New Electronics

By George Otto ~ February 3rd, 2014. Filed under: New Electronics.

New Electronics

Most mariners own a smart phone thinking that it eliminates the need for a satellite phone. But handheld satellite phones are a great safety feature, and every mariner should clearly understand the difference between a satellite phone and a cellphone—whether (the phone is) smart or otherwise.

A satellite handheld does one important thing really well: it enables communication when there is no other way to communicate. Smart phones, while loaded with features, work only when they can connect with cell towers, and there are very few of those in the open ocean or sparsely populated cruising destinations. In contrast, satellite phones operate when their antennae have a “clear view” of a satellite in orbit, which can be anywhere on land or water regardless of cell tower location.

The difference between the three major sat phone brands available in North America are driven by the different types of satellite constellations each uses. All three satellite communication systems have one thing in common—their satellites are accessed through ground stations that act as gateways between the regular earth-based phone and internet system, and the satellite arrays themselves.

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