Understanding when & why you would use a Mobile Phone / Satellite Phone.
Mobile or 'Cell' Phones Functionality
- Call, voicemail, video call, text, email, stream videos, watch films, surf the internet, play games everywhere there is cellular connectivity (most places you would normally be day-to-day)
- These are what Mobile/ ‘Cell’ phones connect to (Hence the term cell phone)
- Cell phones will only work if they can connect to one of these towers.
Satellite Phones Functionality
- Call, email, text, voicemail everywhere you can see the sky.
It’s not often your mobile phone has no/ little service (especially in the UK) however it does happen - more often while in rural areas/ far off the coast/ disaster stricken counties/ countries with very poor economies. This will have happened because the mobile phone will have been out of range of a GSM or 3G / 4G / 5G cell tower which has caused the signal to drop - not significant when your signal drops for 2 mins halting your access to instagram or twitter however, more significant when this drop causes an interruption to military operations, oil drilling, Maritime Security, etc.
This is where the satellite phone provides a robust connectivity solution to terrestrial signal issues.
To connect to a satellite you need to have a clear line of sight (LOS) between the satphone and the satellite. (nothing blocking the signal between phone and satellite).
Satellite phones work very similarly to most mobile phones;
They’ve got a number, sim card, you can make and receive calls to other satphones and regular cell phones,
The difference being satphones are designed to work in environments with poor connectivity which is normally paired with poor infrastructure, maritime environments and areas prone to harsh weather. Satphones also have a very long battery life to offer a voice link the user can rely on for a matter of days not hours.
Example situations and environments satphones are currently used in;
- Satphones offer a simple yet robust form of communication that allows militaries to stay connected in tough environments often without terrestrial connectivity as a result of natural disaster or conflict.
- Disaster response
- Hurricanes, tsunamis, earthquakes and conflict all potentially take out power lines and cell towers leaving satphones the only way to communicate effectively beyond the reach of your voice.
- Off Piste Skiing / Snowboarding
- Skiers and Snowboarders regularly find themselves without any terrestrial / mobile service at all for extended periods of time due to LOS (Line of Sight) blockages between mobile phone and cell towers - potentially fatal when assistance is required for injuries/ avalanches etc. satphones provide a reliable connection reconnect yourself.
- Solo exploring
- Knowing you have the ability to connect with home while in the most disconnected of places.
- Offshore operations
- Terrestrial networks extend to 20km offshore - beyond 20km satphones offer regulatory certifications, piece of mind and in some cases the primary form of communication off the vessel.