Post-Paid or Pre-Paid Satellite Airtime?

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Just like mobile phones, when it comes to choosing airtime for satellite phones there are two options – post-paid and pre-paid airtime. There are advantages and disadvantages to both options but we aim to give you all the facts you need to make an informed decision to ensure you choose the most cost effective and best suited airtime option for your requirements.

Post-Paid Contracts
Satellite airtime contracts are available on the Iridium, Thuraya, Globalstar and Inmarsat satellite networks. If you are willing to sign up to the commitment of a 12 month minimum contract there can be many benefits to post-paid satellite airtime. Unlike pre-paid airtime you do not have to worry about minutes or SIM cards expiring – you will be able to use your SIM for as long as you keep the contract running after the minimum period. You can also benefit from cheaper call costs with a contract which is great if you will regularly be using your sat phone and unlike pre-paid airtime you are only paying for the minutes as and when you use them. Detailed call records are available with post-paid airtime contracts and are sent with your invoice on a monthly basis – this is something that is not usually done with pre-paid airtime.

Pre-Paid Vouchers
Pre-paid vouchers have the benefit of no monthly fees or minimum contracts. However, you are paying upfront for your minutes so make sure you choose a quantity of minutes most suited to your usage. This is because with Thuraya and Iridium prepaid options all airtime vouchers have an expiry date or validity period which will start from the date you add them to your SIM card. So if you don't use your minutes, you lose them. This means you need to keep track of when airtime is expiring so that you don’t get caught out when you need to use your satellite phone although most providers will send you reminders before airtime expires.

Although it is possible to top-up your satellite airtime online, as most sat phones are used in remote locations it is useful to make arrangements with your service provider before you leave on remote trips as to how you will give payment for any top-ups you might require along the way.

With both post-paid and pre-paid satellite airtime you get free incoming calls and text messages making it easy to stay in contact with friends, family and colleagues back home via your sat phone.

The world of satellite airtime can be confusing with various tariffs, plan validities and units per minute available. The main question to ask yourself when choosing your airtime is how often you will be using your sat phone. We are happy to discuss the best satellite airtime option for you, please contact us.

Post-Paid Contracts

Pre-Paid Vouchers


Low cost/minute, no need for top-ups

Flexible, no contract or activation fees


12 month minimum contract

Have to keep track of when minutes are expiring. Lose unused minute if let them expire.

Networks available

Iridium, Inmarsat, Thuraya, Globalstar

Iridium, Inmarsat, Thuraya, Globalstar


Invoiced monthly

Payable in advance

Calls charged in



Best for

Regular usage

Emergency or short-term use

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