A satellite phone is a smart and important purchase almost on par with a new car, but that doesn’t stop most people from rushing into the decision. In fact, most customers continue to make the same mistakes during their shopping and thus fail to procure a device that will serve them well on their travels.
The truth is that satellite phone products come in all shapes and sizes, and weighing one’s options to find the perfect device for one’s needs is absolutely crucial to ensure a positive satellite phone experience. While shopping for a satellite phone or product, avoid these common blunders to select a device perfect for you.
Believing the Myths
As with any device that has not quite breached popular use, the satellite phone is rife with legend and mythology. People who do not understand how the technology works think that satellite phones have almost magical properties, meaning misinformation is plentiful outside regular users. Here are a few of the most common myths that have no foundation in reality.
- Cell phones and satellite phones are the same. Actually, cell phones can only receive service from land-based towers, meaning the scope of their connection is severely limited. In contrast, sat phones connect via satellites orbiting the Earth, so they have substantially larger regions of service. There are no cell phones capable of receiving satellite service.
- Satellite phones don’t work inside or under heavy cloud cover. It’s true that sat phones work best when one has a clear view of the sky, but modern antennas are usually powerful enough to pick up a signal even under cover or during an intense rain storm.
- Satellite phones don’t work during a power outage. Traditional landline phones and even cell phones rely on towers tethered to the electricity grid for their service. Because sat phones gain connection from satellites not connected with the ground, they’ll continue to receive service even if civilization as we know it begins crumbling around us.
Not Considering Extra Features
The greater population only understands satellite phones from what they see in movies and television — chunky, monochrome devices used only for voice communication. However, satellite phones have come a long way from the bricks that directors put on screen. While all models do allow for voice calls, most contain the ability to text message, and a handful even boast similar capabilities to smart phones, with satellite Internet connection, Bluetooth, and other recognizable features.
Of course, phones that carry more features will be more expensive, and their providers’ plans will be more complicated. Before you immediately opt for the fancier phone, consider exactly why you need it. Are you carrying the sat phone as a last resort for safety communications in remote countryside, or are you using it as an assured means of contacting the home office while you are visiting a foreign city on business? Everyone will have a distinct set of necessary features, and you should make a list of yours before you make a purchase.
Not Reviewing Plans
Most people take time to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of disparate cell phone providers’ plans, but unfortunately, the same is not always true of satellite phone plans. Usually, you must consider the service maps, data usage, and voice minutes to make sure they match with what you expect to use. The same is true of satellite phones. Carefully read and review satellite phone plans before accepting one as absolute; different phones and providers offer different services, so you should search for a plan that matches your projected usage.
Assuming Buying Is the Only Option
Satellite phones can be costly to buy outright, and it is discouraging to view high prices when one simply can’t predict what features one will need in the future. Luckily, renting a satellite phone is a common and encouraged practice that allows for more freedom in the phone selection process.
Renting instead of purchasing offers the opportunity to experiment with a new phone each time, giving travelers more options for features and plans to suit the needs of each trip perfectly. By renting, you don’t need to settle with a standard model that will work passably in a range of locations; instead, each trip you can sample a top-of-the-line phone with exciting features, and you’ll avoid the cost of owning and maintaining your own device.
Eventually, if you find a phone that you enjoy using more than any other, you can opt to make it your own, but until you fall in love with a particular sat phone, renting might be a smarter choice.
Deciding Against a Satellite Phone
Sometimes, even after exhaustive research, travelers decide against using a satellite phone. This is unquestionably the biggest mistake of all. Visiting foreign lands without an assured means of communication is asking for the worst kind of disaster. A broken ankle on a mountainside is bad enough, but the inability to call emergency services for aid ensures a severe worsening of the condition — not to mention that one might not be able to reach aid before supplies and stamina wear out.
More than anything, a satellite phone is a necessary first aid tool, and any experienced traveler understands the peace of mind it grants during all types of tourism.