose “Set Home Time + Date” or “Set Away Time + Date,” and then press OK. You will see “Enter Home Time or Enter Away Time” and the time currently set.
  3. Press OK to accept the displayed time or enter the time in 24-hour format, and then press OK. You will see “Enter Home Date or Enter Away Time” and the date currently set.
  4. Press OK to accept the displayed date. You will see “Completed.” or enter the date in day(dd)-month(mm)-year(yy) form and then press OK. You will see “Completed.”
  5. Press and hold C to exit the menu.

Global Telesat Communications to support record attempt for Fastest Human Powered Circumnavigation


The 28ft ocean rowing boat will carry five people on board 3,500 miles! Picture courtesy of Sam Greatrex/Lap The World

We are pleased to be supporting Sam Greatrex from Lap The World in the next leg of his attempt to break the record for the fastest Human Powered Circumnavigation.

The second leg of the journey sees Sam and his team rowing 3,500 miles from Lagos, Portugal to Guyana across the North Atlantic Ocean.  On this trip alone the opportunity to break 4 Guinness World records exists including the fastest crossing from mainland Europe to mainland South America.  During the journey the team will carry an Iridium satellite phone and Iridium GO! to keep in contact with the team back home and obtain weather reports.

Aside from breaking records Sam aims to raise £240,000 for Macmillan Cancer Support.  Macmillan is a cause close to Sam who was diagnosed with cancer in 1995.  He says “It’s always been an ambition of mine to do something really meaningful for Macmillan Cancer Support after they helped me recover from cancer.”  This amount would be enough to build a chemotherapy suite in a hospital – of the target Sam says “The circumference of earth is 24,000 miles and if we raise £10 for each mile of that journey, we’ll hit the target and help people diagnosed with cancer in the UK have access to the same level of care that I was fortunate to receive.”

Help Sam by donating at https://www.justgiving.com/laptheworld/

Read more about Sam’s Circumnavigation at http://www.laptheworld.com/

Satellite Phone, Tracker, WiFi Hotspot and BGAN rental from GTC

When you need satellite communications on a short term basis only our rental service is a flexible option with satellite phones, trackers and internet terminals available to rent with a minimum term of just 7 days and charges from just £4 per day.

We like to offer our customers flexibility so our daily charges don’t include minutes or messages you might not end up using – if you know you will be using the phone we offer pre-paid minutes from just 80p per minute.

Here at GTC we pride ourselves on customer service and are here to answer your questions on our rental services.  Furthermore with then wide range of equipment available here at our offices in Poole we can offer next day delivery within the UK. Need it quicker?! Let us know and we can obtain a same day delivery quote.

Satellite Phone Rental

satellite-phone-rentalWe can provide rental services for single users or those in need of multiple phones.  We offer phones from Iridium, Inmarsat, Thuraya and Globalstar all of which have benefits depending on which region you are travelling to.

Satellite Phones are great for voice calls, they do have a slow data connection but we do not normally advise using the handsets for this purpose.  If you need a data connection please look at Satellite Terminal/WiFi Hotspot Rental below.

One of most exciting satellite phone rentals to date was providing 100 Globalstar phones for use on the UK leg of the Tour De France 2014!

Read more about the rental phones provided for Tour De France 2014

Satellite Tracker Rental

satellite-tracker-rentalFor those just requiring tracking services we offer the popular DeLorme inReach SE.  Rental customers get their own MapShare page which allows followers back home to keep track of the user’s location and send messages to the device.  This device enables the user to send out automatic tracking points as well as custom text and email messages.

Satellite Terminal / Satellite WiFi Hotspot Rental

Isathub-rentalWhile satellite phones are great for voice services the data speeds offered are a little slower than what we are used to these days! If you require email or internet access then a BGAN terminal or WiFi hotspot is the option for you.

BGAN terminals need to connect directly to a laptop while WiFi hotspots pair with your existing smartphone or tablet to provide voice and data services.

Read more about Satellite WiFi Hotspot Rental

GTC-01-010For further information on our rental service please contact our Rental Administrator, Nicholas Stedmon on 01202 801290 who will be happy to answer your questions!

What are the running costs of satellite phones?

Many people assume that the running costs of satellite phones are high but did you know that you can run a satellite phone from as little as £10 per month? Satellite phones are ideal for anyone needing voice and SMS capabilities in areas where no other reliable methods of telecommunications are available. You have a choice of two airtime options when buying a satellite phone; pay-as you-go  or a pay monthly contract:

  • Pay-as-you-go airtime allows you to buy aman talking on isatphone specified amount of units or minutes and once they have been used or expire you can either top-up or purchase a new card. This is very similar to the way that a pay-as-you-go SIM card works for a regular mobile phone.
  • Pay monthly contracts carry a fixed monthly charge in addition to the cost of any voice and data calls you will make using the SIM. If you plan to use your satellite phone regularly throughout the year and do not want to worry about the expiry dates or inconvenience of topping-up pay-as-you-go SIM cards you may find it more convenient and cost effective to use a post-paid SIM card.

At Global Telesat Communications we sell a range of satellite phones which operate on networks including Globalstar, Inmarsat, Iridium and Thuraya.


You can run a Globalstar phone from as little as £10 a gtcltd-globalstar-hplogomonth by signing up to their access plan. The Globalstar satellite network is suitable for customers demanding the best satellite voice quality and fastest low-band data speeds at an affordable and highly competitive price. Globalstar currently offer the cheapest pay monthly airtime options and we offer a range of Globalstar airtime plans starting at just €10.00 per month ex VAT with some higher consumption plans offering voice and data calls for as little as €0.15 per minute.

Globalstar have recently introduced pay as you go airtime with airtime vouchers ranging from 50 units for £25 ex VAT to 1000 units for £390 ex VAT. Please click here for more information about Globalstar airtime costs.


You can run an Inmarsat phone from as little as £18 a month Inmarsat-Satellite-Network-Logoby signing up to their standard plan which includes 10 minutes of call time. Inmarsat is the world’s leading provider of global mobile satellite communications providing voice and high-speed data services to almost anywhere on the planet – on land, at sea and in the air. Inmarsat offer pay as you go airtime from as little as £15 ex VAT for 25 minutes worth of call time to landlines and mobile phones. They also offer a range of pay monthly contracts starting at $30.00 ex VAT.

Although the monthly fees are slightly higher with Inmarsat their contracts have a one month minimum term and so you will not be tied into a long contract. You can find out more about Inmarsat airtime costs here.


You can run an Iridium phone from as little as £27 a month iridium-logowith their standard pay monthly contract. Iridium is the world’s second largest provider of mobile voice and data communications services via satellite and the only commercial provider of communications services offering 100% global coverage.

Iridium have pay as you go vouchers starting from £38.00 ex VAT for 50 minutes of call time.

Iridium’s pay as you go vouchers are slightly more expensive than some of the other networks but they are the only one with completely global coverage and so they can be used anywhere on Earth.

Iridium pay monthly contracts cost $45.00 a month ex VAT but they offer a one month minimum term which can be beneficial for people who do not expect to use their satellite phone all year around. Find out more about Iridium airtime costs here.


You can run a Thuraya phone from just £12 a month on gtcltd-thuraya-hplogotheir standard plan. Thuraya is a United Arab Emirates based provider of mobile satellite voice and data services with coverage across most of Europe, the Middle East, North, Central and East Africa, Asia and Australia.

Thuraya pay as you go vouchers start at just £15 for 22 minutes of call time in NOVA zones.

Post-Paid Thuraya airtime starts at just $20 a month ex VAT. You can find out more about Thuraya airtime costs here.

If you would like to learn more about the running costs for satellite phones please call us on 0800 112 3919.

15 Minutes to Set-Up Your Satellite Phone

We often have customers come to us with last minute requirements or those who are worried that setting up their satellite phone will be complicated but it needn’t be.

Once your SIM is active here’s how to get started.  GTC customers will receive an email once the SIM is active with their phone number details.

If you’re not sure on the status give us a call on +44 1202 801290.

1. Make sure the SIM card is inserted into the satellite phone

Remove the battery and insert the SIM card with gold PINs facing down. The exception is modern Globalstar phones which do not require a SIM card.

clear-line-of-sight-to-the-sky2. Take the phone outside and find a clear line of sight to the sky

For best performance, move away from tall obstacles such as buildings or trees.

Make sure the antenna is fully extended and pointing to its optimal position (straight up to the sky).

For Inmarsat and Thuraya handsets face towards the equator.

3. Make a test call from the satellite phone

When dialling make sure you dial in international format:

e.g. to call GTC dial 00 44 1202 801290.

Use a + or 00 in front of all numbers.

Calling into the phone

Use the same method to call into the phone i.e. a + or 00 in front of the number.

Having problems? Check with your operator that they support calls to satellite phones. Try dialling from a different network.

Did you know…Inmarsat & Iridium customers can call these test numbers for free ?

Inmarsat: +870776999999

Iridium:  +1-480-752-5105 

4. Send a test message*

Enter the recipient’s phone number in international format.

Sending an SMS to the phone

Use the same method to send a text into the phone i.e. a + or 00 in front of the number.

*Excludes Globalstar which does not have SMS capability.

Did you know…You can send a free SMS to some satellite phones?  Visit:





Do you have any other tips for getting started with a satellite phone?


Post a comment and let us know!

How to call emergency numbers from your Sat Phone

Satellite phones can provide an essential means of communication when you find yourself outside of mobile phone network coverage. Whilst we hope that you will never find yourself in the position where you need to make a call to the emergency services it is always better to be safe than sorry and so here is our guide to making emergency phone calls from your satellite phone.

We also highly recommend that all sat phone users manually store emergency numbers in their phonebook where possible.

If you have an Iridium satellite phone:

  1. Iridium-9575-ExtremeYou will need to obtain the full international access code, country code, and phone number for the local fire, police, or ambulance depending upon the nature of the emergency and store it in your contacts.
  2. Power on your Iridium handset.
  3. Extend the antenna towards the open sky.
  4. Confirm proper registration and signal strength on the display
  5. Dial the local emergency number (911 in the United States/ 000 or 112 in Mainland Australia) and press the green send key.
  6. Verbally report the situation and your location to the operator for assistance.

Note: The Iridium service does not provide enhanced emergency calling service which automatically identifies your location.

If you have an Inmarsat satellite phone:

  1. You will need to obtain the full international access code, country code, and phone number for the local fire, police, or ambulance depending upon the nature of the emergency and store it in your contacts.
  2. Inmarsat-IsatPhone-ProPower on your Inmarsat IsatPhone Pro.
  3. Extend the antenna towards the open sky.
  4. Check your phone is connected to the satellite network and Inmarsat is displayed at the top left of the screen.
  5. Ensure that your phone has a GPS fix and the GPS fix required icon is not displayed.
  6. Dial the local emergency number (911 or 112 in the United States/ 000 or 112 in Mainland Australia) and press the green key.
  7. Verbally report the situation and your location to the operator for assistance.

Note: If you are within the United States you can also select Menu>Contacts>Emergency Numbers.

If you have a Thuraya satellite phone:

  1. thuraya-xt-dualYou will need to obtain the full international access code, country code, and phone number for the local fire, police, or ambulance depending upon the nature of the emergency and store it in your contacts.
  2. Power on your Thuraya phone.
  3. Extend the antenna towards the open sky.
  4. Confirm signal strength on the display.
  5. Dial the local emergency number and press the centre key.
  6. Verbally report the situation and your location to the operator for assistance.

Note: If your SIM card is not valid or roaming is not possible you can press the right soft key and dial the relevant emergency number. Emergency calls are permitted without entering a PIN code.

If you have a Globalstar satellite phone:

  1. You will need to obtain the full international access code, country code, and phone number for the local fire, police, or ambulance Globalstar-GSP-1700depending upon the nature of the emergency and store it in your contacts.
  2. Power on your Globalstar phone.
  3. Extend the antenna towards the open sky.
  4. Confirm signal strength on the display.
  5. Dial the local emergency number (911 in the United States, 112 in Europe) and press the call key.
  6. Verbally report the situation and your location to the operator for assistance.

Note: When making emergency calls, no special conditions apply.

Iridium Introduce the Iridium GO!

Iridium have announced a brand new product that can turn your smartphone or tablet into a global communications device capable of making reliable voice calls and data connections – anywhere in the world – even when outside of the range of terrestrial networks!

Iridium GO!

The fully portable Iridium GO! is a pocket sized device, with military-grade ruggedness and an IP rating of IP65, that enables you to use your smartphone or tablet when you have no access to terrestrial networks to:

  • make voice calls
  • share photos
  • access emails
  • SMS two-way
  • use applications
  • use GPS tracking
  • access social network sites
  • send out SOS alerts

Simply flip up the integrated antenna and the battery-powered unit will connect quickly and automatically to the Iridium LEO satellite constellation to create an anywhere Wi-Fi hotspot within a 30.5m radius.

You can then connect and operate up to 5 devices at a time within this area using the ‘Iridium GO! application’. Iridium have said that the Iridium GO! will be “supported by affordable plans that keep voice and data costs reasonable” with low-end service plans expected to start at around $35 a month, with unlimited plans at around $130 a month.

You will be able to purchase the Iridium GO! from our website soon but please click here to receive updates on availability.