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.

Introducing pre-paid airtime for Globalstar phones!

The Globalstar satellite network is one of the most advanced in the world, allowing you to keep in touch across over 80% of the Earth’s surface and we are pleased to announce that they have now introduced pay as you go satellite airtime!

To celebrate we have created a special introductory offer: Globalstar GSP-1700 satellite phone with 50 minutes of call time now available for just £260 plus VAT*.  Other packages are available here on our website.

gstar prepay voucherPay as you go airtime can offer a far more practical and cost effective solution if you do not use your satellite phone all year round or you don’t want to get tied into long contracts. Starting from just £25.00 ex VAT, we currently offer 5 different Globalstar pre-paid top up options ranging from 50 to 1000 units- each with a different amount of SIM validity attached so there is an option to suit everybody’s needs. If you are interested in pre-paid airtime for Globalstar phones then please take a look at our website here.


If you don’t already have a Globalstar phone we highly recommend the great value handset Globalstar GSP-1700 satellite phone which costs just £250 ex VAT! It offers the best call quality on the market and now there are new pay as you go options available it really is hard to beat! Buy yours today or learn more by clicking here.

Note: Pre-paid service will work ONLY in the current Globalstar Home zone, please check the Globalstar coverage map to see if you will be covered.

*Introductory Offer only available for a limited period.

We Offer Great Deals on Post-paid Airtime for Satellite Devices!

At GTC we work hard to bring our customers the best service possible and this includes offering great deals on airtime. We have a fantastic range of post-paid airtime contracts from leading satellite network providers Globalstar, Thuraya, Inmarsat and Iridium and we have ensured that our contracts are very easy to set up and can all be completed online.


We offer a lower calling rate per minute on post-paid contracts than many of our competitors do which means that if you choose to buy your post-paid airtime with GTC you can enjoy savings throughout your entire contract term! The lowest calling rates that we offer are from Globalstar and cost just €0.60/£0.50 per min and our Thuraya rates are almost as low, starting at only $0.80/£0.51 per min on the NOVA plan. Our Inmarsat rates start at just $0.90/£0.57 per min and our Iridium rates start from as little as $0.63/£0.40 per min.

Many of our monthly fees are also cheaper than other airtime providers and we are pleased to announce that we have created a great new deal on Thuraya airtime and have lowered the monthly fee from $40/month to $30/month.

We do not charge activation fees for any of our Inmarsat post-paid contracts and the majority of our Iridium and Globalstar contracts and this sets us apart from many of our competitors who ask for a $50 start-up fee.thuraya-satsleeve-iphone

We understand that some of our customers will not want to be tied into long contracts and so we have designed our post-paid airtime options to offer flexibility. Most of our post-paid contracts are available with a one month term, as opposed to the minimum one year contracts that most of our competitors offer.

Another advantage of our post-paid airtime options is that our customers have access to a simple-to-use database called SatCompass so that they can monitor their airtime traffic usage.

Check out our website where you will be able to find more information on all of our post-paid contracts and airtime.

Introducing Our New Trade-In Scheme!

We are introducing a new trade-in scheme for satellite phones. If you have an old satellite phone that is still in good working condition then simply send it back to us with all of the accessories and trade it in for a brand new one!


Trade in your old sat phone for a newer model such as the Thuraya SatSleeve, the revolutionary new product which turns your iPhone 4 into a satellite phone

Alternatively, if you do not wish to get a new phone you may elect to receive a cheque payment instead. In this case you will receive the published buy back amount (listed below) less £50.

If you are interested please fill out the Trade-In Form and send it back to us at sales@globaltelesat.co.uk

The prices for individual handsets are listed below:


New regulations for carrying sat phones into India

It is now mandatory for inbound travellers to declare if they are carrying a satellite phone into India.  This can be declared in a new column on the immigration card.  Satellite phones can only be used in India after a licence has been acquired from the Department of Telecommunications.

This news comes after a British man was arrested earlier this year in India for carrying a satellite phone.  Similar arrests have since occurred involving travellers who were not aware of the laws regarding the use of satellite communications.

Global Telesat Communications encourages all customers travelling internationally with their sat phones to check on local regulations before their departure.

Satellite Communications in a Marine Environment

Being on your boat should not mean that you are alienated from the outside world. Whether it’s staying in touch with the office or simply checking the latest news or weather, satellite communication systems are the simplest and most cost effective way to do so.  Regular mobile phones have limited capabilities at sea, whereas satellite phones provide far better coverage, with many capable of being used worldwide. Not only does this make them perfect for staying in contact with family and friends but also their value in terms of safety is infinite.  In a world that never stops, being connected on the move is more important than ever and thanks to satellite communications from GTC this is easier than ever, even when you’re on a boat.

The marine market is flooded with electronics so why should boating enthusiasts spend their hard earned cash on satellite communications?  Perhaps because voice, data, SMS and GPS capabilities (on Thuraya models) are available in one compact handset which can prove vital in case of an emergency.  Satellite phones and broadband terminals can also be used to download essential weather reports or simply just to keep in touch – whether it be for business or pleasure by voice or data.

A popular option for many boating enthusiasts is a portable satellite phone allowing them to take their sat phone between vessels and also carry with them when on land.  All handsets from Thuraya, Iridium, Globalstar offer voice and data services while Inmarsat will introduce to data to its Global Satellite Phone Service (GSPS) in 2011.  Furthermore the handsets can send and receive SMS with most satellite operators offering a web facility to send free SMS to a sat phone.  Data connections are easily facilitated by connecting the phones to a laptop via a USB cable which is included with the phone. With sat phone prices starting from £420 for the Thuraya SO-2510, these days a satellite phone is a more affordable option than ever before.  However, it is worth noting that sat phones can only achieve data speeds of up to 9.6 kbps which is slow for anything other than small emails.

If significantly higher data speeds or simultaneous voice and data usage is a necessity why not consider a fixed satellite broadband terminal?  There are products available specifically for marine application, some offering data speeds of up to 432kbps – Inmarsat FleetBroadband, Iridium OpenPort and Thuraya Seagull.   However, fixed marine terminals do carry a larger price tag than satellite phones with the cheapest terminal, Iridium OpenPort, offering data speeds of 128 kbps starting from £3,260.00.  Fixed terminals consist of the antenna which should be placed above deck which connects down to a below-deck unit where handsets and laptops are connected for voice and data usage.

FleetBroadband Antenna

FleetBroadband Antenna


There are also marine docking stations available for satellite phones providing a halfway point between a fixed and portable satellite solution – these accessories allow the sat phone to have a safe fixed docking point on the vessel with an external antenna to boost signal strength but can also easily be unclipped from the docking station for portable use.

For satellite phones both pre-paid and post-paid satellite airtime is available offering a range of options to suit different requirements.  Fixed satellite terminals require airtime packages on a post-paid basis although some will not charge a monthly fee meaning lower costs for those who will not be using their equipment regularly throughout the year.

There are many different equipment and airtime options available for marine users making satellite communications suitable for all budgets, locations and voice and data requirements.  Please contact us to discuss your requirements.

Global Telesat Communications supports the Jane Tomlinson Appeal with Iridium 9555 sat phones

On July 25th, Mike and Rebecca Tomlinson will set off on the Jane Tomlinson Appeal‘s latest challenge. Together with a team of fellow cyclists they will set off on a 2,500-mile bike ride from Istanbul to Leeds.

The Tomlinson family will be joined by family and friends who will also take on the challenge of travelling through 12 countries over 5 weeks. As they travel across Europe you will be able to watch their progress through daily blogs and the latest pictures.

The Appeal to date has raised £3million for children’s and cancer charities nationwide. Through this event they hope to get one step closer to their new fundraising target of £5million.

During their trip the Istanbul to Leeds team will be carrying 3 Iridium 9555’s provided by Global Telesat Communications to use in case of emergency when travelling through areas where traditional communications infrastructure does not exist.  Offering voice, fax and data services this sat phone is great for those needing to keep in touch frequently or just for emergency purposes - but we do hope that no emergency calls will be needed for the cyclists!

Wishing the team the best of luck…

Find out more about their journey: www.istanbultoleeds.co.uk

Members of the team cycling from Istanbul to Leeds to raise funds for the Jane Tomlinson Appeal
Members of the team cycling from Istanbul to Leeds to raise funds for the Jane Tomlinson Appeal

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.

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.