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Purchasing a satellite phone is very much like shopping for a cell
phone, just much more expensive. Sky high one might say. First
choose a satellite phone, then a satellite services provider, then a
satellite phone plan.

But how should you reach the best satellite phone plan for your
needs? Well, the process starts by first choosing between buying
a new or used satellite phone (or just renting one). For example,
a high-end Motorola 9505 handheld unit is about $1,500 new,
$1,000 used, and $20 a day to rent. Less fancy units sell for as
little as $300 used or $45 a week to rent. If you're heading to an
ultraremote location, be sure to bring along a solar-powered
battery charger.

Next, choose a provider. Satellite telecommunications companies
such as Globalstar and Iridium offer competitive plans and varied
coverage zones. Make sure that the provider you choose offers
services to your specific area. Once you have a provider, choose
a plan that best suits your needs. Like cell phone plans, satellite
phone companies offer package deals, prepaid calling cards and
free e-mail and text messaging. After you select the best plan,
shop online for the best price. There are dozens of satellite phone
retailers offering very competitive package deals.

What should you look for when choosing your plan:
- Buying versus renting
- Noncoverage zones
- Calling card plan
- Package deals
- Overall Tips & Warnings

Don't confuse Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM)
cellular phones with satellite phones that offer cellular service. GSM
phones don't use a satellite network. Most satellite phone companies
require a one-week minimum rental period and a large deposit.
Satellite airtime rates range from about 99 cents to $2 per minute
depending on the calling plan.

Satellite phones provide voice and data communications where
landlines donít reach and cell phones donít have coverage. They
communicate to an array of orbiting satellites and the satellites relay
your voice and data communications to terrestrial ground stations
and finally to a standard phone network. There are a large number
of satellites that form a constellation so you can use a satellite phon
e to communicate from virtually anywhere on the planet.

There are presently five major satellite phone service providers.
Most are geared to the business customer, but both Global Star and
Iridium have service plans that are in reach of the average person.
The satellite phones themselves are still rather bulky compared to
todayís cell phones, but the sizes are coming down and the prices
are dropping. You can find a good used satellite phone on eBay for
under $300. You can find a service plan that costs around $40 per
month for access and 1$ per minute for airtime. That is pretty
standard but you should shop around to find the best deal.

If you only need a satellite phone for your vacation or business trip
to the Antarctica, there are a number of companies that provide
satellite phone rental. You can normally rent a satellite phone on a
weekly or monthly basis with a nice set of standard features such
as voice mail, text messaging, and prepaid return back to the rental
agency. This is the way to go if you only need the phone for a short
time or you simply want to try the service before you make such a
large investment in equipment and service contracts.

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