7E Communications
   

Satphone FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions - satphones

General

  1. How do the networks Thuraya, Iridium and Inmarsat (with its different services) compare?
  2. How do satellite phones work?
  3. What is an LES?
  4. Which Ocean Region should I use?
  5. Will I always be able to get a line?
  6. Are some LESs cheaper than others?
  7. Do the LESs have help desks?
  8. Is is harder to get a GAN (M4) HSD connection than an GAN (M4) voice connection?
  9. How do I install my SIM card?

Rental

  1. What are all the rental costs involved?
  2. Can I change which LES operates as my carrier?

General

1. How do the networks Thuraya, Iridium and Inmarsat (with its different services) compare?

Each network and service is designed for specific tasks - as such the choice of network depends on your intended use. Use our network comparison chart to learn more.

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1. How do Inmarsat satellite phones work?

Inmarsat satellite phones send and receive radio signals to and from satellites that are positioned 22,000 miles (approximately 36,000 km) above the Earth's equator. The satellites are geostationary, which means they hover above the same point on the earth's surface. The satellite relays the signal for the user to and from large fixed land earth stations (LES) around the world.

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2. What is an LES?

A Land Earth Station (LES) is a land base station which sends and receives radio waves to the geostationary satellites. The LES then connects to the terrestrial phone voice network (Public Switched Telephone Network - PSTN) or ISDN (Integrated Services Digital Network) depending on the type of call you're making.

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3. Which Ocean Region should I use?

There are four ocean regions :

  • Atlantic Ocean East Region (AOR-E)
  • Indian Ocean Region (IOR)
  • Pacific Ocean Region (POR)
  • Atlantic Ocean West Region (AOR-W)

7E services offer full coverage in all four ocean regions. Because the regions overlap you may be able to receive a working signal from two ocean region satellites. Choose the ocean region satellite which gives you the strongest signal.

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4. Will I always be able to get a line?

Very probably, but not always. Just as in very busy circumstances your cellphone cannot access the cellular network because it is congested, so too can all the channels to a satellite be busy. Either keep trying for a channel to become available or use another ocean region satellite if available.

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5. Are some LESs cheaper than others?

Yes there are variations. 7E has used most of the carriers and can offer a provider of the customer's choice. 7E normally uses Telenor and BT/Stratos for a balance between service, reliability and cost.

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6. Do the LESs have help desks?

Yes. They can be contacted 24 hours by dialling short code 33# from your SatPhone.

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7. Is it harder to get a GAN (M4) HSD connection than a GAN (M4) voice connection?

It can be in very busy circumstances because a HSD connection occupies more channels as it operates at 64Kbps compared to a voice connection at 4.8 Kbps. Also a stronger signal strength is required to be received by the SatPhone for HSD and so alignment of the antenna may be a little more critical.

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8. How do I install my SIM card?

This is a function of the individual make and model of SatPhone. Please read your manufacturer's manual for an explanation.

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Rental

1. What are all the rental costs involved?

Your total costs will comprise the terminal (Satphone) which is charged on a daily basis and Inmarsat air time which is for calls made timed on a per second basis. Both must be taken into account to arrive at total operating cost.

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2. Can I change which LES operates as my carrier?

Yes. For resilience 7E offers at least two LESOs (Land Earth Station Operators). You are normally able to select your preference, however there may be airtime cost differences.

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