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Inmarsat Removes "Fixed Location" Restriction on BGAN Link Plans in West Africa

  
  
  

BGAN Hughes 9202Inmarsat 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. 

 

 

New Iridium Postpaid Basic Plan for Postpaid Satellite Airtime

  
  
  

Iridium Introduces New Postpaid Satellite Airtime

iridium postpaid worldwideAs 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). 

Why Postpaid?

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.  
Sound like a good plan to you? Check out the brand new Iridium postpaid basic plan now

Compatible Equipment

Iridium's postpaid basic plan works with the following satellite phones and terminals:

Iridium Extreme
RedPort Aurora
Iridium 9555
Iridium 9505a, 9505, and 9500
BEAM RST100
SC4000 

 


iridium postpaid basic plan resized 600

Satellite BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) Explained In New Guide At GMN

  
  
  

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

BYOD Guide to Iridium GO! Globalstar Sat-FiGMN, 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 IsatPhone Airtime Rate Increases

  
  
  

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). 

IsatPhone Pro Airtime Price Increase

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:

  1. Use all your airtime before September 1st. 

Have Questions?

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

New IsatPhone Pro Firmware Update: Fix for GPS and Other Issues

  
  
  

IsatPhone Pro Firmware Update 5.5.1Inmarsat 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. 

Your Iridium Handheld May Still Have the Incorrect Date/Time

  
  
  


Iridium ExtremeDoes 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. 


iridium satellite phones blog ctaIridium Satellite Phone AirtimeAurora Iridium Satellite WiFi Terminal

Globalstar Sat-Fi: It's New, It's Available, and It's Awesome

  
  
  

Globalstar Sat-Fi

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

Globalstar Sat-FiWhat 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.

Sat-Fi Apple IconThe 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

Massive Theft of Satellite Phones from Retailer in Miami

  
  
  

On Monday night on June 16th, thieves broke into a Miami-based retailer of satellite phones and marine electronics and made off with over $300,000 worth of equipment. 

The thieves were able to break into the store without setting off an alarm because they quite literally broke a hole in the wall and climbed through.

Miami Satellite Phone Theft

The thieves spend over 3 hours in the store methodically searching through inventory and equipment, apparently corresponding with an outsider via cellphone the whole time. 

You can see video coverage of the break-in and analysis of the theft from NBC Miami here

What Does This Mean For Customers?

It's pretty safe to guess that the market may soon be flooded with cheap, new satellite phones. While it's always a good idea to be cautious if a deal seems "too good to be true" it's especially important in this case. 

Buyer Beware

Satellite carriers will work with this retailer to completely block those satellite phones and equipment from working at all.

Because each piece of equipment has a unique identifier that associates it back through the supply chain and is identifiable by the satellite companies when airtime is activated for the equipment, customers may end up with a completely locked satellite phone. If this happens, the satellite phone is useless for anything more than keeping your papers from blowing away in the breeze.

It's also highly unlikely that customers will be able to get their money back on a fraudulent transaction as thieves are notoriously good as disappearing into thin air as soon as a customer disputes a transaction.

Conclusion? Do research before purchasing a phone that seems to good to be true. (And check out GMN's phone savings bundles for savings you can count on).

Potential IsatPhone Pro Airtime Price Increase!

  
  
  

IsatPhone Pro Airtime IncreaseIsatPhone airtime is currently one of the most affordable satellite airtime on the market. At about $1 a minute, with very low increments available (starting at 25 units - or 25 minutes), the airtime is a great way to keep connected almost everywhere on the planet.

But will it increase in early fall of 2014? 

Nothing can stay low forever. Rumors have Inmarsat increasing pricing by as much as 30% later on this year. Currently, Inmarsat's IsatPhone voice minutes translate roughly as 1 unit = $1. 

How to beat the system: Get your IsatPhone airtime and activate it while you still have access to their great per-minute pricing! 

Check out the Inmarsat IsatPhone airtime here and get the savings before its too late. 

 

 

How to Get Weather Files Over Satellite: The Basics

  
  
  
GRIB Weather File

The best way to get weather information over satellite is to download GRIB files. Wikipedia defines GRIBS this way:

GRIB (Gridded Binary) General Regularly-distributed Information in Binary form is a concise data format commonly used in meteorology to store historical and forecast weather data.

Concise is the important part. You’ll be downloading these files over satellite, so they need to be small. Then you can view them with GRIB viewer software that turns those little spits of data into the oceanographic and atmospheric forecasts that you need.

Part I: Satellite Systems for Downloading Weather Files

The very first step in order to get GRIB weather files over satellite is having a satellite system. Which one is right for you depends a lot on your individual needs. We recommend checking out the Blue Water Cruising Communication Guide for a great overview of the different systems.

Regardless of which satellite system you get, you should be able to download GRIB files. Sending data over a satellite link requires stronger signal than making a voice call. For most handheld satellite systems, having an external antenna for that phone is strongly recommended for downloading GRIB files or emails. 

Other systems, like BGAN, Fleetbroadband, or Iridium Pilot all have the power and capability to very quickly download GRIB files.

Once you have your satellite system and external antenna if you need it, you'll need to choose an airtime plan.

Here is a blog post on prepaid vs postpaid airtime to help with that choice.

Now, let's get to the GRIB files. 

Part II: Ways to Get GRIB Weather Files 

Free GRIB Files

Option 1 - Free GRIB Files

There are free services out there that send GRIB files to your email address (we have one such service, you can read more about it here). These are simple wind GRIB files and the email request to the GRIB service can be quite complicated to configure. While there is no charge for the files themselves, note that they require airtime to download and connection costs to send/receive the GRIB requests. XGate service can reduce the airtime by a factor of 15-20 times on average. For even better reduction of airtime, consider a dedicated service like WeatherNet.

WeatherNet: Weather On Demand for SatelliteOption 2 - WeatherNet Weather On Demand Service (Mac/Windows)

WeatherNet is a GRIB file download service that has a very easy to use interface and an incredibly robust library of weather information to choose from. You basically draw a square of your location on a map, click on the types of weather files you want to download, and hit the "submit" button. WeatherNet will retrieve those files and return them to you in a single connection. WeatherNet costs $99 a year for the service. Additionally, you need to purchase prepaid data cards (I would recommend the one for $75) that you deduct your GRIB files from.

Here is a blog post looking at the price difference between downloading free GRIB files and using WeatherNet.

WeatherTrackOption 3 - GRIB Files for iPhone, iPad, or Android

There are programs out there that fetch GRIB files and load them on your iOS or Android mobile device. There are options for iOS like WeatherTrack and iNavX that are "XGate Aware" meaning that they integrate with XGate functionality to decrease airtime costs.

Here is a blog post on 7 ways to get GRIB files on iPad or Android.

Option 4 - Web-browsing To Find GRIB Files

This is NOT RECOMMENDED! Keep in mind that over a handheld satellite phone, it typically takes around 70 minutes to open up a single web-page. (Even running compression it would still take around 25 minutes to open up a single page). 

Finding the file you're looking for and downloading it is simply too expensive and time-consuming. 

Even over a broadband device, you would be looking at airtime charges in the MB range ($7-$21, depending on your plan and provider) vs a couple of cents for downloading a GRIB file via email. 

Part III: Viewing GRIB Weather Files 

GRIB Explorer GRIB ViewerGRIB Viewer

No matter where you get your GRIB files from, you will need a software program called a GRIB viewer in order to decode the GRIB data and display the visual weather data.

For Windows and Mac, we sell an excellent one called GRIB Explorer

For iOS devices like iPhone and iPad, many GRIB retrieval services like GRIB Explorer+, WeatherTrack, and iNavX all have built-in GRIB viewers - you don't need to download additional software in order to view GRIB files when using those programs. 

For Android, there are many different options. We recommend looking in the Google Play store for "GRIB viewer" and test any free versions before committing to purchase. 

Still Need Help?

We'd be happy to recommend the perfect satellite communications equipment and airtime for your needs. You can get a free satellite communications consultation or just give us a ring at +1.877.379.8723 (US) or +1.865.379.8723 (Intl) - we're here to help!


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