Satellite Phones For the Masses

Mar 21 2003 - 09:03 PM ET |
qcphone.jpg In the past few days almost everyone has witnessed a technical marvel--mobile satellite communications. It's not just something for the big networks either. If you're wondering how much this would cost for you to do, here's what we've found. Globalstar is a major player in satellite communications. You can score a plan for as little as $34.95 a month. It only includes 30 minutes of air/data time but hey--it's worldwide baby. After your 30 minutes it's 99¢ a minute which isn't too bad. There are some higher plans too for the chatty global traveler. What about the phones? It's kind of bleak... You can't have the coolest looking phones and there isn't much selection. Globalstar has a Qualcom phone listed on its website for $599 MSRP (it's pictured at right). No rebates here folks. The other big player in the satellite phone market is Iridium. They're more of a reseller so specifics are harder to track down. lists Iridium phones starting at $1,495. The good news is that for the price you get a much smaller phone. The one great thing for both these companies is that when you click for the coverage map it's just the entire Earth. It's a beautiful thing. Update: Monday the 24th of March's Wall Street Journal (no link, go buy the paper) states that CBS has equipped one of its war reporters with: 2 Inmarsat M4 satellite phones (From research it doesn't look like just a phone as much as it looks like a data communications hub. It can carry high-speed data as well as telephone communications. The cost seems to be about 10K USD.) 2 Sony camcorders with Image Intensifiers 1 Sony mini-camcorder 1 Iridium satellite phone Pretty nice set-up. The article also mentioned that they dished out different technology to different reporters incase of failure (only 1 reporter goes down instead of everyone). To CBS's credit--they do have some of the best coverage.