Friday, July 6, 2018

Satellite Phone

Last year during hurricane season we had to evacuate, and cellphone service was spotty.  I decided back then I wanted to buy a satellite phone.  It sounds like a weird thing to want, but I made it a part of my disaster preparedness plan.  

Well, come to find out these things are not cheap.  And selecting one, and the corresponding service plan, is not as easy as I’d thought it would be.  Here is what I learned.  

There are three service providers: Iridium, Globalstar, and Inmarsat.  Not to get too technical, but Iridium has the best global network.  It also has the most expensive phones and plans.  Of course they do. 

Well, I decided that I really didn’t need the phone to work in the north or south poles.  Florida would do.  So I looked at the other two. 

Between Globalstar and Inmarsat, Inmarsat has the cheapest plans to keep the phone “active”.  It’s called a North America plan and it covers, well, North America.  For $25/month you get... 10 minutes. 

10 minutes you say?  What can you do with 10 minutes?  Order a pizza and that’s about it.  After that it’s $1/minute.  Geez. 

Well, I thought about it.  This is not going to replace my cellphone.  This is for an emergency when there is no cellphone service.  So the chance I’ll NEED to use it is slim.  But if I need it, I’ll need it. If it’s an emergency $1/minute is a small price to pay to be able to communicate with someone.  And, after all, isn’t that the point of this exercise?

So having the phone “active” at all times (with minutes that don’t expire) will at least give me the option of making a call in an emergency.  I can add this to my “disaster preparedness” kit and feel better.   For $25/month.  Sigh. 

Inmarsat is the cheapest one out there.  The others are $35 and up.  With similar small minute plans. So don’t plan on calling your buddies and reminiscing about the good old days on this phone.  A quick call to loved ones to let them know you are OK, a quick call to the police or to emergency services.  That’s it. 

So when I went to buy the phone, they had a deal at  If I got the $45/month plan ($50 if I wanted a US based number), they’d sell me the phone for $300 less.  So for $20 more a month for 12 months ($240), they’d discount the phone $300.  After 12 months I can switch to the cheaper monthly plan. 

So I took the bait.   Gets here Monday. 

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