Comparison Between Iridium and Inmarsat Satellite Phones

Exploring the World of Satellite Communication

Satellite communication bridges the gap left by terrestrial communication in places where it does not exist be that through the damaging effects of mother nature, by human conflicts, or simply where it has never been put in place. From the middle of the world’s oceans to the deepest reaches of Antarctica, with equipment like a globally-connected Iridium satellite phone or a near-globally connected Inmarsat satellite phone voice calls, SMS messages, emails, and other data connections can be achieved. Such satellite phones allow travellers, world record-breakers, or remotely operating lone workers to make check-in calls with key contacts or trigger rescue missions via built-in SOS buttons.

The Benefits of Iridium and Inmarsat Satellite Phones

Iridium and Inmarsat are two of the world’s leading satellite network providers. Each offers their own unique benefits which can be enjoyed when using their handsets. Below are the top benefits of each.

Benefits of Iridium Satellite Phones

  • Global Coverage: Iridium operates a constellation of 66 interconnected low Earth orbit (LEO) satellites, providing truly global coverage. This means you can make calls from virtually anywhere on the planet, including remote and polar regions.
  • Reliability: Iridium's LEO satellites offer lower latency and fewer dropped calls compared to geostationary satellites. This results in more reliable communication, even in challenging environments or during extreme weather conditions.
  • Cross-Network Compatibility: Iridium phones are compatible with both land-based cellular networks and other satellite networks, offering a versatile communication solution when transitioning between different regions or networks.
  • Data Services: Iridium supports data services, enabling users to send and receive emails, text messages, and even browse the web in areas without traditional network coverage.
  • Military and Government Use: Iridium has a strong presence in the military and government sectors due to its robust and secure communication capabilities.

Benefits of Inmarsat Satellite Phones

  • High-Bandwidth Services: Inmarsat’s satellites are geostationary and offer higher bandwidth than some LEO satellites, making them suitable for applications that require more data, such as video conferencing and live streaming.
  • Maritime and Aviation: Inmarsat is widely used in the maritime and aviation industries for voice and data communication, including cockpit communications, weather updates, and maritime safety services.
  • Reliability: Inmarsat's geostationary satellites are less affected by satellite handovers, making it more reliable for voice and data communications.
  • Government and Military Use: Inmarsat provides secure and reliable satellite communications for government and military applications, such as secure voice and data transmission.
  • Coverage Areas: While Inmarsat doesn't offer truly global coverage like Iridium, it still covers a significant portion of the earth’s surface, including most of the world's populated regions.
  • Specialized Services: Inmarsat offers specialized services like BGAN (Broadband Global Area Network) for high-speed data transmission and FleetBroadband for maritime users.

Features and Performance of Iridium Satellite Phones

Iridium satellite phones are arguably among the best satellite phones on the market because of their global coverage levels. The Iridium Extreme®, for example, is the standout satellite phone Iridium offers. Not only is it truly global, but it comes with integrated SOS capabilities meaning that, at the push of a button, professional emergency services can be summoned to the phone’s location in order to carry out a rapid evacuation. Elsewhere, the phone is rugged and can handle even the harshest land or maritime environments. It has SMS and email capabilities built-in too, and a tracking function that flags the carrier’s location to an online mapping portal so that those back home can monitor progress and whereabouts.

Comparing the Cost Factors and Plan Options for Iridium and Inmarsat Phones

No satellite phone will work properly without airtime loaded onto it, meaning for those watching their budgets, it’s not just the satellite phone price to consider but the airtime too. At OSAT, we offer a wide range of monthly and pre-paid satellite phone plans which cater for long-term, open ended excursions as well as shorter trips or challenges with definite completion dates. You will need to consider which option works best for you, but we would always recommend pre-paid airtime vouchers for shorter trips and contract sign-ups for anything longer than five or six months. Iridium satellite phone plans start at $74 a month and come with 10 minutes and SMS messages, whereas Inmarsat’s plans scale from $50 a month with the same amount of minutes included. Bear this in mind when looking at Iridium prepaid vouchers which start at $211, 100 minutes, 30-day validity period. Inmarsat’s lowest-cost equivalent voucher runs in at $150 with 67 minutes and 100 minutes of data, and is valid for three times longer at 90 days.

The Best Satellite Phones for Your Needs: Iridium vs. Inmarsat

Iridium and Inmarsat satellite phone handsets offer valuable satellite communication solutions, but they cater to different needs and preferences. Iridium excels in providing global coverage with its constellation of LEO satellites, ensuring connectivity even in remote and challenging environments. Whereas, Inmarsat's network, primarily composed of geostationary satellites, offers high-quality voice and data services, making it a great choice for maritime and aviation sectors. The choice between these two systems ultimately depends on your specific requirements, whether you prioritize global coverage or higher data speeds. Both technologies have their unique advantages, and the decision should be based on the nature of your communication needs and the regions you intend to operate in.

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

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