So, you want to stay in touch when cruising outside of cellphone coverage areas. One of the best choices is a portable satellite phone. With some phones offered free with coverage plans, a sat phone might rank as the most cost-effective means of global voice and text communications.
Today there are a number of sat-phone models and calling plans ranging from $26 a month to thousands of dollars a year. Three of the major brands are Inmarsat, Iridium and Globalstar. The Inmarsat IsatPhone 2 features a water- and shock-resistant design, and retails for as little as $599, but retailers such as satellite phonestore.com offer it free with an $89.95 (100 minutes per month) monthly plan and a one-year contract. The IsatPhone 2 features global coverage (with the exception of the poles), GPS, Bluetooth, SMS, an SOS button, and a battery that powers eight hours of talk time.
Iridium’s Extreme 9575 sat phone retails for as little as $705 with a deluxe case at satphonestore.com. Basic plans start at $39.95 a month for global coverage, but you need to pay an additional $0.99 for voice calling (in or out) and $0.50 for an outgoing text message. Incoming texts do not incur an extra charge. The 9575 includes military-grade toughness, an SOS button, and a battery that offers four hours of talk time.
The Globalstar GSP-1700 sat phone is the least expensive in this group, retailing new for as little as $500, with refurbished models selling at $375 at satphonestore.com. Plans start at $64.99 per month for 100 minutes at satellitephonestore.com. Globalstar does not offer the wide-ranging coverage of the others, but does extend well into the North Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean. The GSP-1700 includes a position location service and up to four hours of talk time on a single battery charge.