What is a satellite phone and when do I need one?

Satellite phones have been in use for over two decades, yet there is still an air of confusion surrounding what they are and who they are used by.

The use of satellite phones is diverse, and they prove indispensable to a wide range of operations, businesses, and individuals. In a world of smartphones and 5G, it is easy to dismiss such rugged equipment, but satellite phones are crucial to many areas of modern life.

What are satellite phones?


A satellite phone is a mobile device that connects to the telephone network through satellites, rather than relying on terrestrial cell sites as cell phones do. This means that with a satellite phone you can stay connected in areas where cellular cover is not possible – for example, in the mountains, the desert, or the Poles.

Satellite networks are either Geostationary (GEO) or Low Earth Orbit (LEO). GEO satellites orbit above the equator, while LEO satellites orbit closer to the earth, and much more quickly.

Due to the curvature of the earth, GEO satellites cannot provide continuous service beyond a certain latitude, whereas a constellation of LEO satellites provides continuous, global coverage as the satellite moves. The low latency nature of LEO satellites allows for faster communications, while GEO networks often experience lag.

Satellite phones that utilise LEO networks are therefore indispensable to workers or individuals in remote areas of the planet, as they offer truly global coverage that is robust and reliable, while phones that utilise GEO networks act as a more affordable alternative to those whose needs are not as far reaching.

You may be surprised by the multitude of ways satellite phones can aid everyday life, ranging from operations and businesses, to the individual.

Who uses satellite phones?

Remote workers

Satellite phones enable those who work in remote locations to stay connected, even when well out of reach of cellular coverage.

This includes scientists based in areas such as the Polar Regions, soldiers conducting training or military operations, crews upon fishing vessels, and many more.

Satellite phones make these areas of work more efficient and easier than ever before. For example, a merchant seaman is able to speak to coastguards and other ships clearly rather than relying on radio, while scientists in remote corners of the world can communicate with each other and their headquarters effortlessly.

Workers also have a method of keeping in touch with friends and family; satellite phones can both make and receive calls.

Disaster response

Perhaps the most important use of satellite phones is for disaster aid.

Local infrastructure is often damaged when disasters such as earthquakes, tsunamis, or hurricanes strike, making cellular coverage impossible. Satellite phones enable coverage beyond terrestrial communications, which is vital to first responders who must be able to act quickly, and offers a fail-safe contingency plan.

In such scenarios, a satellite phone could mean the difference between life and death, as response teams are able to coordinate more effectively and act much more quickly.

An increasing number of people are buying personal satellite phones to protect themselves against losing contact in the event of disaster. A satellite phone is the only way to have a phone that will always work, no matter what.

The individual

People all across the world enjoy activities such as hiking, sailing, exploring, or remote hunting to get away from civilisation and enjoy nature.

However, this doesn’t always work out as planned. There are several risk factors involved when venturing into the wilderness, and being able to reach help if you need to is essential.

It is extremely likely that you won’t have phone service in these remote areas – a satellite phone offers a reliable solution, acting as a lifeline to emergency calls.

More simply, even those who decide to go off the grid often want a way to contact home. This is particularly useful for business persons who wish to contact their colleagues or tune into conference calls while holidaying in remote areas, such as the mountains or the seas.

With a satellite phone, staying connected is guaranteed.


The data speeds offered by satellite phones may seem outdatedly slow (ranging from 128bps to 1.4Mbps), but this is more than enough for the functions they perform.  In the most remote corners of the planet you can’t expect 5G connection, but with a satellite phone you can browse the web or send emails wherever you are. Many devices also have a built in USB port, meaning you can connect your laptop or smartphone to the network too.

Phones that connect to GEO satellite networks experience issues such as interrupted coverage, non-global reach, and sensitivity to obstacles such as buildings or mountains that block connection.  However, satellite phones that connect to LEO networks do not experience such issues, and offer truly global coverage.


Cellhire offers satellite phones that fall under each of these categories, as the former acts as a cheaper alternative for explorers and sailors who stay within the 70th north and south parallels, while the latter acts as a fail-safe option to those in need of truly global coverage.


These come in the form of the Inmarsat IsatPhone 2 and two models of Iridium phone respectively. If you’re cost conscious and apprehensive to buy, you can rent these satellite phones from Cellhire so you can stay safe and connected anywhere on the planet for an affordable price.

Although guaranteeing global coverage, it is important you research local laws before you travel as some countries don’t permit the use of satellite devices.

Visit the Cellhire website out find out more.



Iridium Certus is changing the world

It is the only network able to provide a connection anywhere on the planet, through voice, text, and data – even in the polar regions.

Iridium Certus will greatly benefit almost all businesses and operations, so here’s everything you need to know about the latest, most advanced satellite device on the market.

What is Iridium Certus?  

Iridium Certus is a multi-service platform enabled by Iridium NEXT, the $3 billion satellite constellation of 66 low orbit satellites. It is the only truly global mobile satellite service on the planet and offers the highest speed connectivity available.

Powered by Iridium NEXT, Iridium Certus does not rely on ground-based infrastructure, allowing connections to travel above the earth’s surface uninterrupted – regardless of weather or terrain. This is what enables Iridium Certus to provide greater reach and speed than any other wireless mobile network. Through a range of accessories, IoT products, satellite phones and more, Iridium Certus will keep you connected anywhere on the planet.

For the first time, one terminal can deliver a range of services, from multiple high-quality voice calls to the highest L-band connection available. The previous generation of Iridium satellites provided communication speeds of up to 128bps, while the upgraded Iridium Certus offers 700bps, with 1.4Mbps to be available soon.

While this may not sound very fast in a world where 5G continues to spread, this is astoundingly fast for a satellite, and will be plenty for the applications required.

But how will Iridium Certus be integrated into the worlds of business, government, and the individual?

A diverse range of applications will utilise Iridium Certus. Its support of broadband, narrowband voice, and data capabilities makes it indispensable to a scope of industries, including maritime, land mobile, aviation, the government, and IoT.


Iridium Certus offers the maritime industry a solution to the problems it has faced for years, as mariners have struggled to maintain connectivity at sea due to remote locations and bad weather.

Iridium Certus’ L-band frequency means that sailors will be connected anywhere on the seas, and weather will never influence the quality of the connection. The Iridium network therefore offers countless advantages to business operations, safety services, IoT applications, and crew welfare, as services range from navigational devices to simply using the web.

For example, the reliable Certus network is ideal for fishing ships handling catch information, monitoring weather, or communicating across fleets in the region. Workboats will never ‘go dark’ again, while Government ships such as research vessels have access to low latency communications. This is possible because communications travel above the earth, allowing for consistent bandwidth anywhere across the globe.

In terms of IoT, the Iridium network coupled with its L-Band architecture means that rigs, buoys, and both attended and autonomous platforms can be connected and tied into a corporate network that is robust and reliable.

Iridium Certus occupies the leading market position for stand-alone and VSAT companion use. Vessels that already use VSAT can augment their existing platform with global Iridium Certus coverage, creating an ideal hybrid solution that combines the benefits of low earth orbit with geostationary orbit, as well as the benefits of L-band and Ku-band.

On a more simple level, leisure sailors will find it easier than ever before to stay connected while on the seas, with guaranteed and uninterrupted voice calls, texts, or data suitable for browsing the web or sending emails.

Land Mobile:

The Certus network enables users to extend their mobile use into remote areas where usual mobile networks cannot reach, while avoiding expensive ground-based infrastructure.

This is useful in a plethora of ways; through providing remote transportation with information; enabling the military with dependable communications during training or special operations; allowing scientists in isolated areas (such as the poles) to exchange information; and enabling immediate broadcasting in remote locations.

Perhaps most importantly, Iridium Certus offers a global solution to aide disaster response. Local infrastructure is often damaged when disasters such as earthquakes, tsunamis, or hurricanes strike. Iridium Certus provides reliable coordination and information access beyond terrestrial communications, which is vital to first responders who must be able to act quickly.

Iridium also offers hybrid solutions to enhance 5G, 4G, or 3G connectivity. Terrestrial networks cover less than 20% of the earth, and Iridium Certus will ensure that communications are never disrupted as individuals who travel or work in remote locations move in and out of cellular coverage.


Building upon Iridium’s established voice and data satellite services, Iridium Certus adds a high performance broadband service that connects the entire aircraft, keeping crew and passengers alike connected through email, internet, voice, and data.

Iridium Certus has also introduced Aireon, the first ever global flight-surveillance system. Iridium NEXT is the only satellite constellation with the capability and reach to enable global air traffic surveillance, all thanks to its orbital configuration.

The low earth orbit altitude allows aircraft signals to be received without any changes to the aircraft or additional equipment. This will enable real-time delivery of information to Air Traffic Control. If such a system had existed in 2014, the Malaysian Airlines flight 370 would not have disappeared.

On a commercial level, airlines will be capable of offering its passengers high speed broadband to aircrafts of any size. With easily applicable, low-weight antennas, air-travel will be safer, more efficient, and more enjoyable than ever.

US Government:

The Iridium constellation is invaluable to US government operations, demonstrated by the support shown by the Pentagon in 2000. The costs of the Iridium NEXT constellation almost caused the company to go bankrupt, but the Pentagon prevented this with a $72 million two-year contract to serve its 20,000 US government users. With the updated Iridium NEXT constellation, the network will continue to aid the government in unprecedented ways.

Iridium Certus can help mobilise and monitor personnel, data, and assets on the ground, even when they are beyond the reach of terrestrial networks. It offers reliable, robust, real-time voice and data command and control communications required for military, scientific, and research operations.

Iridium Certus provides a secure solution that supports the mission-critical requirements of the military, including hardware that is capable of withstanding high-risk combat zones and turbulent weather.

Internet of Things:

Iridium has partnered with Amazon Web Services to develop Iridium CloudConnect, which aims to be the first and only satellite cloud-based solution offering truly global coverage for Internet of Things applications later in 2019.

Iridium CloudConnect will lower costs, provide faster speeds to market, reduce risk, and allow customers to enjoy complete global connectivity for their solutions.

Matt Desch, Iridium CEO, expects CloudConnect to cater at first to large products, such as cargo ships or agricultural equipment, but will move to smaller and smaller vehicles, such as drones.

Any IoT device connected through the Iridium network will speak natively with Amazon’s cloud-based server and user interfaces, allowing end-to-end data transmission that is wider-reaching, cheaper, and faster than ever before.

Together with its ecosystem of partner companies, Iridium offers truly global communication for the first time ever.

It is hard to imagine an area of business, government work, or personal life in which Iridium Certus could not be utilised. Iridium’s vision of connecting the entire planet is slowly coming to fruition, and the benefits to be had are endless.