phone.jpgDo you think satellite phones are only for bullet-dodging troops in Afghanistan, remote scientific expeditions in Antarctica, or thrill seeking mountaineers calling in from atop Everest?  I did. But times are changing fast.

As 250,000 subscribers have already discovered, today, you can dial up outerspace and phone home, text message and even check e-mail from anywhere on the planet at international rates less than the cost of some cell phone services.

At nearly a pound, the 6.2 inches by 2.4 inches by 2.2 inches sat phone may look like a clunky 1980s-era handset, but as I recently discovered, its services are most definitely cutting-edge 21st century: satellite paging, text messaging (SMS), emergency 911 service and Internet access from almost anywhere on the surface of the Earth (including oceans, airways and polar regions). It also includes a menu of travel friendly features that business travelers will especially appreciate, such as caller ID, voice mail, data transmission and digital facsimile.

Feeling übercool and gadget-giddy, I travel-tested Iridium’s 9505A portable satellite phone during a yacht cruise in Mexico’s remote Sea of Cortez. Using the phone was as simple as using a conventional cellular phone, with one exception – the device can only be used outdoors. It must “see” a satellite in order to connect. Multitasking with a margarita in one hand and the sat phone in the other reclined in a comfy lounge chair, was hardly an inconvenience. But, had I been in the arctic deep freeze, you can bet I’d have kept the calls short.

  • The Good: Beyond the novelty of calling my parents and overseas friends from the middle of nowhere, having the satellite phone aboard ship enabled one passenger to learn of a life-saving new medical procedure - turning a ‘final voyage’ into a celebration of hope. Perfect for cruising.
  • The Bad: Outdoor-only capability might be a bit of a nuisance in cold or rainy climates where an international mobile might be a better alternative.
  • The Bottom Line: Small, light and water resistant and designed to travel, the 9505A is the ideal communications option for people who work in or travel to remote locations. Take it with you on your next trip.


Telestial Satellite Phone Service

Telestial satellite phone rental and purchase solutions offer service from industry leading satellite phone providers including Iridium and Globalstar.

For a brief introductory section on each satellite phone describing the highlights: coverage area, rates and popular features visit Telestial: Wireless Solutions for Travelers to find the satellite phone that best suits your needs.

Technical Specifications:
•    Water, shock & dust resistant for rugged environments
•    Data Capable (use your satellite phone to transmit and receive data with an optional adapter)
•    Global SMS
•    Headset/Hands-free capability
•    Simple GSM style dialing
•    Up to 30 hours of standby time/3.2 hours of talk time
•    Dimensions: 158L x 62W x 59D mm
•    Volume: Under 375cc (22.9 ci)
•    Weight:Under 375g (13.2 ounces)
•    3.2 hours Talk Time
•    30 hours Standby Time
•    Operating range: -10 to +55 ºC

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Ellen Barone has been creating words and images for travel and tourism since 1998. She co-founded and publishes the group travel blog and is currently at work on her first book "I Could Live Here".