Navigating Satellite Phone Airtime Prices: A Comparative Analysis of Inmarsat, Iridium, Thuraya, and Globalstar

Introduction to Satellite Phone Airtime and Pricing

To compliment our wide range of satellite devices here at Orbital SatCom, we offer an extensive selection of satellite phone airtime packages either in the form of monthly contracts or vouchers that can be applied on a one-off basis. Our monthly airtime plans vary from one device to another, and our vouchers range from short-term options with 30-day validity periods, to longer-term solutions that are valid for up to a year or more. This blog should help you decide which airtime setup is best for you.

Inmarsat Airtime: Plans and Pricing

Inmarsat network coverage extends to near-global levels, covering all countries and continents except for polar regions. There are prepaid Inmarsat airtime minutes and prepaid SIM cards available for different parts of the world, including Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa, as well as global prepaid vouchers. Validity periods range from just 30 days to an entire year, with different data amounts available too depending on which voucher you choose. So you could, for example, top your ISatPhone 2 up with a global voucher that is valid for a year with 500, 1000, or 2500 data units on it.

Those embarking on a longer-term excursion should opt for a rolling monthly contract. Inmarsat’s standard contracts start from just $45 a month with a $25 activation fee. This gives you 10 inclusive minutes with which to use your ISatPhone 2 while you are away. Their other monthly contracts available are the Allowance 20 from $60 a month and 20 inclusive minutes, and the Allowance 60 from $100 a month and 60 inclusive minutes. All Inmarsat monthly contracts have a minimum term of three months.

Inmarsat also caters for satellite phone systems aboard sea-faring vessels, offering prepaid Fleetphone airtime and prepaid FleetOne airtime. Any dedicated mariners or sailors should consider topping up their onboard voice communication setups with enough Inmarsat airtime before setting sail on their next voyage.

Iridium Airtime: Costs and Coverage

At OSAT, we offer a big selection of flexible Iridium airtime packages that cater not just for satellite phone handsets but satellite Wi-Fi hotspots such as the Iridium GO! and GO! exec. Much like Inmarsat and the other leading satellite networks, monthly contracts and prepaid vouchers are available, depending on the nature of your adventure, trip, or excursion. Being slightly more expensive because of Iridium’s truly global coverage, you need to make sure your budget is in order before taking the leap on Iridium hardware and airtime.

Iridium’s cheapest prepaid airtime voucher or prepaid SIM is $211, and has a validity period of just 30 days. For some people embarking on short-term expeditions, this would be ideal. However, we would recommend signing up to a rolling monthly contract if the trip is set to be any longer than 30 days. These start at $74 a month for the base, standard contract, with 10 inclusive minutes and a 3-month minimum term, and scale to $129 a month for the Power 250 contract, 250 inclusive minutes and a 3-month minimum term.

Thuraya Airtime: Flexible Options and Value

Airtime options from Thuraya, whether as monthly contracts, or prepaid minutes, are generally the cheaper ways to go if you’re thinking about purchasing a satellite phone. However, this is largely due to the fact that their network coverage is not as extensive as Inmarsat or Iridium. Compared to global or near-global levels of their competitors, Thuraya’s coverage only reaches EMEA and APAC regions. Therefore we strongly recommend against using a Thuraya phone in North or South America because a signal will not be achieved.

With that aspect understood, Thuraya’s airtime packages are wallet-friendly, starting from just $30 for a basic top-up voucher, giving you 13 minutes of talk time from your Thuraya device. Top-ups range all the way up to 666 minutes at a one-off charge of $1,400. If, however, your trip is slightly longer than a few weeks, a rolling monthly contract is for you. Thuraya’s base, standard contract is $37.50 a month with a $22.50 activation fee and 3-month minimum term.

Globalstar Airtime: Pricing and Connectivity

Globalstar airtime caters for two specific satellite trackers, the SmartOne and the SmartOne C. In order for messages to be transmitted from these compact, ruggedized trackers, they need to be activated with an appropriate airtime contract, starting at just $12.50 a month and catering for 50 messages, scaling to just $30 a month for an unlimited amount of messages.

Globalstar’s monthly airtime plans range from $30-$400 a month and include data as well as talk time, but data-only plans are available also.

As always, our team of experts at OSAT is here to help. So, if you need any advice about our satellite phone airtime, contact us via:

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