One question that often gets asked in the world of global communications is the difference between Mobile phones and a Satellite phone.
We have all become familiar with the use of Satellite technology as part of our day to day lives through the use of Satellite television in our homes and Satellite navigation in our cars and vehicles.
Satellite communication has played a very important part in space travel and discovery, however for the last two decades has also played a very important part in communication on earth, allowing communications to reach the most remote areas of civilisation both on land and at sea.
The two pieces of technology are ultimately designed to perform the same operation which is to provide a tool of communication between two parties.
However, the way that they operate based on the underlying technology platform couldnt be more different.
The first Satellite phone was introduced onto the market in the early 1990s. However mobile phones were found to be the more attractive proposition due to the fact that the satellite phone companies had problems with the satellite network meaning problems with coverage, dropped calls and the quality of the call.
There are two main satellite infrastructures that service Satellite phones. These are known as Iridium and Globalstar which between them no server over 200,000 clients.
The main difference between a satellite phone and a mobile phone is the infrastructure that they use to communicate with other devices. A satellite phone sits on a network of satellites that orbit the earth. This allows for global coverage as the signals pass from satellite to satellite to connect devices around the globe. A mobile phone however uses static transmitters installed on land. This means that coverage in remote areas or at sea is next to impossible. This is why mobile phones are not workable solutions when it comes to crisis management or remote workers. Very often a satellite phone is the only option to ensure communication between a base camp and remote workers.
Many Satellite phones utilize a network of Low Earth orbit satellites. This means that the signals have less distance to travel resulting in improved coverage and better quality of call. However, in some circumstances Satellites nearly as far as 50,000km above the earth are used to relay signals to other satellites.
Naturally, the huge difference in Infrastructure means that Satellite phones can be more costly to use than mobile phones and this is probably the reason they havent been more successful in the common market place, especially with Mobile Phone operators driving down the cost of rentals and call time to compete with the competition.
Perhaps the one downfall of the Satellite phone is that it requires a direct line of sight with the satellite. Therefore, in a dense area such as a rain forest or city central the quality of call may suffer or you may experience a higher dropped call rate than usual.