Until now, if you are one of the many travelers, adventures, off-gridders, or if you just happen to find yourself in an area with no cell phone coverage, there has been little hope of finding a way to access the internet. At least not at reasonable speeds or prices. Current MSS (Mobile Satellite Service) portable technology offerings are painfully slow. The Iridium satellite phone can connect to the internet about 2.4kbps (Kilo-bits per second) and Globalstar’s old network can handle about 9.6kbps. These tiny data rates are barely usable, except for simple text based emails at best. Even an old dial-up phone connection via a modem could manage 56kbps! Don’t even think about trying to read your favorite online news page, let alone anything more data intensive. But don’t be too hard on these satellite operators. Keep in mind that the satellites that the MSS providers have been operating (Globalstar and Iridium for example) are in their second decade of operation! Old technology for sure. It is possible to use more bulky and expensive satellite equipment to achieve higher data rates. However these solutions do not lend themselves to being easily carried around, and equipment and usage fees can be extreme.
What we need are some new satellites, new ground infrastructure and new consumer devises to access the satellite network.
Enter Globalstar. With a new constellation of satellites recently launched, new Earth Stations coming on line as we speak and new consumer devices being developed, users are on the cusp of a huge leap in capabilities. The launch of the new Globalstar Sat-Fi 2® product is currently scheduled to happen sometime this Summer, 2016. This product will be revolutionary in the MSS product segment.
The Globalstar Sat-Fi 2® works as a WIFI Hotspot, supporting up to eight smartphones simultaneously. An app is installed on the smartphones to access the Sat-Fi II® functions. The connection is completed by a radio link from the Sat-Fi II® to the satellite and back down to the ground. The installed app allows users the capabilities of web browsing, email, 2-way texting, voice calls, data, weather updates and more. Apps are planned to be provided for Apple, Android and Windows OS smartphones, tables, or laptops that have Wi-Fi connectivity. The data rates available will be up to 256kbps. This is up to 100 times faster than previously available from a MSS device!
The final product details have not yet been released, so the size of the Sat-Fi II® device is still to be determined, but is expected to be roughly the size of a pack of cigarettes. It is also planned to be light weight and waterproof. The Sat-Fi II® will have its own USA based telephone number. An “S.O.S.” button will provide a quick connection to the GEOS emergency response center. GEOS can then provide your GPS co-ordinates to the local response teams.
We at Globalcom are excited to see this new product, and we will provide updates as more information becomes available. Sat-Fi 2® pricing has yet to be announced, but stay tuned and we will keep you posted!