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Satellite Phone

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  • squinne1@att.net
    Does anyone have a good recommedation for a satellite phone , what im looking for is one that allows decent prepaid minutes , i dont have to pay monthly fees
    Message 1 of 12 , Jul 23, 2014

      Does anyone have a good recommedation for a satellite phone , what im looking for is one that allows decent prepaid minutes , i dont have to pay monthly fees and can get them when i need them .. Is there such a phone ... also does it work well in the sierras ? thanks in advance . sq 

    • Ned Tibbits
      The Iridium phone Mountain Education has used for the past 4 or so years has served us well, but the prices are high! Ned Tibbits, Director Mountain Education,
      Message 2 of 12 , Jul 24, 2014
        The Iridium phone Mountain Education has used for the past 4 or so years has served us well, but the prices are high!
         
         
        Ned Tibbits, Director
        Mountain Education, Inc.
        www.mountaineducation.org
        ned@...


        Mission:
        "To minimize wilderness accidents, injury, and illness in order to maximize wilderness enjoyment, safety, and personal growth, all through experiential education and risk awareness training."
         
        Sent: Wednesday, July 23, 2014 10:07 PM
        Subject: [John Muir Trail] Satellite Phone
         
         

        Does anyone have a good recommedation for a satellite phone , what im looking for is one that allows decent prepaid minutes , i dont have to pay monthly fees and can get them when i need them .. Is there such a phone ... also does it work well in the sierras ? thanks in advance . sq

      • Jason Luban
        If you don t need to talk on the phone (text is ok), I just got a Delorme Explorer ($379) and they have monthly rates. On Thu, Jul 24, 2014 at 7:04 AM, Ned
        Message 3 of 12 , Jul 24, 2014
          If you don't need to 'talk' on the phone (text is ok), I just got a Delorme Explorer ($379) and they have monthly rates.


          On Thu, Jul 24, 2014 at 7:04 AM, 'Ned Tibbits' ned@... [johnmuirtrail] <johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com> wrote:
           

          The Iridium phone Mountain Education has used for the past 4 or so years has served us well, but the prices are high!
           
           
          Ned Tibbits, Director
          Mountain Education, Inc.
          www.mountaineducation.org
          ned@...


          Mission:
          "To minimize wilderness accidents, injury, and illness in order to maximize wilderness enjoyment, safety, and personal growth, all through experiential education and risk awareness training."
           
          Sent: Wednesday, July 23, 2014 10:07 PM
          Subject: [John Muir Trail] Satellite Phone
           
           

          Does anyone have a good recommedation for a satellite phone , what im looking for is one that allows decent prepaid minutes , i dont have to pay monthly fees and can get them when i need them .. Is there such a phone ... also does it work well in the sierras ? thanks in advance . sq


        • herbstroh
          I have a Globalstar which I am reasonably satisfied with. Reasonably because there are still gaps in coverage due to an incomplete satellite network,
          Message 4 of 12 , Jul 24, 2014
            I have a Globalstar which I am reasonably satisfied with. "Reasonably" because there are still gaps in coverage due to an incomplete satellite network, resulting in many dropped calls. The trade off is that the phone and plans are much cheaper than Iridium.

            They do work in the Sierra fine. Sat phones require a shot at the sky, so being in a deep canyon or heavy forest canopy will impact reception. But I have used it in the Grand Canyon without much trouble. If you just make a call a day or check for messages, a battery charge will last weeks. (But take the battery out when not in use so it does not accidentally turn on while in your pack).

            As to plans, there is a dizzying array of minutes/plans/options that you just have to sort through yourself to decide what you really need. Look around and you might find an introductory rate that will give you unlimited minutes for the initial term. My plan allows me to receive free text messages which is very useful--my wife texts me daily weather reports that I pull down each evening. If hiking solo, I call home every couple days and we both know the drill--the call starts with me giving my location, whether I am on route/schedule or off, and my intentions for the next day. She notes all of those things (she also has a set of whatever maps I took) so that if the call is dropped the basic info is conveyed. If something happens and I can't call for help, the search area is dramatically narrowed.

            Don't equate Sat phones to cell phones. They don't do tricks like your average smart phone, need a shot at the sky, and are not as light. But they do increase your margin of safety with a weight penalty of just 7 ounces.

            Herb
          • Ralph Alcorn
            The makers of the Spot device also make a SpotPhone, and sent me one for a review last year. I used it on the JMT between Onion Valley and Bishop Pass, and was
            Message 5 of 12 , Jul 24, 2014

              The makers of the Spot device also make a SpotPhone, and sent me one for a review last year. I used it on the JMT between Onion Valley and Bishop Pass, and was satisfied with it as an emergency device. They have quite a variety of minutes plans, both annual and monthly. The base price of the phone is $500 and a monthly plan with 40 minutes is about $40 per month. My review is at: http://timecheck00.blogspot.com/2013/11/spot-global-phone-satellite-phone-review.html


              --
              Ralph Alcorn
              backpack45.comtimecheck00.blogspot.com
              Shepherd Canyon books, Publisher of: Patagonia Chronicle: On Foot in Torres del Paine, Camino Chronicle: Walking to Santiago, We're in the Mountains, Not Over the Hill: Tales and Tips from Seasoned Women Backpackers  - all available on Kindle


            • Bobbie Surber
              Any thoughts on renting a satellite phone vs. purchasing a SPOT? https://www.vzwsatellite.com/products/iridium9505a thanks, Bobbie Thank you, Bobbie Bobbie
              Message 6 of 12 , Jul 24, 2014
                Any thoughts on renting a satellite phone vs. purchasing a SPOT?
                 
                thanks,
                Bobbie
                 

                Thank you,
                 
                Bobbie
                Bobbie Surber - LEED AP
                 
                 


                 
                     
              • rnperky@sbcglobal.net
                I have rented a satillite phone before when doing a section of the SHR. I have also used a SPOT, and I would use the SPOT over a sat phone. The sat phone costs
                Message 7 of 12 , Jul 24, 2014
                  I have rented a satillite phone before when doing a section of the SHR. I have also used a SPOT, and I would use the SPOT over a sat phone. The sat phone costs really start to add up quickly, even with the companies with the 'set' fees, they're heavier than a SPOT, and they are much more fragile than a SPOT. Unless you have a 'need' to stay in contact with someone for some important reason, I wouldn't bother with a sat phone.
                • medici95014
                  Bobbie and all: I ve owned a Globalstar for many years. It basically sucked until a few years ago when they started upgrading their satellite network. But I
                  Message 8 of 12 , Aug 1, 2014
                    Bobbie and all:

                    I've owned a Globalstar for many years.  It basically sucked until a few years ago when they
                    started upgrading their satellite network.  But I was on a "pay as you use it" plan so I
                    endured it.  Terrible coverage and calls dropped more often than not.

                    I rented an Iridium for my last trip to Anza-Borrego.  It worked pretty well, but I can't say
                    that I really tested it well on that trip.

                    Neither Globalstar or Iridium have a "pay as you use it" plan.  You're locked into a
                    monthly fee, use it or not.  Gets pretty expensive unless you take a lot of trips.

                    Sat phones are great if someone (e.g. wife) insists on a conversation for reassurance.
                    Otherwise, if you just need to confirm that you're OK, they're not necessary.

                    I'm going to try renting a DeLorme Inreach for my September trip and see how that
                    goes.  

                    Pete
                  • dr.suuz_2013
                    After a knee injury while descending south from Mather Pass last year, I was happy and incredibly lucky that the next hiker to go by had a satellite phone to
                    Message 9 of 12 , Aug 2, 2014
                    After a knee injury while descending south from Mather Pass last year, I was happy and incredibly lucky that the next hiker to go by had a satellite phone to contact the park service emergency number. I will carry one on future wilderness hikes.
                  • john_friend
                    I carried an Iridium satellite phone on my JMT trek last year. Here are my comments: It worked and served it s purpose (to keep family informed and as an
                    Message 10 of 12 , Aug 2, 2014
                      I carried an Iridium satellite phone on my JMT trek last year.  Here are my comments:
                      • It worked and served it's purpose (to keep family informed and as an emergency resource)
                      • My sat phone had built-in GPS which would let me text my GPS position to friends/family each day (which my wife appreciated)
                      • It queues up incoming text messages so when you turn on the phone and it establishes satellite connection, it will download any text messages awaiting your phone number.
                      • It was a ten key pad so typing text messages was very slow.
                      • Phone calls along the JMT were spotty at best.  Signal strength varied from zero to full strength depending upon whether there was a satellite overhead or whether the canyon walls blocked the direct line to the satellite.  Because the satellites are in low earth orbit and thus moving constantly, the signal strength varies both with time in the same spot and as you move.
                      • Over time, I learned that I could watch the signal strength indicator and as it moved from near zero and started increasing - that was the best time to place a call with the longest window of call time available.
                      • With patience, I was always able to get a call through, even from the depth of a canyon, but it was often a very short call (a few minutes).
                      • To my surprise, when I placed a call from the top of Forester Pass and I expected it to have full view of multiple satellites, I still wasn't able to talk for more than a few minutes without the call dropping.
                      • This phone was rented along with several batteries.  It was rented by someone else in our group (who dropped out of the trip and passed it to me) so I don't actually know how much the rental cost.  The rental included a certain number of minutes which was more than needed.
                      • Using the phone sparingly (sending a single text message each day and making one short call every other day), one battery lasted me from MTR to Whitney Portal (9 days), but it was pretty much out of juice by then.
                      • Though you are supposed to be able to receive calls, I would think that could be difficult at best.  Much better to have someone text you a number to call and you would call them back when you though you had a good signal window and time.  My experience was not that you could just be chatting away on the satellite phone as you hiked and expect good sound quality and no dropped calls.
                      • For battery management, you are going to want to turn on the phone, receive any queued up messages, send any messages or make any calls and then turn off the phone.
                      Overall, I was unimpressed with both the call quality and performance, but the phone served its purpose.
                    • john_friend
                      Sorry for the unreadable email (it is formatted with nice bulleted points if you read on the web vs. in email. Here s an attempt to make it more readable in
                      Message 11 of 12 , Aug 2, 2014
                        Sorry for the unreadable email (it is formatted with nice bulleted points if you read on the web vs. in email. Here's an attempt to make it more readable in email:

                        I carried an Iridium satellite phone on my JMT trek last year.  Here are my comments:

                        It worked and served it's purpose (to keep family informed and as an emergency resource)

                        My sat phone had built-in GPS which would let me text my GPS position to friends/family each day (which my wife appreciated)

                        It queues up incoming text messages so when you turn on the phone and it establishes satellite connection, it will download any text messages awaiting your phone number.

                        It was a ten key pad so typing text messages was very slow.

                        Phone calls along the JMT were spotty at best.  Signal strength varied from zero to full strength depending upon whether there was a satellite overhead or whether the canyon walls blocked the direct line to the satellite.  
                        Because the satellites are in low earth orbit and thus moving constantly, the signal strength varies both with time in the same spot and as you move.

                        Over time, I learned that I could watch the signal strength indicator and as it moved from near zero and started increasing - that was the best time to place a call with the longest window of call time available.

                        With patience, I was always able to get a call through, even from the depth of a canyon, but it was often a very short call (a few minutes).

                        To my surprise, when I placed a call from the top of Forester Pass and I expected it to have full view of multiple satellites, I still wasn't able to talk for more than a few minutes without the call dropping.

                        This phone was rented along with several batteries.  It was rented by someone else in our group (who dropped out of the trip and passed it to me) so I don't actually know how much the rental cost.  The rental included a certain number of minutes which was more than needed.

                        Using the phone sparingly (sending a single text message each day and making one short call every other day), one battery lasted me from MTR to Whitney Portal (9 days), but it was pretty much out of juice by then.

                        Though you are supposed to be able to receive calls, I would think that could be difficult at best.  Much better to have someone text you a number to call and you would call them back when you though you had a good signal window and time.  My experience was not that you could just be chatting away on the satellite phone as you hiked and expect good sound quality and no dropped calls.

                        For battery management, you are going to want to turn on the phone, receive any queued up messages, send any messages or make any calls and then turn off the phone.

                        Overall, I was unimpressed with both the call quality and performance, but the phone served its purpose.

                      • Ned Tibbits
                        Carrying a sat phone has always served Mountain Education well over the years. I notice that other wilderness schools send their leaders out with them, too.
                        Message 12 of 12 , Aug 3, 2014
                          Carrying a sat phone has always served Mountain Education well over the years. I notice that other wilderness schools send their leaders out with them, too. From the SAR point of view, it is a tremendous tool in the injured’s hands by which we can actually “hear” how well they are doing and thinking and we can directly ask them where they are and what they need. This way we can go in with the right equipment the first time and put fewer volunteers at risk.
                           
                           
                          Ned Tibbits, Director
                          Mountain Education, Inc.
                          www.mountaineducation.org
                          ned@...


                          Mission:
                          "To minimize wilderness accidents, injury, and illness in order to maximize wilderness enjoyment, safety, and personal growth, all through experiential education and risk awareness training."
                           
                          Sent: Saturday, August 02, 2014 3:58 AM
                          Subject: Re: [John Muir Trail] Re: Satellite Phone [1 Attachment]
                           
                           

                          After a knee injury while descending south from Mather Pass last year, I was happy and incredibly lucky that the next hiker to go by had a satellite phone to contact the park service emergency number. I will carry one on future wilderness hikes.

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