Help with Satellite Phone choice

I am trying to choose a satellite phone, for use on lakes and perhaps mountains in Northern Canada (not above the arctic circle). The choices are:

  1. Globalstar: the cheapest, but some comments indicate reliability/connection concerns.
  2. Inmarsat: A compromise in cost, but also is low earth orbit - will this be too low in the North? Will mountains pose a problem?
  3. Iridium: most expensive, geosynchronous satellite system, but some complain it takes time to get a connection.

    I would appreciate any comments on your experiences that could help me make a choice.

    Thanks, Northyak.

i got to be honest
I have no idea about any of those phones. But if I was on the market for one and actually might need to use it…I would get one one that works the best. No point in paying less and it not working.

Ryan L.

globestar is a big NO, u can only use there phones certain times of the day,not somthing u would want if an emergency arises. u can contact the other 2 companys and they will give u all the info u need. u can actually talk to a person, not a computer…

Inmarsat has a good product, more affordable than iridium. good luck,

Can’t say about orbit angle from North

– Last Updated: Jun-07-11 5:08 PM EST –

...but in the rest of Canada Isatphone (Inmarsat) seems to be the top. Cheaper unit and cheaper airtime. You can mail order it from the US or Canada, doesn't matter, and you can get prepay airtime card from same retailer or any other, doesn't matter. Prepay is cheaper (80-90 cents a minute) if you don't use it much, and is valid for 2 years. Ain't got it yet, but will, next year. The only complaint I've read is that it takes longer to lock on the satellite than some of the competition (yes, Isat takes same or longer than other guys, not the other way around), but once it's locked, it's stable and there is no "blackout hours". They don't sell airtime cards and plans for US users, not yet.

I’ve used globalstar and irridium…gs sucks. It runs on 9 satellites whereas irr is on 27 I believe…so more coverage. In the arctic there is probably even less satellites orbiting so gs may be worse. If you are sending data…as a modem irr is better…at least it was in 2004 when I was using it for that purpose.

Have rented Globalstar for years
as there wasnt much other available. Every day that we checked in we had to wait…sometimes up to four hours for service. Globalstar is supposedly updating their satellites but I am of the “show me” ilk.

For now I rent an Iridium when needed. Trips all between 50 and 53 north latitude .

50 to 65 degrees latitude
Thanks - I am looking for a phone that will work at 50 to 65 degrees latitude. I understand that with Inmarsat you must point the antenna at the satellite, and I can’t find out what angle that would be (and thus whether mountains would block transmission) when up north.


Maybe this will help
Iridiums dont have to be pointed at the satellite but do require an open area. Cant speak for mountain blockage.

It needs to be pointed

– Last Updated: Jun-09-11 3:32 AM EST –

at the general direction of satellite, but not precisely at satellite. It's not as sensitive to aiming as a sat TV dish. Also, IIRC from reading the Isat manual, you only need to point it there until it locks on the satellite, which may take 40-50 seconds. After that, you don't have to point it in specific direction, but you do need an open area over your head or at least to be near window for the duration of call.

PS: if this is of any help, here is one Isatphone review (no, I'm not working for them):

Satellite is located over the equator at 98W at 22,000 miles elevation. You can calculate the elevation angle (i.e. where to point it relatively to horizon) based on these numbers. There are calculation applications for TV satellites, so must be something for phone satellites too. for This guy reported from the US/Can border, which is way down South from where you are. His location was on the East coast at 45N 68W. Direct TV couldn't get signal there, but Isat phone could. 98W meridian is roughly in Winnipeg. So, if you are straight North of Winnipeg, point the antenna to the Southern sky. People straight North of Winnipeg, i.e. at 98W meridian, will get better signal at 55N parallel than those far to the East or West on the same 55N parallel. If you're on the East coast - point it to the South West, and if you're to the West of Winnipeg - point it to South East. "Vaguely in the direction of the bird", he says. There are more comments below the article, but almost nobody tells their location.