Spotlight on Gerry Hughes: The First Deaf Man to Solo Circumnavigate the World

GTC customer Gerry Hughes this week completed a hugely impressive feat and achieved his lifelong ambition to become the world’s first deaf person to solo circumnavigate the world via the five southernmost capes. Gerry Hughes is 55 years old and his challenge began over eight months ago when he set sail from Troon Marina in South Ayrshire on the 1st September 2012. He spent 210 days alone at sea on his 42ft yacht ‘Quest III’ and sailed over 32,000 miles before returning to Troon yesterday to a crowd of hundreds of well-wishers and an audience of over 20,000 people who were watching the moment he landed via a live internet link.

gerry hughes photo 2Unfortunately the journey was not all plain sailing and Gerry had to deal with terrible weather conditions and high winds that led to colossal waves and one of the most dramatic episodes in his journey where he capsized and feared for his life; thankfully he was able recover the situation and completed his challenge despite this close call.

Gerry hopes to become an inspiration for young deaf people by proving that the obstacles they may face can be overcome. Considering that this was not the first of his sailing achievements, as he became the first deaf skipper to sail around the British Isles in 1981, there is no doubt that he has achieved this goal and is in fact an inspiration to us all.

According to his Facebook page Gerry spent last night enjoying his heroes welcome in The Harbour Bar, sipping pints of Guinness which he had sorely missed throughout the voyage and sharing countless stories of his adventure. He was also presented with a special award from the Ocean Cruising Club to commemorate his achievement.

Mr Hughes said: “The last eight months have been among the toughest of my life but despite all the challenges of the expedition, it has been a period I have thoroughly enjoyed. I hope that following and completing my dream can encourage young people who face similar difficulties to see that their hopes and aspirations can still be fulfilled through belief and hard work. The support I have received has also played a huge part in completing this voyage and it is wonderful to be reunited with my wife and daughters who have undoubtedly endured as many highs and lows as I have during the period of my challenge.”

Gerry used our ‘Thrane & Thrane Sailor 150 Satellite Terminal’ to fulfil reporting requirements, diagnose faults and to connect to the internet; making it possible for him to communicate with the 3,500 supporters following his progress on his Facebook page whilst at sea. The Sailor 150 Terminal uses Inmarsat’s global network
to provide voice and data services to sailors all over the world. We are proud to have been able to help him to achieve this historic accomplishment and look forward to being involved in any of his future endeavours.

gerry hughes photo

Gerry and his proud wife Kay

Using Iridium and Thuraya satellite phones for data connection

For those who frequently require internet connection in remote locations using a satellite terminal on the Inmarsat BGAN satellite network is a good choice with their portable terminals, fast data speeds and very reliable service.

But what about those who will only occasionally want to use a data connection while in remote locations?  It is little known that satellite phones can also provide data services.  Although the speed will not be as fast as Inmarsat BGAN, if you only require need data services every now and then, a satellite phone will suffice and will be a much cheaper alternative to BGAN.  Every Iridium and Thuraya sat phone that we stock is capable of sending emails directly from the phone and the Thuraya SG-2520 even has an in-built browser meaning you don’t need to connect to your laptop to use the internet.

Iridium offers a data speed of 9.6kbps and each Iridium 9555 comes with a USB cable to connect to your laptop making data connections with your sat phone very simple.  Thuraya’s basic data service offers speeds of up to 9.6kbps.  However, their GmPRS service offers enhanced speeds of up to 60kbps (downlink) at an additional fee making data connections with your satellite phone more viable.  With GmPRS you are charged by the volume of data you send and receive rather than the duration of the data call (as is the case with Thuraya’s basic data service).  Uplink speeds are available at up to 15kbps.  The GmPRS service is available on both post-paid and pre-paid data SIM cards.

As with Iridium phones, all Thuraya phones come with the data cables required to set-up your data connection quickly and easily. 

So if you need to send and receive emails or browse the web while on the move a satellite phone could be just what you need.  If you are not sure whether a sat phone or a satellite terminal would best  suit your needs why not contact us with your questions?

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.

The role of satellite communications in Haiti

When natural disasters such as hurricanes, earthquakes and tsunamis strike, traditional fixed and wireless communications are often destroyed making satellite communications essential in the recovery of the affected area.  Nowhere is this currently more apparent than in Haiti where satellite phones and data terminals are being used around the clock to aid the various aid agencies in their work as well as being used by journalists streaming news reports from the area.

According to Urgent Communications speaking with Iridium’s vice president of data services, Patrick Shay, Iridium voice traffic in Haiti has increased from 100 minutes per day to around 40,000 minutes per day since the earthquake hit on January 12.  Likewise Inmarsat’s chief executive Andrew Sukawaty said in an interview with the BBC that they have seen a dramatic increase in traffic in Haiti since the earthquake and are adding channels and capacity in the area to ensure they can keep up with demand.

Global Telesat Communications have helped equip international aid agency Humanity First with the Wideye Sabre 1 satellite terminal for both voice and data communications using Inmarsat BGAN while they are in Haiti.  To add to the medical team of 14 already in Haiti, a further team of 21 arrived on January 24 to support hospital teams and assist in refugee camps.

As with previous natural disasters, satellite communications are proving to be vital in the aftermath of the event and can hopefully enhance the work that aid agencies are carrying out to improve the situation in Haiti as soon as possible.