The End of the IsatPhone Pro?
Indeed, the popular satellite handset from Inmarsat will be discontinued in the near future.
IsatPhone Pro satellite phones will continue to work with the Inmarsat satellite array, but they will stop being supported by Inmarsat after a brief phasing out period. This means that firmware fixes will stop arriving at some point in the near future.
The good news? You can still use your current IsatPhone Pro without worrying that Inmarsat will stop service to it.
The bad news? Firmware updates may be slow to come (or non-existant), which can make doing data sessions more difficult going forward.
What Can You Do?
Is there anything you need to do? If you already have an IsatPhone Pro you can hang tight. Your phone will continue to function and you can continue to purchase airtime for it. As time goes by, it may be more and more difficult to get the satellite phone to connect to new computer equipment and devices, but for phone calls you should be able to use the IsatPhone Pro for a long time yet.
If you're looking for a satellite phone and were thinking of the IsatPhone Pro, we would probably steer you away from purchasing one now. There are other handheld options out there.
Alternatives to the IsatPhone Pro Satellite Phone
The first alternative that comes to mind is the IsatPhone 2. This is the natural successor to the IsatPhone Pro and works very similarly. If you are looking for voice connectivity with relatively good airtime rates, this is a good option.
Second would be an Iridium handheld satellite phone like the Iridium 9555 or Iridium Extreme. If you don't mind a bit more peripheral setup, you could go with the Iridium GO! Iridium airtime tends to be a bit more expensive than Inmarsat IsatPhone airtime, but not exponentially so. Iridium also has worldwide coverage, so you don't run into some of the signal issues Inmarsat users have in the far north and south.
Third is a Globalstar handheld like the GSP-1700. This is the least-expensive handheld satellite phone option on the market (currently at less than $500) and Globalstar airtime is very inexpensive.
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Iridium just announced a photo contest for Iridium GO! with a special grand prize: an Iridium GO! and 400 minutes of airtime. Here's what Iridium has to say:
Iridium is inviting its Facebook and Twitter users around the world to send photos of remote locations where they have used or will use an Iridium GO!
It’s easy to enter. Join us for the ride!
Think back to a situation where you were out of range of communication and needed to keep in touch with those back home. Iridium GO! is the world’s first ever global connection for voice and data communications, that lets you use your very own smartphone device. Texting, calling and accessing your favorite apps is now made possible with the new portable, rugged and compact Iridium GO!
This is an opportunity to win your very own Iridium GO! How do you enter? Simply show us “Everywhere You GO”!
How to Enter
Snap – What far off locations have you travelled outside cellular coverage and used an Iridium GO! to stay connected? Where will you travel next and plan to bring along an Iridium GO!? Take us on a trip with you! We want to see photos of remote locations and hear how an Iridium GO! was or will be used on your journey.
Post – Visit the My Iridium Facebook page from October 15th to November 28th, and upload your photo with your email address and a brief explanation of where the photo was taken. Tell us how Iridium GO! helped you stay connected with friends and family. Traveling somewhere soon? Tell us about the location and how beneficial it would be to have an Iridium GO!. Provide details for more chances to win!
Win – Weekly prizes consist of Iridium travel packs. The grand prize is a brand new Iridium GO! plus 400 minutes of airtime!
Share – Receive additional entries for the grand prize for every ‘like’ and ‘share’ your photo receives. Make sure to use the #EverywhereYouGO hashtag on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to increase your visibility into our contest.
That’s all there is to it. Now show us #EverywhereYouGO!
GMN is proud to announce brand-new Iridium satellite phone savings bundles for three of the most popular Iridium-based satellite phones and terminals. Our savings bundles give you everything you need to stay in touch and get the access you need to email, web, weather and social media - all at affordable prices, saving time and money. This month, we bring you three new savings bundles, all using the Iridium network, so you know that they’ll work anywhere you can see the sky. Choose from the new Iridium GO!, RedPort Aurora Iridium WiFi Terminal or Iridium Pilot Satellite Broadband terminal.
Iridium GO! Savings Bundle
Save $150! The Iridium GO! Satellite Phone and WiFi Hotspot now comes bundled with 200 minutes of Iridium prepaid minutes (with double data minutes!) and 3 months of XGate satellite email service so you can use the Iridium GO! with your smartphones, tablets, laptops, and computers. The Iridium GO! Savings Bundle includes:
- Iridium GO! Satellite Phone WiFi Hotspot
- Iridium GO! Protective Cover
- Iridium GO! USB Cable
- Iridium GO! Internal Battery
- Iridium GO! International AC Plug Kit with 4 Adapters
- Iridium GO! DC Adapter
- Iridium GO! Prepaid Airtime: 200 Minutes (with Double Data Minutes!)
- 3 Months of XGate Satellite Email Service
- XGate New Account Activation Fee (WAIVED!)
Learn more about the Iridium GO! Savings Bundle here.
RedPort Aurora Savings Bundle
Save $539! RedPort Aurora Iridium WiFi Terminal is bundled with airtime, email, and a handy 12V adapter. Aurora works with Iridium's flexible satellite airtime plans and data rates and offers you easy installation and use anywhere on the planet. Aurora is an all-in-one satellite WiFi phone that allows you to make satellite phone calls with your smartphone, send compression email, do GPS tracking, and more.
The RedPort Aurora Savings Bundle Includes:
- RedPort Aurora
- Aurora 12V DC to 48V Power Converter
- 75 Minutes of Iridium Prepaid Worldwide Airtime (with 2 Month Validity)
- Iridium Airtime $50 Activation Fee (WAIVED!)
- 3 Months of XGate Satellite Email Service
- XGate New Account Activation Fee (WAIVED!)
Learn more about the RedPort Aurora Savings Bundle here.
Iridium Pilot Savings Bundle
Save $300! Iridium Pilot Terminals provide access to reliable, affordable satellite broadband service using the Iridium OpenPort network. Access satellite broadband data service, and affordable postpaid and prepaid voice service from anywhere in the world.
The Iridium Pilot Savings Bundle Includes:
- Iridium Pilot Terminal with 20 m Antenna Cable
- Iridium Pilot BDU (Below-decks Unit)
- 2 Iridium Pilot Handsets
- Optimizer Satellite WiFi Hotspot and Firewall
- Free SIM Card for Iridium OpenPort Postpaid Airtime
- Two 45-minute Virtual GoChat Prepaid Voice Airtime Cards
- 12 Months of XGate Satellite Email Service
- 12 Months of XWeb Compression Web-browsing Service
- XGate New Account Activation (WAIVED!)
Learn more about the Iridium Pilot Savings Bundle here.
Other Iridium Savings Bundles
Although they're not new, they still make up some of the best-selling items at GMN. The Iridium 9555 Savings Bundle and the Iridium Extreme Savings Bundle combine popular Iridium handsets with satellite airtime, compression email, and a RedPort Optimizer satellite WiFi hotspot so that you can stay connected wherever you are on the planet.
See all GMN savings bundles here.
Not sure which satellite equipment and airtime is right for you? Feel free to sign up for a free satellite communications consultation. We'll help you walk through your options and figure out which satellite phone best fits your needs.
Inmarsat recently announced a change in its BGAN Link policy to specifically help NGOs and aid workers in the countries affected by Ebola.
BGAN Link A Popular Satellite Airtime Choice for NGOs
BGAN Link plans are affordable satellite broadband plans that were designed to provide satellite broadband internet to remote areas. The trick with BGAN Link plans, however, is that they have "fixed location" mobility restrictions on them. IE: you cannot move the BGAN unit around without Inmarsat cancelling your Link plan. BGAN Link units cannot move outside of a small geographic area as they were created for fixed land-based sites, not for mobile satellite internet. (There are plenty of options for BGAN mobile satellite internet, but they tend to be more expensive).
In response to the Ebola crisis in West Africa, however, Inmarsat has lifted the "fixed location" mobility restriction on BGAN Link plans being used in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea. If the outbreak spreads further than those countries, Inmarsat has committed to continuing to open the geographic areas of the BGAN Link plan users to allow them mobility to combat Ebola.
Complete mobility will be enabled on BGAN Link 3 and 12 Month plans in the countries currently affected by the Ebola outbreak.
This also applies to qualifying BGAN Link plans activated within the next six months - between now and the 31 March 2015 - and will expire when the plan subscribed to expires, or by the 31 March 2016, whichever comes first.
Remote Satellite Internet Connectivity with BGAN Link
We're glad to see Inmarsat jumping in to do what it can to help aid and NGO workers in West Africa. If you or your organization needs a BGAN unit and an airtime plan to support your work in rural and remote parts of the planet, please contact us to ask about how BGAN Link could work for you.
Iridium Introduces New Postpaid Satellite Airtime
As of September 1st, Iridium has a brand-new postpaid satellite airtime plan. They've reformulated their standard basic plan to include 10 minutes of satellite airtime and 10 SMS per month.
Why is this a big deal? It means that Iridium users with phones like Iridium Extreme and Iridium 9555 now have a better option for emergency or extremely low-use airtime, with the convenience of 10 minutes built-in to the plan per month (and at no extra cost over what the airtime cost before).
Postpaid airtime is when you sign up for a flat monthly fee in a yearly contract. Sometimes carriers will call this a subscription. Sometimes it's called "pay as you go." Postpaid plans have a 12 month commitment.
(For a more comprehensive look at the differences between prepaid and postpaid airtime, take a look at this blog post).
There are some definite advantages to postpaid satellite airtime over prepaid satellite airtime. Notably:
- Airtime always available. Because you pay for minutes as you use them (in this case, at the rate of $1.17 per minute after you've used the first 10 included in your monthly bundle), you will never reach a limit on your minutes, run out of them, or need to reload.
- No validity period. Same idea goes for the validity period. Since prepaid satellite airtime has definite validity periods for minutes, you lose them if you don't use them up or reload them within an exact time window. Didn't reload fast enough? They're gone. With postpaid you never have to worry about expiring minutes.
- Smaller upfront cost. With prepaid minutes, you need to pay for all your minutes upfront. For postpaid airtime, you pay as you go, which usually means that your bill at any one time is much lower than what you pay in one go for prepaid airtime.
- Better per-minute rate. Iridium prepaid per-minute rates depend on the amount of airtime you're buying, but tend to be in the $1.44 range. With postpaid airtime, you pay $1.17 per minute.
Iridium's postpaid basic plan works with the following satellite phones and terminals:
Iridium 9505a, 9505, and 9500
Guide Details How To Bring Your Own Device (Smartphone, Tablet Or Computer) To Access Satellite Voice, Email, Web, Weather, Social Media And Blogging Services
Maryville, TN (PRWEB) August 19, 2014
GMN, the leader in advancing satellite data speeds and services, today announced the release of a new Satellite BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) guide that covers everything needed to use a smartphone, tablet or laptop via a satellite connection, providing seamless coverage far beyond cellular. Satellite BYOD has come of age in 2014 with the availability of new satellite BYOD terminals including the Iridium GO!; Globalstar Sat-Fi; Thuraya SatSleeve, Inmarsat IsatHub; RedPort Optimizer and RedPort Aurora.
“GMN ignited the satellite BYOD revolution several years ago with the launch of the RedPort Optimizer, letting virtually any satellite phone work with the mobile devices people already have and love. Connect to the BYOD device via your own equipment to make calls, do email, post to social media, check the weather, and even web browse, depending on the unit,” said Dr. Luis Soltero, CTO of GMN. “This new generation of satellite BYOD devices gives people important and varied options. GMN created this clear comparison document to simplify the selection process and help people understand which equipment best meets their needs.”
“BYOD: The Bring Your Own Device Satellite Revolution” covers everything a user needs to know to understand this new way of connecting with the world, including:
- What is satellite BYOD
- Satellite BYOD advantages
- Satellite BYOD pros and cons
- How does satellite BYOD work?
- Satellite BYOD terminals
- Satellite BYOD applications
- Satellite BYOD airtime
- Satellite BYOD user groups
- Satellite BYOD comparison charts
- Satellite BYOD users
“Whether you are a single sailor wanting to use your iPad for navigation at sea, a crew member needing to check email from home, or on the bridge and using your smartphone for intra-crew communication on a ship, BYOD has options for you,” continued Dr. Soltero.
Satellite consumers, retailers and service providers can download the satellite BYOD guide at no charge by visiting http://web.globalmarinenet.com/byod-satellite-wifi-equipment/.
About Global Marine Networks, LLC
Global Marine Networks (GMN), the leaders in advancing satellite data speeds and services, helps Fixed and Mobile Satellite Services providers and their customers by offering the industry’s fastest, most reliable and easy-to-use satellite email, web, and other hardware and software services to maritime, oil and gas, first responder and business continuity users. The company’s products include XGate high-speed satellite email, WeatherNet weather and oceanographic data software, and vessel tracking systems.
Ship to shore network management solutions are sold by GMN under the RedPort Global brand name athttp://www.redportglobal.com and as white-label solutions for the world’s premier satellite data service providers.
GMN has numerous awards and certifications for technical innovation and holds pending patents on its products. For more information on how GMN is Making Airtime Count™ – whether ship to shore, or in remote or emergency communications environments visit http://www.globalmarinenet.com.
Inmarsat has quietly announced IsatPhone burn rate and price increases for both prepaid and postpaid airtime.
We've contacted our GMN customers about the increases (haven't heard from us? Please let us know).
We had heard about this awhile back, but now it's certain: your IsatPhone airtime is going up.
The tricky thing here is that Inmarsat isn't grandfathering in any existing minutes or plans. That's right. It doesn't matter if you bought your airtime back when airtime was even less expensive than it is now: your airtime is going up.
How IsatPhone Pro Prepaid Airtime Will Change
For prepaid customers, what changes is not the price you paid (that's not going to change) but what Inmarsat calls the burn rate.
Right now the burn rate for IsatPhone Pros is 1 unit = 1 minute of talk time. Buying a 25 unit prepaid airtime card means that you get 25 minute of talk time. Easy, right?
Starting September 1st, the burn rate is going to go from 1 unit = 1 minute to 1.3 units = 1 minute. So that same 25 unit prepaid airtime card is going to get you 19 minutes of talk time, instead of the 25 minutes you get right now.
How IsatPhone Pro Postpaid Airtime Will Change
IsatPhone Pro postpaid airtime isn't going to have a burn-rate increase...but prices are going up. Inmarsat is also discontinuing their postpaid humanitarian plans.
Price changes are expected to be as follows (subject to change):
IsatPhone Pro Standard Plan
Current price: $33.95 per month
New price: $39.99 per month
IsatPhone Pro Allowance 20
Current price: $39.95
New price: $46.99 per month
IsatPhone Pro Allowance 60
Current price: $61.95
New price: No change
What Can You Do To Avoid the Price Increases?
There is an option available to avoid the airtime price increases and burn-rate increases:
- Use all your airtime before September 1st.
We’re experts at satellite airtime and can help make sure you have the right plan. For more information about the specific plans and rates offered by the carriers, feel free to get in contact with us.
Inmarsat has released a new firmware update for the IsatPhone Pro that fixes an issue with the GPS system as well as some other minor bugs.
This new firmware is 5.6.1.
You can download the new firmware update at the Inmarsat support site.
Did You Upgrade Your IsatPhone With the Recent Mandatory Firmware Update?
Back in January, Inmarsat released news that any IsatPhone Pro that hadn't upgraded to firmware version 5.3.0 or above would cease to work with the new network improvements scheduled for later this year.
Firmware version 5.6.1 supersedes the mandatory firmware versions 5.3.0 and 5.5.1 that were released recently.
The operational changes to the network are currently scheduled for November 28th, 2014, so make sure you upgrade your firmware soon if you still have an older firmware running on your IsatPhone Pro - otherwise you could find yourself without a working satellite phone.
You can check if you have the latest version on your IsatPhone Pro, by going to Menu > Settings > About > Firmware version.
Please note that the Inmarsat firmware update tool is for Windows systems only. Please contact us for information regarding upgrading on Mac or Linux machines.
Does your Iridium satellite phone still show the wrong time, even though you thought you fixed the problem?
Iridium occasionally needs to reset its timers on the satellites - a process called re-epoching. They did this on June 17th, 2014.
The direct result of this, other than Iridium satellites having the correct time going forward, is that all Iridium handheld satellite phones suddenly start displaying the wrong date and time.
There was a fix to this, but if you didn't get around to it your procrastination has paid off - Iridium just announced that they are "rolling back" the re-epoch.
This means that if you didn't do anything at all, and your date and time were looking wonky, they'll go back to looking normal again.
If you went ahead and entered in the sequence of numbers necessary to change your date/time - we're sorry. You've got to go through a similar process to roll-back the time change.
How to Roll-Back The Bad Date/Time On Your Phone
Those 9555/Iridium Extreme handsets that did enter the provided key sequence for the June 17th reepoch will be impacted on June 30th. They will need to enter the following key sequence:
• Dial *#99#2007030803502100#, press the green key and power cycle
Additionally, those 9505A handsets that manually changed the time/date setting will also need to follow the same instructions to update the date/time again on June 30th.
Will The Re-Epoch Happen Again?
Yes. Iridium has to re-epoch their satellites every 2 to 3 years. There was apparently an issue this time around with compatibility for some of their services, so they've rolled back the re-epoch until that can be sorted out. They are tentatively planning to re-re-epoch in January, 2015.
Just in time for summer, the Globalstar Sat-Fi is out. The mysterious Sat-Fi, mentioned once by Globalstar early in 2014 and never spoken of since, has been released! Globalstar pulled a Beyoncé with this one by introducing a brand-new satellite phone and making it available for sale on the exact same day.
That's right - the Sat-Fi is available for sale.
What Is The Globalstar Sat-Fi?
The Globalstar Sat-Fi is a satellite WiFi and VoIP hotspot that allows you to make satellite calls over your smartphone, send and receive compression email, and post to popular social media sites.
With Sat-Fi, you can use your existing smartphones to send and receive voice or data communications via the Globalstar network, offering seamless voice and data connectivity when beyond the range of cellular. User can port over their existing phone numbers or use a newly assigned US-based number.
Through a convenient app and Sat-Fi satellite WiFi hot spot, subscribers will be able to easily send and receive calls, email and SMS text messages anywhere within Globalstar’s footprint from their own device.
Globalstar Sat-Fi Apps
Easily connect your WiFi-enabled device to the Sat-Fi device with the custom, convenient apps. Sat-Fi allows you to send and receive fast, compressed email, post to social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, and browse the web with compression increasing your speed by 3 x 5 times.
The Sat-Fi Voice app allows you to make phone calls from your smartphone, using your contacts, over the Globalstar network.
The Sat-Fi Apps:
- Are available for Android, Apple iOS, Mac and Windows and allow you to easily make voice calls, send emails, SMS & post to social media.
- The Sat-Fi Voice app conveniently uses existing device contacts and allows you to transfer incoming calls and send text messages between connected users.
- Sat-Fi's S.O.S. alert capability** with GPS location data can send critical information to emergency responders. (** SOS coming soon).
Sat-Fi and XGate
XGate works perfectly with the Globalstar Sat-Fi. Get the compression, ease of use, and airtime savings with XGate, the leading independent satellite email provider.
Why Is the Sat-Fi A Game Changer?
With the Sat-Fi we're seeing the fruition of the BYOD generation of satellite devices ("Bring Your Own Device"). These devices allow you to use your own smartphones, tablets, and (sometimes) laptops and computers to connect to your satellite connection via WiFi. Many providers, like Iridium with the Iridium GO! and Inmarsat with the IsatHub, are introducing new products this summer. There's a right unit for everybody - call or email for a free consultation to find out which one is for you.
When Is The Sat-Fi Available?
The Sat-Fi is available now! You can get it immediately in our online store or read more about it at the dedicated info page.