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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?


  • Ed Wildgoose

    Ed Wildgoose


    Quote: "Iridium offers a data speed of 9.6kbps"

    No it doesn't... Not even close...

    You get around 2.4kb (2,400 baud, or 300 characters/sec) out of an Iridium. This assumes a clear view of the sky and perfect 5 bar signal strength...


    Quote: "a satellite phone will suffice and will be a much cheaper alternative to BGAN"

    An Iridium phone at around the £1,000 mark is hardly "much cheaper" than a BGAN at around the £1,000 mark?? For sure one of the Thuraya phones comes in somewhat cheaper, but your generalisation is somewhat inaccurate?

    Quote: "Every Iridium ... that we stock is capable of sending emails directly from the phone"

    Meaning that the Iridium can send SMS messages and if you send the SMS to a special number then you can kind of send a 160 character email (that 160 character limit includes the recipients email address). I think it's somewhat disingenuous to claim this is the same as "sending emails from the phone" which usually implies a normal email from a normal email address which can be replied to, etc?

    • JennaPhipps



      Ed, thank you for your comments and we respond to each one in turn below.

      With regards to the Iridium data speed perhaps we should have made it clearer that as stated on the Iridium website “Dial-Up Data is capable of 2.4 Kbps; Direct Internet Data is capable of up to 10 Kbps with compression. Dial-Up Data allows a user to connect directly to their Internet Service Provider or a Corporate Network. Direct Internet Data connects the user directly to the Internet through the Iridium Gateway.”

      With our BGAN terminals starting from £1,200 the Iridium 9555 is still a cheaper option. The sat phone option could definitely be classed as “much cheaper” if you choose the Thuraya SO-2510 priced at just £420.00.

      Thank you for pointing this out, but Iridium 9555 users can now send and receive long SMS texts up to 1,000 characters in length to an e-mail address or mobile phone which is enough for most users. However you are correct in stating that the message is sent as an SMS but it is delivered as an email to the receiver.

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