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Satelite Phones Today
Author: Steve Gee

The world has come a long way since the early days of the 'Sputnik'! Satellite systems are now providing both voice and data communication for parts of the world where there is little or no land or cell phone provision. Using satellite telephones help you to keep in contact when you are in the air or out at sea. They also help us to track and remain in contact with adventurers who test the limits of endurance and skill. We are able to follow their routes, talk to them and receive images and movies from wherever they may be and we can be instantly ready to help them when things don't go quite according to the plan.

How does it work? A signal is transmitted from the satelite phone, via an antenna to an orbiting network of satellites then back to a ground station and a standard phone network. Sounds good, eh? However, the line of sight signal path between satelite telephone antenna and satellite must not be obstructed. Even bad weather can be a problem. Reception is generally much better outdoors but if you are on a boat or in a plane an external antenna might be needed.

Right now there are five major satellite phone service providers. Global Star and Iridium are still the largest. They offer an array of options for both businesses and the average person in the street. Iridium is perhaps the best known of them all for a variety of reasons. The company uses a network of 66 operational low-earth-orbit satellites and they have an additional 13 spare satellites too. The satellites are in orbits roughly 485 miles above the surface of the Earth.

These companies supply communications equipment to a huge variety of markets such as leisure, maritime, government, construction and mining. The military is also a big user of satellite phones as are disaster relief organisations. The services are sold through a marketing network of value-added resellers, service partners and manufacturers.

Wherever there is a need for good, reliable, work-anywhere communications you will find satellite phones in use. The military make use of them extensively, as do airlines and shipping. They can also be invaluable in areas where disaster has struck and it's likely that land based communications have been disrupted by the disaster or they never existed in the first place. Satellite phones can be easily tracked too. This can come in useful when guiding aircraft quickly into isolated areas.

On a more serious note, satellite phones are also being used in the fight against terrorism. To protect the Alaskan pipeline where it is vulnerable, trucks passing close by are fitted with satellite phones. If the truck is hijacked a signal is sent via the network and the vehicle can be disabled immediately.

Satellite telephones are still a very expensive method of communication; it's far more expensive than most calls from cellular phones. However, the technology will continue to advance and when the usage becomes more widespread, you should see the costs fall considerably. At the time of writing call costs appear to be comparable with the cost of cell phones with international roaming. To give the consumer market a bit of a boost and as a public relations exercise, the industry is currently in fund raising with a view to making satellite phones and free calls available to the US National Guard serving in Iraq.

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Steve would be very pleased to share more information about satellite phones with you. Please take a look at Satellite Phone www.satellite-phone.thecatcollar.com



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