A satellite phone is a mobile phone that relies on network or signals from satellites located above the earth. The satellites may be in two forms; geostationary satellites or Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites. The geostationary satellites are located about 35-40 kilometres above the earth's equator and rotate at the same speed as the earth's orbit. On the other hand, the LEO satellites are located between 500-1000 miles above the earth and make a full rotation in every 11/2 to 2 hours. The LEO's collectively work together to receive signals.
What do satellite phones do?
A satellite phone can therefore receive signals from virtually anywhere on earth, depending on the features. They can also make calls to regular phones. Depending on the characteristics, most satellite phones have low data capabilities, and hence are not suitable for browsing. Most of them will have limited texting capabilities especially the maximum number of characters. It is mostly limited to about 140 characters per text. Notably, it is impossible to switch between networks when you buy a satellite phone because they are network-specific. A satellite phone, from a company like TeleBiz, could be a real lifesaver during emergencies when your regular cell phone does not have a signal.
How do they work?
They operate by sending and receiving signals to the satellites explained above. For instance, if your satellite phone operates on the LEO network, when you attempt to make a call to another satellite phone, your phone will send a signal to the nearest LEO satellite, which will transmit the signal to another LEO satellite closest to the target phone, that will eventually send the signal to the target phone. When you call a regular phone, the signal will have to be transmitted to a station on earth that will eventually send it to the phone you are calling.
How much do they cost?
The initial cost of buying varies depending on the manufacturer, physical appearance and features. While you can get some phones at a lower price whether new or used, a modest phone will cost you about AU$ 500. The price keeps increasing depending on the features that the phone has; some may cost up to AU$ 2000 and above.
When using a satellite phone, you will have to pay for the airtime. On average, the cost of making a call from one satellite to another will cost you about AU$0.6 to AU$2 per minute. Notably, most service providers will give an airtime plan, usually a monthly plan, to purchase the airtime. The monthly plans reduce the overall costs and range from AU$20 to AU$100, give or take. It is costly, however, to call a regular phone. On average, it will cost you AU$20 per minute.