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.
Want to compare satellite email and web browsing speeds for Iridium, IsatPhone and other satellite phone equipment?
That is a complex topic, influenced by many factors, but we are here to help. Through clear comparisons, important recommendations and a video demonstration, it will be much easier for you to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of satellite systems.
So, first, let's understand the basics. Imagine that each piece of data (such as email or a GRIB file) that we want to transfer is like a car traveling on an interstate highway. How fast the car travels is dependent on the engine horsepower, the speed limit imposed on the highway, how many other cars are traveling that same highway and their speed, and whether there are other interferences, such as rain, a disabled car blocking traffic, etc.
The interestate highway represents the narrowband or broadband connection, the speed limit is the data transfer rate, interferences can be signal strength, signal quality, or competition for the connection.
Compare 'speeds' of data transfer for the different 'engines' if there is no other competition or interference during the trip.
||Data Transfer Rate [Highway Speed]
|IsatPhone Pro Handheld
||12 kbytes per minute
||15 kbytes per minute
||50 kbytes per minute
||Range of 60 - 800 kbytes per minute
||Range of 800 to 8,000 kbytes per minute
||Range of 800 to 2,500 kbytes per minute
|Fleet Broadband 500
||2,500 kbytes per minute
||Range of 800 to 3,200 kbytes per minute
|Home Broadband Land Line @512 kbps
||3,200 kbytes per minute
|Home Broadband Land Line @1.5 Mbps
||9,600 kbytes per minute
You can see from this chart there is a HUGE difference in speed between different satellite equipment systems (engines.) You can also see how satellite connection speeds compare to a typical broadband land line that most of us have in our homes. While satellite systems speeds vary, they are all slow to very slow when compared to land line connections.
Now for some good news: GMN specializes in maximizing the horsepower of your engine for both satellite email and web browsing.
Let's look at EMAIL first:
XGate satellite email is designed to eliminate extraneous email chatting that occurs between servers during a typical email transfer session. XGate packs all the email into one compressed stream of data, such that, on average, XGate is 10-15 times faster than other email programs (even faster on some systems). This means you realize significant savings in airtime costs.
An average email is usually 2-5 kb in size. Let's say that you are sending an update to family and close friends so you are sending 10 emails, each 5 kb for a total size of 50 kb; OR, you want to download a 3-day Wind Forecast GRIB file, which happens to be about 50 kb in size.
Compare airtime required to send those emails or to receive that GRIB file. Remember, with XGate, that entire batch of emails or that GRIB file will be packed to about 5kb in size, or less:
||Airtime Minutes without XGate (50 kb)*
||Airtime Minutes with XGate(50 kb compressed to 5kb)*
|IsatPhone Pro Handheld
||Range .8333 to .0625 minutes
||Range .0833 to .0063 minutes
||Range .0625 to .0200 minutes
||Range .0063 to .0020 minutes
|Fleet Broadband 500*
||Range .0625 to .0156 minutes
||Range .0063 to .0016 minutes
||Range .0625 to .0063 minutes
||Range .0063 to .0006 minutes
*These airtime plans charge by the amount of data transferred, not by the airtime minute. All airtime use calculations are approximate and do not include any minimum billing increments required by providers.
Whether calculated by the minute or by the amount of data, XGate Satellite Email provides significant savings.
Now let's look at XWeb, an optional add-on service to XGate.
With XWeb you may save as much as $80 on every $100 of satellite airtime when web browsing; BUT, you must consider your equipment and needs carefully before signing up. Web browsing over narrowband connections (handheld satellite phones) can become very costly, very quickly. We recommend you always use mobile sites when browsing, whenever possible.
Compare the average satellite airtime use to download mobile Sports Illustrated (m.si.com) WITHOUT and then WITH using XWeb.
||Without XWeb (2.3MB)
||With XWeb (313.5kb)
| IsatPhone Pro
|| 196.2667 minutes (3.2711 hours)
|| 26.125 minutes
|| 157.0133 minutes (2.6169 hours)
|| 20.9 minutes
|| 47.1040 minutes
|| 6.27 minutes
| Iridium OpenPort*
|| 39.2533 to 2.9440 minutes
|| 5.225 to .3919 minutes
| Fleet Broadband*
|| 2.9440 to .9421 minutes
|| .3919 to .1254 minutes
| Fleet Broadband 500*
|| .9421 minutes
|| .1254 minutes
|| 2.9440 to .7360 minutes
|| .3919 to .0980 minutes
| KVH VSAT*
|| 2.9440 to .2944 minutes
|| .3919 to .0392 minutes
You can see that using XWeb yields a great savings on airtime dollars. Please note that web browsing savings varies depending on type of satellite phone equipment.
For a demonstration of XWeb compression, watch a 3-minute video:
XWeb is highly recommended for Iridium OpenPort, Fleet Broadband, BGAN, Vsat, Globalstar and cell phones. The information above shows that you will be able to browse the web with XGate/XWeb because the basic equipment transfer speeds are high enough that with compression, web browsing is feasible.
You can also web browse with Iridium handheld phones and the Inmarsat IsatPhone Pro, but the transfer rates will be very slow even though they are accelerated 5X or more by XWeb. This is due to the inherent slow protocol of handheld satellite phones. Thus, you may web browse, but it will be slow and probably expensive, even with XWeb compression savings.
We really must "toot our own horn" here.
XGate satellite email is a wonderful addition to any satellite phone and will allow you to do email in a fast, efficient way.
XWeb web browsing with compression is a nice addition for mobile broadband and can be used for minimal browsing on the handsets. As you can see above, web browsing on narrowband devices is fairly slow and expensive; but, it is much better than not using it at all if you have to browse!
Unsure which system will work best for you? Contact us for a no-obligation consultation. We can help you decide which system best meets your needs.
You asked for it...a video on how to use XGate Satellite Phone Email Service. We've delivered.
Watch as Dr. Luis Soltero demonstrates XGate, using the new GMN Optimizer to WiFi connect with an IsatPhone Pro handheld satellite phone.
Do you have an Iridium 9555 or Extreme 9575 instead? No worries, this video series is neither satellite phone nor computer specific. All satellite phone owners including Iridium OpenPort, Inmarsat FleetBroadband, Globalstar and Thuraya users will find useful information here. In addition, XGate is compatible with Windows OS, Mac OSX, Linux, Apple iOS (i.e. iPad, iPhone, iPodTouch) and Android smartphones.
These new videos explain:
- how to register for XGate satellite email service
- how to download and install XGate software on your computer
- what is a firewall and why it is important when using your satellite phone
- how the Optimizer can save you valuable satellite airtime
- how to create and send/receive email in iScribe, the built-in email component
- how to update your Twitter account (or FaceBook or LinkedIn) with your satellite phone
- an email session in real time
Watch and enjoy!
Part 1: Download, Install, Register XGate Satellite Phone Email
Part 2: Send/Receive Email
Part 3: Update Twitter, FaceBook, LinkedIn
Thank you for watching!
Click below if you would like to try XGate for yourself. No satellite phone is necessary!
We have many more helpful videos available. Learn about Web browsing using a satellite phone; the differences between the GMN Optimizer and the Iridium AxcessPoint WiFi Device. Click below to go directly to our Videos page.
Don't have a satellite communication system yet? Confused about all the options? Let our experts (many of whom have spent years on the water...on boats) help you design a system to meet your needs. Click below to get started.
Please keep those suggestions coming and we will do all we can to keep you informed.
Watch this video example to learn how XWeb may save you $80 out of $100 in satellite airtime costs for satellite phone web browsing.
XGate satellite phone email is the easy way to access email while on the water or in remote locations. Its simply the fastest, easiest and most relable satellite phone email available, saving you time, money and frustration.
It works with Windows, Linux and Mac OS, is certified for Iridium, Iridium OpenPort, Globalstar, Inmarsat BGan & Fleet Broadband and Inmarsat IsatPhone or any TCP/IP service and it offers extensive features and benefits.
With XWeb you will browse the Internet up to 10x faster over satellite phones. Faster data downloads means greater airtime savings for you. You can SAVE as much as $80 out of $100 you would have spent on satellite phone airtime without XWeb.
XWeb includes these powerful benefits:
- Web Content Compression
- Removal of Graphic's Background
- Pop-up advertising Stripped
- No Ads
- Images are Re-Sampled and Compressed
- Option to View Unmodified Pages when Necessary
Use XGate and XWeb to increase speed of satellite data transfers and save money.
Try a free trial of XGate satellite phone email today. No satellite phone is necessary for the free trial!
Now, Android smartphone and tablet users can access email and accelerated web browsing with XGate for Android, and the RedPort Optimizer.
There's nothing like the convenience of staying in touch via email and the web with your Android device - but what happens when you're away from cellular or Wi-Fi connections? Satellite phones and terminals can provide service anywhere in the world, but data rates are slow and/or expensive compared to land-based wireless services. XGate, when paired with the RedPort Optimizer, solves these problems.
XGate satellite phone email is the easy way to access email while on the water or in remote locations. XGate is simply the fastest, easiest and most reliable satellite phone email available, saving you time, money and frustration.
Optimizer works as a firewall, and creates a Wi-Fi hotspot from the USB port of any compatible handheld satellite phone, or to the ethernet port of any satellite broadband terminal. Android users can connect to the Wi-Fi hotspot, and use XGate to access accelerated email and web service. XGate even controls the satellite data link - dialing and hanging up as needed.
XGate, the world's leading independent satellite phone email service has been connecting computer users with satellite phone email and web service for over 10 years. 2011 saw the introduction of the XGate for iOS app for iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch. Now, XGate for Android brings the speed and convenience of XGate to millions of Android users.
The Android app is a free download in the Google Play store. Its use requires an active XGate subscription.
Satellite communication took another innovative leap forward today when GMN labs sent the first iOS email using a Globalstar GSP-1700, Optimizer and XGate satellite email for iOS, available in the iTunes App Store.
Transmission was flawless.
As Globalstar launches their second-generation satellites, many Globalstar users are looking to make the most of the current Globalstar unlimited plans. Email is one of the best ways to do this - you can create emails offline, then transmit them seemlessly.
When used with XGate and a Globalstar phone, Optimizer lets you access emails easily, browse the web, download your favorite weather files and track your location. Most importantly, you can avoid runaway satellite phone airtime bills thanks to its powerful firewall.
Want to know more about using a Globalstar phone for data service?
Recently a new cruiser came to us who needed satcom data (marine weather, email and satellite Internet) for his first blue-water cruise. He had already purchased an IsatPhone based on the handset cost. (See our blog post comparing IsatPhone Pro and Iridium pricing for downloading GRIB files)
Does IsatPhone Pro Data Work?
However, he had heard the IsatPhone Pro was very difficult to set up for data and that data just didn't work well on the IsatPhone Pro. We've worked with many customers since the launch of IsatPhone data service last year, and well, it hasn't always been as easy as with other satellite phone data services. Driver issues are more common, and uncompressed speeds are slower. Plus, there was no way to use an iPad.
But tens of thousands of IsatPhones are in use, and email is the most efficient way to communicate when you're out there. Plus, we have had success with email using the XGate service. So we knew there had to be a way to make IsatPhone data service sing.
Yes! Email and Weather via IsatPhone
IsatPhone Pro Satellite Phone Data Optimization Tip: Get an Optimizer
There is a way to make IsatPhone Pro data service work for email and weather, easily, reliably and quickly: Optimizer.
Optimizer is a small Wi-Fi hotspot with a built in firewall that stops all unwanted data requests from a user’s computer. It creates a Wi-Fi hotspot to easily connect with virtually any modern computer or iOS device, eliminating setup and support issues otherwise common with IsatPhone Pro data.
Optimizer works wonders with IsatPhone data service for compressed email when using XGate service. XGate also handles the phone connection: dialing, monitoring the satellite phone signal, and hanging up calls as needed.
END RESULT: The myth that IsatPhone Pro is difficult for data is debunked - when you Optimize. Set up is easy (no USB driver problems!) and email zips.
Optimizer and XGate make email easy and fast on the IsatPhone Pro. Even though it is still slower than other services, for emails, one could live very happily with an IsatPhone Pro.
TAKE AWAY: With Optimizer and XGate, IsatPhone Pro data is now an easy, fully functioning satellite phone option for satellite email and weather at sea.
Learn how to compare data airtime costs
for IsatPhone Pro and Iridium handhelds. You will also want to consider the peripherals such as antennas and docking stations before you have the complete financial picture.
Need help deciding which system works best for you?
Time and again, we hear from boaters who ask about using HF radio with pactor modems to access email service. “But it’s ‘free’” they say. Well, it’s not. We have a lot to say about this subject and would like to take a few minutes to fill you in on the latest in the HF radio versus satellite phone discussion that has now been ongoing for the last 15 years.
First let me talk about HF radio vs. satelite phones.? There is a nice recording here of a podcast on the subjecthttp://www.globalmarinenet.com/downloads/audio/
You will also find a discussion on using your iPad for satellite communication as well as using a discussion between different satellite broadband systems.Satellite Phone advantages over Pactor ModemsCost
It is much less expensive to purchase a satellite phone plus several years of airtime than it is to purchase a new Marine Single Side Band Radio.
Satellite phones commonly cost:Iridium 9555 with global coverage
- $1195 hardware
- $659 - 500 prepaid airtime minutes valid one year
IsatPhone Pro with mostly global coverage
- $595 hardware
- $750 - 1000 airtime minutes valid 2 years. Speed
Iridium data rates are at 2400 baud nominal, although if you purchase an AxcessPoint Wifi device or an wXa-200 router you can get over 3000?baud... Check this out.http://blog.francis-fustier.fr/en/navigation-sur-ipad-la-solution-integrale/
IsatPhone Pro speeds are about 60% of Iridium for download (2000 baud) and bout 45% for upload (1600 baud).
Both of these phones are faster than Pactor III modems on a typical connection.? Typical pactor connections are between 1-5 Kbytes per minute.? Iridium is 15 (20) kbps). Other advantages
- There is no contention so you can do your email anytime you want.
- Satellite phones are more flexible than HF.
- Satellite phones are portable
- Satellite phones can get all of your email and much larger selection of weather
- There are no time constraints on usage or time of day for usage.
- Satellite phones can be used to dial 911 or 505 (sos) in case of an emergency from your lifeboat.
- Satellite phones can make and receive voice calls to regular land based phones
- Satellite phones get free incoming SMS.. i.e. "call home" there is an emergency.
- Satellite phones can browse the Internet in a pinch (its slow... but hey it works if you must have it).
- Satellite phone email service compresses data so that most email sessions take only a few minutes. Our XGate satellite phone email accelerates service by 15-20 times.
For all these reasons it would be silly to go off shore without a satellite phone. Handheld satellite phones vs. satellite broadband devices
The major advantages of broadband devices over portables are price of airtime and speed. It takes 68 minutes to transfer one MB over Iridium handheld phones. At $1.29 per minute this means that 1 MB of data cost $87.? Note that 1Mbyte is a ton of data in the narrow band satellite business.? Your typical grib file is 10Kbytes. So you can download 100 GRIB files for the cost of 1 Mbyte.
Compare this $90 per MB price to the 3 broadband satellite services out there.
- FBB ~ $10 MB (and as low as $0.30/minute for large commitments)
- Iridium OpenPort ~ $12 MB.
So... satellite broadband is 10 times cheaper for data than a handheld satellite phone.
If you use a broadband satellite device the same way you would use an Isatphone Pro or an Iridium handset your monthly airtime bill would be astonishingly low.
Plus, satellite broadband devices are fast enough to browse the Internet. So if you must browse then you have plenty of bandwidth to do so, you will simply want to use compression based software to reduce your airtime bill. Here’s why:
homepage is about 1 MB. This means that on an uncompressed link this page may cost you $10. If you use compression (our Xweb compresses on average 2-5x) then that page cost $2. That is a considerable savings.
One of the disadvantages of Broadband devices (as mentioned before) is that they are ethernet based. This means that if you connect your computer to an open connection you might end up with a surprisingly large bill. This is because processes running on your computer such as anti-virus programs, windows updates, adobe flash updates, etc. will detect the open Internet connection and try to use it.
So when using a satellite broadband device you MUST use a firewall that blocs all unwanted traffic.? This works fine if you use a service that provides you with compression but its difficult when using regular Internet tools.
One device that you might want to look at is the wxa-200http://www.globalmarinenet.com/catalog/acceleration-appliance-c-1_125.html
This device is designed to prevent airtime shock for satellite broadband users. When you hook it up to a broadband device only
compressed email and web traffic will go over it. It blocks everything
else. Only your email and the compressed web pages you want to browse will be downloaded over the link.? All windows updates, antivirus, etc. will be blocked from accessing the Internet.3. Free satellite phone e-mail.
Iridium is now providing free satellite phone email service
under the Iridium AxcessPoint Mail & Web name to any subscriber using a 9555 or 9575 with the Purchase of an Iridium Wifi AxcessPoint appliance.http://www.globalmarinenet.com/catalog/iridium-axcesspoint-wifi-device-p-845.html
The Iridium AxceePoint Wi-Fi Hotspot $179 device has additional advantages...
- Wi-Fi connectivity to your phone - it allows any computer to connect to the phone via wifi. This eliminates the PROBLEMATIC USB interface to the computer.
- There are no drivers, modems, or Windows DUNs to install.? Simply connect via wifi to your device and voila... you are off doing email and weather.
- It has a built in firewall which removes all traffic over the slow link except compression based web browsing and email.? So... it works like the wXa-202 device mentioned above for Broadband devices but much less expensive and only for Iridium.
Every iridium user should consider acquiring an Iridium AxcessPoint.4. Apple Mobile devices.
You can now use your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch with your satellite phone.? If using a 9555/9575 you will need an AxcessPoint wifi device since the only way to interface to these phones is via wifi.
If using any other phone (including an IsatPhone Pro) then a wXa-200 is required.
Once again... all this information is summarized in the audio recordings listed here.http://www.globalmarinenet.com/downloads/audio/
XGate satellite phone email and web browsing service is now available as an iOS App for iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch users. Best of all, it's free to XGate subscribers. Simply download XGate in the iTunes App store
Those of you who have followed the Iridium AxcessPoint
launch will have an idea how this works. Others may ask: How can I get my satellite phone data service to work with my iPad, you ask? The iPad will only work with either cellular or Wi-Fi data. You need a way to turn your satellite phone data feed into a Wi-Fi signal. That's why we created the RedPort wXa-202 satellite firewall
and the Optimizer
. Simply plug in your USB (like you'd find on an Iridium 9555 or Extreme or IsatPhone Pro) or Ethernet cable (like you'd find on an Inmarsat BGAN or FleetBroadband device) and start XGate on your iOS device.
- The wXa-202 or Optimizer will create a Wi-Fi hotspot your iPad can see and use it to access your satellite phone.
- XGate will control your satellite phone through the wXa-202 or Optimizer to dial and hang up.
- The wXa-202 or Optimizer will act as a firewall, eliminating unwanted data requests from your computer, including Windows and virus updates, Skype background transfers, etc.
There are a couple of other advantages as well:
XGate will work over your cellular or Wi-Fi connection as well - that means you can save a lot of money on your data rates if you're internationally roaming, or if you're bumping up against your cellular data plan limit.
XGate stores your email on your iOS device, unlike Apple Mail which requires data access for anything more than your most current mail.
It's always really nice to hear from individuals and organizations that we sponsor. Here is one from Katie Spotz who did a solo unsupported row across the atlantic. Throughout the trip, Katie used XGate satellite phone email service
to stay in touch with friends, family and support teams. Katie has a great cause, check out her blog: http://www.rowforwater.com"Hi Luis,Hope you and your family are enjoying the holidays.It's been an incredible past year and I wanted to take a moment to thank you for your support. I am currently visiting water projects in Kenya that were funded as a result of the solo row across the Atlantic Ocean last year that was sponsored by GMN.Attached is a little thank you from Kenya. Meet Kevin and John. Two of the many children than now have clean water to drink because of you. Thanks for you support. It means more than you know."Katie