In the summer of 2012, Iridium released its redesigned OpenPort broadband unit (now called the Pilot), Inmarsat juggled around its pricing structure for its FleetBroadband service, and we realized that for the first time in the history of the maritime satellite industry, satellite broadband was within the financial reach of most maritime cruisers.
Because after crunching numbers, comparing plans, and looking at usage rates we saw that broadband satellite units offered some of the cheapest data and airtime costs around.
And not just cheap, but really cheap. At a conservative estimate, at least ten times less expensive than a handheld device like an Iridium 9555 or 9575 for similar usage. For an initial higher upfront cost, the savings from voice and data services multiply. The savings flow like the hull over a smooth sea.
We realize that many people don't even consider a broadband unit for their communication needs while cruising. Broadband satellite has long been known for dishes the size of cars, installation necessitating crews of people, and data costs that run in the tens of thousands per month.
But with units like the Iridium Pilot, the power, speed, and ease-of-use associated with high-end broadband units is now possible for individual cruisers.
It’s certain that satellite broadband, like so much in the satellite industry, is confusing, complicated, and about as straightforward as driving in Rome.
So we broke it all down, shook out our number crunching and comparisons, and put it all together in an easy-to-read guide.
An ultimate guide.
, in fact.
Check it out and let us know what you think. We're pretty thrilled about satellite broadband, and we think you'll be too, especially when you see just how much money is saved on data and voice.
Hear what a multi year, multi trip live aboard cruiser has to say about his family's experience with the Iridium OpenPort (now Iridium Pilot) broadband satellite device for homeschooling, business and emergency connections at sea.
Magnus Murphy reveals how the Iridium Pilot with XGate Satellite Email and XWeb compression services allowed his two daughters to successfully homeschool while he negotiated a sabattical to publish a medical book that was completed via this technology.
Learn the real truth about using WiFi at anchor in remote locations while jockeying for positions with other cruisers. Hear his take on ease of installation, reasonable airtime costs, web browsing at sea, impact on saftey, and most importantly the long term reduction of anxiety associated with instant connection in times of need. Listen to Magnus Murphy now!
For an in-depth look at satellite broadband options for cruisers, feel free to check out
. It contains tons of information regarding the Iridium Pilot, cost comparisons between broadband units, and savings estimations for typical use.
Additionally you may want to take a look at the Iridium Pilot Blue Water Package for $1,252 of immediate savings and 1000 minutes of free prepaid voice airtime.
Have a comment? Let us know about something you learned that was helpful.
GMN brings RedPort routers with crew-calling, on-board Internet café services and satellite email access to Iridium OpenPort satellite broadband service for commercial marine communications
MARYVILLE, TN January 17, 2010 – Global Marine Networks (GMN) the leaders in advancing satellite data speeds and services, today announced its appointment as a Global Distribution Partner for the Iridium OpenPort service and Iridium Pilot hardware. GMN will make the products and services available with its RedPort routers and suite of value-added satellite data services to the commercial and recreational maritime markets and to RedPort distributors.
“The truly global coverage of the Iridium OpenPort platform, along with the reliable and affordable Iridium Pilot terminals, make for an attractive product for the maritime market”, said Dr. Luis Soltero, CTO of GMN and RedPort Global. “Together with GMN RedPort services, Iridium makes an excellent choice for maritime customers in virtually any application – crew calling, on-board Internet café services, satellite email access and much more.”
For ships large and small, the Iridium OpenPort broadband service offers highly reliable broadband voice and data communications priced to fit any budget. Connected to the world's largest and only truly global commercial communication network, providing pole-to-pole coverage for ships at sea, it works everywhere on the planet.
Iridium Pilot hardware is engineered for enhanced durability to withstand the harshest maritime conditions, all the while packaged in a small, lightweight antenna. It has a fixed, electronically-steerable, phased-array antenna, designed to maintain connectivity in rough seas. Iridium Pilot offers broadband connectivity in addition to three independent phone lines, all of which work simultaneously, with data speeds up to 134 Kbps.
RedPort Global is a GMN brand that offers powerful yet affordable maritime satellite network management services - letting maritime satellite customers get the most out of their satellite data service through a host of features including:
- Satellite data compression gives up to five times faster data speeds than uncompressed rates
- Pin codes let customers generate new revenue by sharing or selling unique pin codes to crews, clients or passengers
- Usage controls can limit groups or individual users by time, megabytes, or web site white/black listing
- Firewall filtering by MAC or TCP/IP address and/or port number provide advanced controls
- Seamless failover service redirects data feeds giving users the ultimate reliability of changing between different satellite networks on the fly
- Data bonding - doubles data throughput while increasing reliability
- Shared onboard caching provides fast load times for commonly visited sites
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 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 at http://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 www.globalmarinenet.com.
Recently GMN received the following email about installing and using the Optimizer with an Iridium phone for email and weather at sea. We think it has great value and received permission to reprint it verbatim. Enjoy!
I just wanted to follow up with you on the install of the Optimizer for our Iridium phone and thank you for your recommendation. After struggling with connecting my MacBook to the Iridium phone via RS-232, I decided to take your advice and purchase the Optimizer instead. It was a breeze to install and worked right away! Great product, and along with the XGate service, I'm really happy that we can now stay in touch with family and get our weather files while offshore.
Here's a blog post about my experience with your products: http://zangeziatlarge.com/2012/07/23/email-access-at-sea/
s/v Zangezi, Brisbane, Australia
The blog follows:
I’m happy to report that we now have a solution up and running on-board Zangezi for sending and receiving email and downloading weather data while at sea. This is a project that I have been working on for some time, and required quite a bit of research and experimentation to arrive at our final solution.
I originally looked into using one of the new satellite broadband systems but the data transfer charges (around $15/megabyte) were just not practical, so in the end I decided to stick with our existing Iridium phone and install a data gateway and email compression software from Global Marine Networks (GMN).
Testing the satellite email system. The little white box next to the computer is the Optimizer. The Iridium handset is at the right hand side of the photo. The XGate software is running on my MacBook.
This solution uses a data interface between any computer (or iPad) running the XGate email software and an Iridium phone, plus an email account and subscription to the GMN email service. Our Iridium phone has an RS-232 data port, so I originally tried using a USB-Serial adapter between the MacBook and the phone, but I had a lot of problems getting it running, and I didn’t like the idea of having to keep the drivers and software for the USB-Serial adapter up to date on my computer, so instead I tried a new product from GMN they call an Optimizer.
The Optimizer handles the serial communication with the Iridium phone, and knows how to connect to the XGate email service. It has a built in WiFi interface so any computer or iPad/iPhone can connect to it over WiFi. Once connected, I use the XGate software to handle reading, writing, sending and receiving email. XGate provides compression and attachment management so it reduces the connection times needed over the sat phone, so is quite economical. The Optimizer also blocks any non XGate network traffic, so virus scan programs and the infamous Adobe updater can’t establish an expensive and unnecessary data connection to the Internet. The installation of the Optimizer was super easy, and everything just worked with no hassles or complicated configuration.
Here’s the Optimizer installed in its permanent home in the cupboard under the Nav Station. The cable at the bottom runs over to the Iridium transceiver RS-232 port.
This solution won’t work for browsing the Internet (it’s just not fast enough) but it will allow us to keep in touch with our family and friends and download weather forecasts. And since Iridium has global satellite coverage, we can stay connected no matter how remote we happen to be.
Luis Soltero, CTO Global Marine Networks Comments:
As stated in the blog web browsing over iridium can be challenging. The Iridium link runs at a nominal raw rate of 2400 bps which means that you can transfer a total of 15 Kbytes or so per minute. With web sites these days being large (cnn.com is 1.2Mbytes) this means that it is not practical to use this technology to browse the internet.
Having said that it is possible to do limited web browsing. GMN's XWeb product provides up to 5x acceleration for browsing. This means that the amount of data transferred from a webserver over iridium when using XWeb can be on 75Kbytes. This allows for reasonable browsing of many mobile sites including m.cnn.com. The home page for mobile cnn usually displays in about 30 seconds when using iridium.
Also, websites which don't have much graphics or are mostly textual can also be browsed without too much difficulty.
So... it is possible to browse the internet using XWeb, Optimizer, and Iridium if users spend some time selecting which sites are valuable enough to expend the airtime on.
On April 27, 2012, Iridium announced a replacement program to address a problem with the Iridium Extreme Satellite Phone (9575). The company is voluntarily replacing all Iridium Extreme phones due to an internal antenna sensor problem that can cause the phone to malfunction. Please note this does NOT affect the Iridium 9555 satellite phone.
Today one of our best customers called us very concerned about the recall. He was leaving for a 25 day sailing passage to Tahiti and didn't have time to complete the Iridium Extreme recall process before he left.
What to do? Fortunately Luis Soltero was able to discover an Iridium engineer-endorsed work around.
Iridium Extreme Antenna Problem
The replacement program was initiated due to a mechanical element on the antenna stem of the Iridium Extreme that triggers a deployment sensor with insufficient tolerances which is leading to instances of the sensor not working as designed. In plain English, it seems that the phone doesn't always properly recognize the antenna, and so the phone won't work.
Iridium Extreme Antenna Work-around
First, you should take up Iridium on the replacement as soon as possible. But what if you need to use your phone before you can get a replacement? Fortunately, there are two easy work-arounds.
1) Using an external antenna bypasses the internal antenna and thus circumvents the problem. All Iridium Extreme phones ship together with an external antenna in the box. Simply use the external antenna, and you will not experience the problem.
2) Using any docking station that bypasses the internal antenna will also eliminate the problem, buying you valuable time to use your phone.
The full text of the Iridium announcment is below, and available as a pdf document from Iridium "Iridium Extreme Replacement Program."
We're pleased to see Iridium stand behind their equipment, take responsibility, and act quickly to replace affected phones.
Iridium Extreme® Replacement Program
On Friday April 27th, 2012, Iridium announced a replacement program for the Iridium Extreme®. The replacement program was initiated due to a mechanical element on the antenna stem of the Iridium Extreme that triggers a deployment sensor with insufficient tolerances which is leading to instances of the sensor not working as designed. The problem was traced to a vendor manufacturing process and has since been rectified.
Iridium has identified several possible impacts to the use of the phone, and we estimate that a significant number of shipped units may be currently affected. One possible result of this mechanical issue is that a customer is still able to make calls and send messages but the phone’s performance may be reduced even if the antenna is fully extended. Another possible result is that the unit may operate at a power level exceeding the equipment’s authorized FCC radio frequency limits unless the antenna is fully extended. If the customer must use the phone out of necessity prior to its replacement under this recall, the customer needs to follow proper handset use guidelines as specified in the User Guide and ensure that the antenna is extended during all calls.
This issue may not impact all units; however, due to the nature of the issue, Iridium strongly requests that customers contact their Iridium Service Provider to determine the replacement procedure for their Iridium Extreme phone. Iridium has implemented the fix for this issue and is restarting production immediately. We are very confident that Iridium Extreme phones manufactured going forward will perform to specification and be of high level production quality.
We sincerely regret this occurrence and apologize for the impact on our customers, partners and distributors operations and any issues with using the phone in the field. Iridium is taking swift actions to assist with the replacement of Iridium Extreme phones in partners’ inventory and in the hands of customers and we expect to have all recalled units replaced within 2 months.
The Iridium Extreme is the most capable and highly featured satellite phone on the market and it is Iridium’s intent to resolve this issue as quickly as possible. Thank you for your continued support and we remain confident that all will benefit greatly from the features and the capabilities unique to the Iridium Extreme.
Note: The Iridium 9555 is not affected by this issue and we have both sufficient inventory and have increased production to assist in meeting your demands for Iridium satellite phones.
Understanding what makes compressed satellite phone web browsing practical and affordable can be confusing. Some help is in order when you consider the complexity of the equipment, compression, latency, the type of page being downloaded, encryption, links, math and money. There are many ways to go, but we can help point you in the right direction.
Read on to learn the different directions you can take to browse the web with XGate over handheld satellite phones and broadband equipment.
Here's the executive summary:
1. Handheld satellite phone data service -
With Xweb services and the Optimizer, it is possible to browse the web over handheld satellite phones like the Iridium 9555 or (less so) IsatPhone Pro - but it can be prohibitively expensive, even with compression. In certain cases some still choose to purchase compression based web services for handheld phones with the understanding that the cost is high, both in dollars spent and airtime consumed.
2. "Always-on" satellite broadband service -
Satellite broadband service (Inmarsat FleetBroadband, BGAN, Iridium OpenPort, Thuraya IP) can cost more up front in hardware, but overall is more desirable, efficient and affordable, when used with a satellite firewall and Wi-Fi device like Optimizer and XWeb web acceleration service.
Here's the details:
The standard for comparison is old-fashioned dial up rate which is 56 kbps (kilobits per second) with a latency of .1 seconds. This standard is used because no matter how you cut it, even compressed satellite phone web browsing is SLOW.
The Iridium stated uncompressed data transfer rate is 2.4 KBps or 2400 Baud. With the Optimizer this goes up to 2.8-2.9 kbps without compression.
Iridium latency is 1.4 seconds. Latency is the time it takes for airtime turn arounds and is often referred to as dead airtime.
XWeb compression will afford 3-5x faster browsing. So what does all this mean?
56kbps/2.7 = 20.7 times slower data transfers over satellite before compression. After compression it is 6.9 to 4.2 times slower than dial up. BUT you still have latency.
So take a page with 10 links on it which is a total of 60 kbytes. For a land line dial up that will take
.1 latency per link in seconds X 10 links = 1 second + 60 kilobytes/360 kbytes per minute/60 seconds per minute = 11 seconds to load the page.
You have 14 seconds in latency with 60 kilobytes/75 kilobytes per minute/60 seconds per minute (5X compression) which yields 62 seconds to load the page. Which for this example is 5.6 x slower than a dial up connection to load the page.
Note that the math for isaphone is simliar but the latency is 5 seconds so for this example you have 50 seconds of dead airtime. Also the raw rate is 12 Kbytes per minute...
50+60 kilobytes/60 kilobytes per minute (compressed) /60 seconds per minute = 110 seconds which is 10 times slower than a dial up connection.
The actual speed up depends on the compressability of the data and the number of links on the page and the latency of the satellite link. The compressibility of the data is important as is the number of links on the page as seen clearly in the IsatPhone example. Encrypted data such as bank sites or google search are impossible to compress and thus are prohibitively expensive to download.
How do people successfully use web compression for handheld phones?
People who successfully use web browsing are very judicious in its use. One example is a group of fishermen we serve off the coast of Australia. The weather data they need is one of the very few sources not available through the WeatherNet service, so they choose to pay for the download to their site and are appreciative that such data is available at sea.
Others may choose to occasionally download important home school information or a particular page with an important repair part for their vessel.
But the theme is always the same, general web browsing is expensive, yet it is a real step forward to have the web available when you really need it at sea. For more information on this please see our previous blog on "Can I Surf the Web with My IsatPhone Pro?"
If you really need true satellite web browsing at sea, satellite broadband is the answer.
Cost: Satellite broadband systems have fairly expensive airtime, but with XWeb compression it becomes affordable. For example a low end fleet broadband subscription charges about $20 per megabyte. XWeb compresses pages by a factor of 3 to 5 which means effective cost goes down by a factor of 3 to 5. So $20 now converts to $4 per megabyte.
Speed: Broadband connections are fairly slow, but with XWeb compression they rival land based broadband connections. For example, an Iridium OpenPort is a maximun of 2x a dial up connection. A FleetBroadband 150 is a maximum of 3 x dial up. So the systems are considerably slower than connections you might have at home. But by decreasing the amount of data you transfer with Xweb, you increase the speed by a factor of 3 to 5. So now something that is as slow as 2x a dial up connection rivals a land based broadband connection.
Security: By using compression based web browsing it is possible to configure firewalls over our satellite firewall Optimizer to prevent all traffic over the broadband links except the pages you want to see. This eliminates expensive, unmonitored and unwanted traffic such as automatic operating system updates, virus scan software updates, etc.
THE BOTTOM LINE
For occasional specific web browsing, handheld units like Iridium and Inmarsat systems are possible but expensive.
For more robust web browsing similar to land based use, one will want to consider Broadband at sea.
For a comprehensive look at different broadband units for individual cruisers, check out our free guide to affordable satellite broadband:
Leave your comments below. Thank you for your participation!
Recently we were contacted by a cruiser that wanted to get GRIB files onto his iPad over a satellite phone while at sea. He was looking for the least expensive way to do this. Knowing the Isatphone Pro handset costs less than the Iridium 9555 or Iridium Extreme, he had some questions:
1) Could he get GRIB files onto his Ipad with the IsatPhone Pro
2) How long it would take for a typical GRIB file download, and
3) How should he compare the total price of hardware and service between the IsatPhone Pro and Iridium offerings?
Excellent questions and here are the answers:
1) Yes, You can download GRIB files to your iPad (or any iOS device, like an iPod Touch or iPhone) using an IsatPhone Pro - with the Optimizer satellite firewall and Wi-Fi hotspot
What You Need:
1. an IsatPhone Pro
2. an iPad or other Apple iOS device
3. either iNavX or Weather4D weather software
4. an Optimizer satellite firewall and Wi-Fi hotspot
5. XGate satellite email service App
You can use the identical setup with and Iridium phone, or a similar setup with the Iridum AxcessPoint and Iridium AxcessPoint Mail & Web App.
Let's look at the elements of this:
- Optimizer's firewall ensures that all of the very narrow IsatPhone data feed is available.
- Optimizer's Wi-Fi hotspot allows the iPad to connect to the data feed.
- iNavX and Weather4D work with XGate so when you request a GRIB file, the request is sent to XGate.
-XGate then sends the GRIB file request as an email, and receives the reply email from the GRIB file provider.
How Long Does It Take to Download a GRIB File over a Satellite Phone?
There are two calls that need to be made - first the request, then the download of the file. The first call can generally be done in the minimum calling increment of the satellite service:
IsatPhone minimum calling increment: 1 minute
Iridium minimum calling increment: 20 seconds
Then, you can look at the time it will take to download the reply email from the GRIB service (For this example, we are using a 3 day GRIB File with 12 forecasts of wind every 6 hours arrows every degree for the size of the Caribbean sea) :
When using the IsatPhone it takes a full minute to bring up a connection on an IsatPhone before you start downloading data. Once connected you can transfer about 12Kbytes of data per minute. A typical GRIB file is about 15Kbytes. So, it takes a bit over a minute to download this grib file on an IsatPhone. 1 minute to connect + 2 minute of airtime to download (one minute plus a few seconds is billed as two minutes) = 3 minutes of airtime
IsatPhone Pro billing time to request and receive a GRIB file: 4 minutes
Iridium runs a bit faster: 18Kbytes per minute on an iPad is routinely seen. It takes 20 seconds to get connected to the network and the billing increment is 20 seconds. So you are looking at 4 billing increments, or 1.33 minutes, to download the same file.
Iridium billing time to request and receive a GRIB file: 1.66 minutes
How Much Does It Cost To Request and Recieve a GRIB File?
Based on some typical airtime plans, let's do the math to compare pricing.
Lets assume that you your have a 100 minute prepaid airtime plan for IsatPhone... the retail price for this is $99 or $1 per minute. In this case:
IsatPhone airtime costs to request and receive a grib file: $4.00
For an Iridium user with a 500 minute plan the cost is $1.29 per minute or .43 cents per billing increment. In this case:
Iridium airtime costs to request and receive a grib file: $2.15
Total Cost of Ownership
Baseline costs: the IsatPhone costs about $595 and the Iridium 9555 costs $1,195. However, additional hardware such as a dock or external antenna, must-haves for most boaters, will eliminate any hardware pricing advantage. The options are complex, but should be called out. A firewall/Wi-Fi hotspot is required for either service and should be factored in.
Additionally, your time has value - if you're staring at your screen waiting for a download, is that worth the $1.85/minute difference in this example to you? Maybe, maybe not.
The short answer is that for heavy data users who will be using their service for years, the Iridium solution is preferred due to the extra speed and lower price for airtime. For light users or those who will only be out on the water a limited time, the IsatPhone Pro will likely cost less depending on accessories, and will certainly work well when paired with Optimizer.
Take Away: Yes, you can download GRIBS at sea over your IsatPhone Pro or Iridium 9555. Contact us to help you compare total costs.
Please contact us if you have more questions!
Armed with an iPad, Iridium phone, and an Iridium AxcessPoint
hotspot, Francis Fustier and his compatriots had all of the weather and navigation data they needed for a successful Atlantic crossing during the ARC Rally 2011.
"With Weather4D PRO and Iridium AxcessPoint, associated with an Iridium satellite phone, we now have a complete solution, reliable and low cost, to receive, display and manage GRIB files in open seas with iPad. iNavX Navionics cartography and we also provide a complete navigation solution, supporting the exchange of files with Weather4D PRO: GRIB, routes, tracks, that allows simultaneous display in both applications.
These solutions, fully complementary and mutually consistent, were tested on more 2800 NM in the autumn during a crossing from Canaria to the Caribbean, on board a Catana 47 Rafale , enrolled in the ARC rally 2011. More, Olivier Bouyssou has improved over water his app Weather4D Pro, correcting, adding and optimizing daily development onboard."
For more of the story, including the impressive throughput numbers they were receiving over Iridium, visit their blog post: http://blog.francis-fustier.fr/en/navigation-sur-ipad-la-solution-integrale/
Iridium AxcesssPoint Review
Iridium's recent press release announcing the availability of the "First Apple iOS App Available on Iridium"
has garnered its share of press from the general technology sites including CNET and Engadget.
As a long-time satellite industry veteran, it's always enlightening to see the comments on these sites from people unfamiliar with satellite phones. It's a completely different world than the rest of our interconnected internet and cellular data life. That's because most people live in places where they have at least some cellular connectivity. But there are millions who don't - they live, work and play where there is no cellular coverage either on land, while flying, or on salt-water. Satellite data service is for these people.
GMN is an independent satellite data specialist, and we work closely with all of the global Mobile Satellite Services providers, so we feel that our perspective will be useful to people considering the Iridium AxcessPoint solution.
The quickest way to get up to speed on the solution is to visit our Iridium AxcessPoint page
, or the Iridium
page. However, knowing the features and specifications is one thing. Understanding how they apply to different users and compare to other satellite data solutions is another.
What is the Iridium AxcessPoint?
The AxcessPoint is a device that creates a Wi-Fi hotspot with an Internet connection through a current Iridium phone. AxcessPoint Mail & Web software runs on customers computers or iOS devices to optimize email and web browsing so they get the most out of the narrowband (2.4 kbps) Iridium data service. AxcessPoint service is free with standard airtime rates. (Rates vary by provider, but generally a little over $1.00 per minute. See below) When you register for the free AxcessPoint service, you are issued a new email address. You can forward or fetch messages from other providers such as GMail, Hotmail, etc. so that you can use your Iridium address as a primary account without having to notify all of your contacts.
Who uses Satellite Phone Email, Web and Weather Data?
The intended user is someone who is outside of cellular coverage.?Iridium works everywhere on the face of the planet, and is the only only satellite provider to work at the poles, so this adds up to a fair number of people. These users are generally business or government workers in industries like natural resources (forestry, oil&gas exploration), ?field workers in sciences like biology/geology etc. or maritime users like commercial fishing, maritime transport, or live-aboard sailors. There are also many adventure travelers who need to stay in touch.
AxcessPoint for Laptop Satellite Data Users
Without the AxcessPoint, Iridium users can connect their phones to a computer using a USB cable. However, USB drivers are the number one support issue for this kind of customer, so the Wi-Fi makes it easier. There's also no firewall when connecting directly so machines will overwhelm the 2400 baud connection with things like Windows Updates. The AxcessPoint incudes a firewall so that the only traffic that goes through is compressed email, web-browsing and weather for particular programs.
AxcessPoint for Apple iOS users (iPad/iPod Touch/iPhone)
The big news with the launch of Iridium AxcessPoint is that now iOS users can connect to the AxcessPoint via Wi-Fi and have a great experience using email and a reasonable experience browsing mobile web sites through the Mail & Web app. The app works with Iridium servers to compress all of the data both ways, and has a couple of other features. First, it actually stores mail on the iOS device, unlike Apple Mail which largely just syncs mail requiring more data to be transferred each time. Secondly, it has smart size and attachment filtering to avoid large videos or powerpoint attachments from hogging the data feed.
Mobile Satellite Phone Data Provider Alternatives
Satellite data speeds using handheld phones are nowhere near cellular. Either you have it or you don't, although some rural providers (I'm looking at you Volcano Telecom) have data rates that are still in the 2.4 kbps range.
So let's look at the uncompressed throughput from the global satellite providers. Iridium
data service gives a consistent 2.4 kbps. Drops can happen, but they are generally rare, and AxcessPoint or our own XGate software make these insignificant as they will automatically restart the transmission mid-file. Iridium Airtime
rates vary by provider, but ?can easily be had for just over $1/minute prepaid. Given that a 3-minute session will easily handle a day's email needs, and possibly some weather files to boot, it's a reasonable charge. Finally, Iridium is the only provider who offers an iOS app while using their service, and it's free other than standard airtime rates. Iridium handsets start at around $1100 USD. The AxcessPoint Device is around $200 USD. Inmarsat IsatPhone Pro
(GSPS) data service has a stated throughput of 2.4 kbps. Our testing places typical usage at closer to 1.2 kbps (though this speed varies and has potential for improvements as the service is new). Setup time takes longer than with Iridium. Once a data call is established, the signal is rock solid. ?Airtime pricing is lower than Iridium data pricing, but when speeds are factored in, for data service the net pricing is very similar. Handset prices are currently around $600 USD, but the choice remains complex depending on where and how you will be using your service. Globalstar
offers 9.6 kbps rates, but Globalstar still has many service drops as they roll out their new network. Again, for data, this isn't much of an issue when used with a program like XGate satellite email because of automatic signal detection and mid-file restart, ?but for voice it's still frustrating. The company is currently selling unlimited service for $20/month as a stop-gap measure until their constellation returns to full health. As of late 2011, potential buyers should do their research when considering Globalstar. Thuraya IP
service offers a stated speed of 9.6 kbps, but as they are a regional provider with no service in the US where our testing facility is located, we do not have any comments on the service. Several of our satellite email service customers use Thuraya IP successfully, so it may be something to consider if you only need service in those areas where they do business.
Speeds of 128kbps up to 484kbps can be had using larger, laptop-sized Inmarsat BGAN
, or maritime optimized Fleet BroadBand
terminals. For users who can afford the size and money, they're a good option, especially when used with compression software to save on airtime bills and give an experience that's much like broadband. However, not everyone has the space or funds for this option. BGAN terminals cost around $3,000 USD and Fleet Broadband terminals start around $6000 USD.
Satellite Phone Rentals
One other important note for those entering the satellite world for the first time is that there is a healthy rental business because so many people only need satellite service for a few weeks or months when they travel. Rental service is a good way to fill a short term need. Like many providers, GMN offers rental service, even though we don't promote it on our web site.
Iridium AxcessPoint Review Summary
For someone who needing email access outside of cellular coverage, particularly in a small, relatively affordable package, the Iridium phone/AxcessPoint/ Mail&Web software package, together with your iOS device, is a relative bargain. For someone needing small size at a ?price, an Iridium 9555 or Extreme phone, an AxcessPoint device and an iPod Touch gives you full access to email in the times and places when there are no other options. That makes the service a relative bargain.
Satellite tech, app connect your iPhone anywhere in the world
Are you heading to a remote part of the world, where you're totally cut off from wireless networks? If so, bring your Apple device along, and you can actually stay connected to the Web.
Iridium Communications announced today that it has brought its?AxcessPoint Mail & Web app
to iOS. With the mobile Wi-Fi hot spot technology in tow,?iPad
, and?iPod Touch
owners will be able to connect to the Web and check their e-mail on the 90 percent of the planet, where wireless networks aren't available.
There are some hurdles customers will need to overcome in order to connect their iOS devices to the Web in these remote spots. For one, they'll need to buy an Iridium satellite phone, which should set them back between $1,000 and $1,500. The company's free application must then be downloaded onto the iOS-based device. From there, customers must pay for Iridium satellite service, which costs about $1 per minute.
Once all that is in place, users need only to connect their satellite phone with the application running on their iOS-based device, and they'll be all set.
However, don't expect it to provide breakneck speeds while you're in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean trying to surf the Web. According to an Iridium representative, the company's satellite service is "good for e-mail and texts," but it won't hold up when trying to download video or open big sites. Typical Iridium data speeds are 2.4kbps, but this application "offers data speeds up to five times faster" for Web browsing and 15 times faster for e-mail, the representative said.
"This isn't broadband," Iridium CEO Matt Desch?told CNET in September, when his company launched AxcessPoint
. "It's satellite data service. It's not something that you would use to stream video from Hulu. It's to give people who are traveling in very remote parts of the world, where there is no cell phone access, the ability to check e-mail and access the Web."
When AxcessPoint launched in September, it came with support for Macs, Windows PCs, and BlackBerry devices.