Satellite Communication - Iridium, Inmarsat, Thuraya, Vsat

Friday, March 12, 2010

TSF to flies to Chile Earthquake zone

01-03-2010 - A team of communications specialists from aid agency Télécoms Sans Frontières (TSF) has flown to Chile in response to one of the most powerful earthquakes in the world for 100 years.

Inmarsat-sponsored TSF dispatched a team from its base in Nicaragua to provide vital communications technical assistance for local and international relief agencies in the worst-affected zones.

The quake, which measured 8.8 on the Richter scale, struck at 01:00 local time on Saturday, 27 February, centred on a 90km area around the the city of Concepción, 340km (212 miles) south of the capital, Santiago.

Aftershocks of 7.5 continued to batter the country and the death toll, initially estimated at about 700, is expected to rise further because of the number of missing people.
A spokesman for TSF said: "We believe that telecommunications in Chile have been damaged considerably - and the fact that the airport at Santiago is closed because of the destruction caused - means that access will be very difficult.
"Chile's president Michelle Bachelet has indicated priority will be given to getting communications functioning.

Tsunami warnings
"We have deployed a team of ICT specialists from our regional base in Managua and we will be sending reinforcements as quickly as possible from our headquarters in France and Bangkok."
Each TSF team is equipped with BGAN to provide support for emergency co-ordination centres, as well as Inmarsat Mini M for humanitarian calling operations.

Fears the quake could send a tsunami across the Pacific led to the Tsunami Warning Centre, based in Hawaii, issuing warnings to 53 countries. Shore authorities subsequently released alerts to shipping on the SafetyNET Inmarsat C Enhanced Group Call (EGC) system.
The Tsunami Warning Centre later lifted the warnings when the waves that came ashore on Japan proved to be minimal.

Source: Inmarsat


Sunday, March 7, 2010

Iditarod Sled Dog Race

Iridium Communications Inc. is providing satellite voice and data services for the Iditarod® Sled Dog Race, which began March 5 in Anchorage, Alaska.

Each of the participating sleds is equipped with a lightweight battery-powered GPS tracking device, which will transmit the sled's location, speed, heading, altitude and air temperature every 15 minutes through the Iridium satellite network to provide a vital safety communications lifeline for the race's mushers, dogs and volunteers. Race officials and fans can view the latest position and status of each competitor on a 3-D map on the Iditarod Website. This not only comes in handy for race monitoring, but also because it allows for a regular stream of data on the racers and sled dogs. 55 Iridium satellite phones will be used by race officials and volunteers during the race.

The Iditarod trail, which snakes across more than 1,000 miles through the Alaskan wilderness from Anchorage to Nome, covers some of the world's harshest terrain. Most of the route – particularly through the center of Alaska – is not covered by terrestrial landlines, cellular networks or other satellite communication services.

"Iridium is the only satellite system providing reliable coverage in all of Alaska," said Stan Hooley, executive director of the Iditarod Trail Committee (ITC). "The Iridium tracking devices and phone handsets will again provide a critical safety lifeline for mushers, dogs, veterinarians, medics, media, bush pilots and volunteers who man the isolated checkpoints along the trail."



Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Iridium helps in Haiti

February 22, 2010 - Iridium Communications announced today that the Mexican Red Cross, the United Nations and multiple other Mexican government agencies have increased their usage of Iridium 9555 satellite phones in support of Haiti relief and recovery efforts.
These customers had the ability to make their Iridium phones and service operational within minutes of arriving in Haiti for use following the January 2010 earthquake, which made land-based and cellular communications unavailable.

"Instant communications play a vital role in our ongoing disaster relief and recovery efforts," said Isaac Oxenhaut, national disaster relief coordinator of the Mexican Red Cross. "The Mexican Red Cross is using Iridium service for reliable, real-time communications between our team in Haiti and our headquarters in Mexico."

"Iridium is a mission-critical component of relief organizations operations. Our service is the only reliable mobile option after a disaster when terrestrial infrastructure is down," said Greg Ewert, executive vice president, global distribution channels, Iridium. "Iridium handsets are simple to use and make training a straightforward process for first responders. This is valuable to relief organizations, which have a regular stream of new volunteers and expanding missions."

Source: Iridium


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Power Gorilla Review

Found an interesting short burst review about the Power Gorilla backup charger, below are some snippets from Gizmodo:

"The Gadget: The Powergorilla, an 8.5 x 5 inch brick of a battery that charges laptops, phones, and many other portable devices on the go via different connectors. You can adjust voltage options between 16, 19 or 24v, and the on-board LCD screen will show you your selection and how much juice is left in the unit. The battery gives you about two to five extra hours for your laptop, and about 20 on smaller gadgets like phones.

The Verdict: It works pretty perfectly. In our tests, the Powergorilla gave our MacBook Pro an extra 2.5 hours of battery life in everyday blogging usage (Wi-Fi on, lots of app open). That's on top of whatever the internal battery already supplies. The unit doesn't come with a MagSafe adapter (needed for macbooks), because of Apple's proprietary patent, so you'll have to buy a MagSafe airline adapter and connect via that.

Charging phones is an easier premise. As long as your phone can charge from USB, you're set. If not, there are other more proprietary tips and adapters that come with the unit. We couldn't test this ourselves, but Powertraveller also claims that the Powergorilla has many safety features, including voltage limitation, short circuit/voltage/overheat protection. Those are good things to have if you're operating this on an airplane.

Do we recommend this as a gadget? Definitely. Two and a half hours of backup laptop battery is always welcome (more if your laptop draws less power than the beefy 15-inch MacBook Pro), and the ability to emergency-charge your phones, iPods and GPS devices on the go is very handy. "


Monday, February 15, 2010

Iridium 9505A Review

Found an interesting article or review about the old 9505A Iridium satellite phone. It has been replaced by the 9555 model now days but you can still find these and purchase them second hand. Article below:

"Iridium 9505A: The World’s Top Satellite Phone Model
Mobile phones can be incredibly useful but when you’re not near terrestrial mobile sites or otherwise out in the middle of nowhere, your phone isn’t going to get reception and that’s where satellite phones come into play. These phones are typically larger and more expensive than the average cell phone but they also offer some huge advantages. If you’re ever in Australia for instance, you can use a satellite phone such as the Iridium 9505A and be good to go.

All About the Iridium 9505A
Especially when you’re traveling to a place like the Great Outback, you need to make sure that you’re covered in case anything happens. There are satellite phones other than the Iridium 9505A available through Iridium and other satellite phone providers as well, but this is certainly one of the top models and for good reason. The Iridium 9505A is a rugged and reliable phone that you can take anywhere and as long as there’s a clear view of the sky you can get reception.

The Iridium 9505A provides you with up to 30 hours of standby time and 3 hours of talk time. With an illuminated holographic display and international access key sequence, it’s functional and easy to use. The volume adjustment allows you to make it quieter or louder based on your own personal preference. As well, the Iridium 9505A saves the last ten numbers dialed, features one-touch dialing and an automatic display call timer.
The Iridium 9505A is a satellite phone that really is great to have around. You can get prepaid minutes on it so there’s no need to worry about paying monthly for a plan as satellite phones are typically used much less than mobile phones. The Iridium 9505A will always offer great reception and because it’s water and dust resistant you can even taking it when you’re hiking to the top of the mountains in the Outback.

While the internal components of the Iridium 9505 recently became obsolete and are no longer supported the basic features remain the same on the new Iridium 9505A phone. The new Iridium 9505A is also compatible with more accessories which includes chargers, data kits and batteries.

It’s definitely a relief to know that you have the Iridium 9505A on hand especially when you’re visiting a new place. In a place like Australia where there is little to no reception in most locations, the Iridium 9505A can be a blessing. You can do more things and know that if there ever is an emergency you can call and get help.
There are satellite phones other than the Iridium 9505A available through Iridium and other satellite phone providers as well, but this is certainly one of the top models and for good reason. Iridium is a name that you can trust in and this is one of their best-selling models. Just make sure that you have the Iridium 9505A with you so that you’ll be safe and able to get help no matter where you are."

Source: Talkswithme


Thursday, February 4, 2010

Paralysed sailor fulfils dream

British sailor Geoff Holt, set out to become the first quadriplegic to sail single-handedly across the Atlantic.

Fortunately Geoff, aged 43, had the support of Inmarsat's Thrane & Thrane Sailor FleetBroadband 500 on his 4,340km (2,700-mile) voyage from Lanzarote in the Canary Islands to Tortora in the British Virgin Islands.
And thanks to FleetBroadband, he was able to update his blog, upload videos and be interviewed by news channels - including the BBC, who sponsored his airtime.

Diving accident
Geoff completed his journey on 7 January, arriving in the very spot where a diving accident in shallow water left him paralysed from the chest down 25 years ago.
"I wanted to make landfall at Cane Garden Bay, the place where it all started, so that was very emotional," he said.
"As I sailed in there must have been over 1,000 people on the beach, all clapping and cheering and waving flags."
The videos shot by Digby were sent to Geoffs website and the BBC via FleetBroadband.
Source: Inmarsat


Monday, February 1, 2010

Charge your Laptop and other gadgets

Did you ever spend the whole night preparing for a presentation, only to find out that your laptop is running out of power during the presentation? Wouldn't it be great if you could charge your laptop with a portable battery charger in the middle of your presentation?

ROAM WILD with the ultimate portable charger...

The SatComms charger (24V) will give you an extra 2-5 hours of power, depending on your laptops specification, and over 20 hours on various other electronic devices.

Charger (24V) will work with devices up to 24volts - so from your laptop, right the way down to your mobile phone or iPod and even Iridium Satellite Phone! Just select which voltage you require; 5v, 8.4v, 9.5, 12v, 16v, 19v or 24v and the LCD screen will indicate which setting has been chosen. Then simply hook up your gadget and away you go!

One-touch button technology means the SatComms charger (24V) for laptops is easy to use and its sleek, aluminium casing with shock resistant rubber protection strips makes it totally robust.

It also has many safety features including output auto-lock, voltage limitation protection, short circuit protection, over charging protection and over heat protection.

The SatComms Charger (24V) has also been on field tests out in Afghanistan, Madagascar, Zambia, Antarctica and Norway. Being subjected to extremely hot and very cold temperatures, the SatComms Charger (V24) has successfully charged numerous laptops without fault!

Kit Includes:
- portable laptop charger
- neoprene travel case
- tip pack containing 8 male and 7 female laptop connectors
- tip pack containing connectors for most small devices
- 12v car charger socket
- universal AC laptop charger

Lightweight (631g), portable (220 x 130 x 15mm) and tough.

To use with Macbook Pro, Macbook Air and Macbook you will need an Apple MagSafe Airline Adaptor. Please note, the MagSafe cable is only suitable for Apple Macs incorporating the MagSafe style of connector. If you are unsure if your Mac uses Magsafe, please email - you may require the L77D tip for the older Mac laptops (such as powerbook.). The MagSafe cable will only POWER laptops, not charge them.


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

New Satellite Phone - Isatphone Pro

Inmarsat will be releasing their new Isatphone in June. This means we should have our stock of this new satphone by then (we will keep you up to date on this). The images look great and the functionality is alot better than the current Isatphone.

The below is from the Inmarsat press release:

'The first images of the IsatPhone Pro have been released to coincide with the announcement of the first call to be made using the new global handheld phone.
The IsatPhone Pro, which will be launched in June, will offer satellite telephony - with Bluetooth for hands-free use - as well as voicemail, SMS text and email messaging. Location data will also be available to the user to look up or send in a text message.
"The first call is a significant milestone, and we're pleased with the voice quality in initial tests," said Helen Stalker, commercial director of Global Satellite Phone Services at Inmarsat.

Robust handset
"IsatPhone Pro is the ultimate combination. It's a robust handset that's easy to use, has long battery life, and offers a reliable global network connection.
"And it's provided by Inmarsat, the market leader, with 30 years' experience in providing global mobile satellite services."
The Isatphone Pro has successfully passed a number of key milestones ahead of its launch in June.

Ground network
The upgrade of Inmarsat's ground network has been completed by Lockheed Martin, and further testing on the integration between the handset and the ground network continues as planned.
The handset itself has been developed by Sasken Communications Technologies, which has led similar programmes for most of the world's top mobile phone operators.
Production of the IsatPhone Pro is being undertaken by Elcoteq, the world's third largest manufacturer of mobile phones, at its facility in Tallinn, Estonia.
Professional users

The Isatphone Pro is targeted initially at professional users in the government, media, aid, oil and gas, mining and construction sectors.'

Source: Inmarsat


Monday, January 25, 2010

How can I display my SIM card phone number on my Iridium phone?

Step 1 - Press Menu until you see "Phone Book", and then press "OK" to select.

Step 2 - Press Menu untill you see "My Phone Number(s)", and then press "OK" to select.

Step 3 - Your SIM card phone number will be displayed.

Step 4 - Press and hold "C" to exit the menu.

Monday, January 18, 2010

BGan Service Update

If you are a user of an Inmarsat BGan device in Haiti and have been having problems connecting or slow connectivity then the below alert may explain everything.

'As you will be aware, the emergency response situation in the island of Haiti is creating higher than normal demand on BGAN services in the region. As such, Inmarsat has taken the necessary steps to immediately provide additional capacity in this region to support the ongoing recovery.

Inmarsat continues to monitor the situation as demand fluctuates and will address further capacity requirements wherever possible. However, we also realise that it may not be possible to serve the requirements of all customers at all times and ask for your cooperation in managing expectations during the post-earthquake rescue period.'

Source: Inmarsat


Friday, January 15, 2010

Broadcast the Haiti disaster LIVE

Due to the recent events in Haiti and the recovery efforts taking place, Streambox Live will be available free to download and use for anyone including: emergency relief organizations, Government/Military, and broadcasters.

Citizen reporters and contributors will be able to send video to the UN, Red Cross, Humanitarian Relief, NGO, Government Agencies, DoD, all major news broadcasters such as: CNN, Fox News, ABC News, NBC News, CBS News as well as local television stations.

Contact us for more info.


Thursday, January 14, 2010

Satellite Technology helping in Haiti

Inmarsat's mobile satellite communications are being deployed to support emergency relief efforts in Haiti following the worst earthquake in the region for possibly more than 250 years.
The scale of the disaster was still being assessed as Inmarsat-sponsored aid agency Télécoms Sans Frontières (TSF) dispatched a team from its American base in Nicaragua to provide vital emergency support.

Equipment and personnel
Aftershocks were felt measuring 5.9 and 5.5 respectively, and more were being forecast.
The TSF first response team is equipped with Inmarsat mobile voice and broadband terminals, with further equipment and personnel expected to arrive from the organisation's international headquarters in France in the coming days.
TSF will use Inmarsat BGAN and Mini M to provide essential communications services - a critical requirement for co-ordinating the early stages of the response - for the United Nations Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the European Commission's Humanitarian Aid Department (ECHO), and other NGOs arriving to assist with relief efforts.
Along with the electricity and water supplies, the country's cellular and terrestrial telecoms networks are down, and Haiti is effectively cut off. Satellite communications now provide the only means for communicating to, and within, the country.

Family members
After the initial emergency response, TSF will offer free calls to the local population, enabling them to contact family members. TSF estimates that up to 5.4 million people in the highly populated country are affected.

The ability of the Inmarsat-4 satellites to dynamically reallocate spot beams to areas of high demand will ensure that spectrum is available to essential government and aid operations in the immediate region.

Source: Inmarsat


Monday, January 11, 2010

FYI Satellite Phones in India

Here's an interesting story about a guy trying to make a difference in the world only to be stopped by some really strange ruling.

'JAIPUR: Andy Pag set out from London three and a half months back to spread awareness about climate change. His mission was to drive around the world in an old, refitted Mercedes bus that ran on biofuel. He travelled through Europe, then Iran, Pakistan and finally entered India through Wagah border. But late on Sunday night, he was picked up by the cops in Pushkar and finally arrested on Monday. And all because he was carrying a satellite phone.

The 34-year-old green traveller, in Pushkar since January 7 after travelling through Jaipur, has been held under section 70 of the Information Technology Act, section 4/20 of the Telegraph Act and section 3/6 of the Wireless Act, all of which carry custodial sentences.

“Carrying a satellite phone in India without the required permission is banned and he was found with one so we have booked him under the Telegraph Act, IT Act and Wireless Act. He will be produced in court on Tuesday,’’ said Hari Prasad, Ajmer’s SP. Conviction under the above sections means a minimum jail term of two years."'
Read the whole article here.

So, lesson to be learned is that, if you going to India with a satphone then please make sure you have the correct license.


Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Thuraya XT in Stock

We have received our stock of the new Thuraya XT phone. So if you been looking at getting one of these, then don't hesitate to contact us.


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Whale Wars using satellite communications

The Discovery Channel has been showing a show called Whale wars. It's about a ship called the Sea Shepherd which floats around the ocean trying to stop Fishing Ships from catching Whales. According to the website Ecorazzi, they use the Iridium Openport for communications:

"Iridium OpenPort Satellite Communications
Beyond antagonizing the Japanese whaling fleet, the Sea Shepherd are also attempting to send back immediate video and pictures of illegal whaling in the Antarctic.

One such device that allows them to do that with relative ease is an Iridium OpenPort device. Specifically created for maritime use, the OpenPort allows ships like the Ady Gil to have an "always on" connection with the outside world. Though its data speed of 128kbps is painfully slow compared to high-speed broadband, it's nonetheless a feat of engineering to upload much of anything when you're in the middle of the Antarctic Ocean.

Unlike your sometimes-'bad' cell phone signal, the Sea Shepherd will always have a way to dial home or send updates. Iridium has more than 66 satellites in space, offering pole-to-pole global coverage."


Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Saved by an Iridium Satellite Phone

There are many stories out there about people getting out of 'sticky' situations by using their own satellite phone. Its these type of stories that show the real use and safety of owning a satellite phone.

South Pole adventurer relieved after close call:

A lot of people worry about whether they'll be able to get reception on their mobile phone. Ottawa adventurer Meagan McGrath was more worried about the issue than most last week, as she sat alone in the Antarctic at the bottom of the crevasse she'd fallen into.

McGrath, on leave from her Canadian Forces posting in Ottawa, has resumed her solo trek to the South Pole after a close call on just the second day of her planned 45-day trek.

Monday evening she spoke to the Citizen on the same Iridium satellite phone that she said probably saved her life.

"It was pretty scary in the crevasse," she said.

McGrath fell about six meters. Her sled was on the surface, but she was able to work her way toward her backpack. Then she managed to reach up with her ski pole and make a hole in the snow.

"I was able to collapse the snow from below and make a small hole in the surface of the snow from which to call through," she said. After eight hours in the cold crevasse, rescuers were able to get her out.

She said she learned from the fall, but there are still no guarantees.

"Oh yeah, I am worried it could happen again. I mean, this is not a ride at Disneyland," she said.

Source: The Ottawa Citizen


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Iridium Satellite Phone in Space

Found an article about updates of what the latest news is on the International Space Station. Was quite interesting to see that they are carrying an Iridium 9505a satellite phone.

"It was time again for the Russian Flight Engineer for recharging the Motorola Iridium-9505A satellite phone located in Soyuz TMA-16/20S (at SM aft), a monthly routine job and Maxim’s third time. [After retrieving it from its location in the spacecraft Descent Modules (BO), Maxim initiated the recharge of the lithium-ion battery, monitoring the process every 10-15 minutes as it took place. Upon completion, the phone was returned inside its SSSP Iridium kits and stowed back in the BO’s ODF (operational data files) container. The satphone accompanies returning ISS crews on Soyuz reentry & landing for contingency communications with SAR (Search-and-Rescue) personnel after touchdown (e.g., after an “undershoot” ballistic reentry, as happened during the 15S return). The Russian-developed procedure for the monthly recharging has been approved jointly by safety officials. During the procedure, the phone is left in its fire-protective fluoroplastic bag with open flap. The Iridium 9505A satphone uses the Iridium constellation of low-Earth orbit satellites to relay the landed Soyuz capsule's GPS (Global Positioning System) coordinates to helicopter-borne recovery crews. The older Iridium-9505 phones were first put onboard Soyuz in August 2003. The newer 9505A phone, currently in use, delivers 30 hours of standby time and three hours of talk, up from 20 and two hours, respectively, on the older units.]"

Source: Spaceref


Monday, November 30, 2009

BGan data tips

Data services are a core component of Inmarsat’s BGAN offering and there are a few basic hints and tips to help end-users connect with ease.

Two key points to check before trying to connect are:

• Your SIM card has been activated for data services
• The correct Access Point Name (APN) is found within the BGAN LaunchPad software or, the web interface being used.

To check the SIM card is activated for BGAN data services, end-users are advised to contact the Inmarsat service provider who supplied the SIM when the BGAN was sold.

The correct APN will be given to the end-user by their service provider. To check this APN has already been selected on the LaunchPad, click on the LaunchPad toolbar and select “BGAN Services”. Then, in the BGAN Services menu, click “LaunchPad APN options”.

Web interface users should consult their user terminal manual for further instructions on checking their APN.

As an alternative to the Inmarsat LaunchPad, there are several web interfaces that are available with the different BGAN manufactured models – such as Thrane & Thrane, HNS and Addvalue. These web interfaces can be accessed via your computer’s web browser.

There are numerous APNs, advises Inmarsat’s customer support team. A common problem is that the APN may have been misspelt. This often happens if the APN has been keyed in manually.

Source: Inmarsat


Thursday, November 26, 2009

New speeds for VOIP on Fleetbroadband

Two new Streaming IP rates are now being offered on Inmarsat's FleetBroadband. The new streaming rates - at 8kbps and 16kbps - are designed to support users who want to make multiple and simultaneous voice over IP (VoIP) phone calls through a FleetBroadband FB500 or FB250 terminal.

These Streaming IP connections are also capable of supporting the onboard GSM picocell technology that enables crew to use their own mobile cellular phones to make calls via the Inmarsat network. In future this is also expected to include access to personal mobile applications offered by GPRS and 3G services.

Until now, FleetBroadband customers have mainly used the Standard IP service, which offers an always-on data connection for applications such as email and web browsing.
The maximum speed offered is 432kbps, but this bandwidth may be shared with other users of the network in the same geographical area. Data rates may therefore vary.
With Streaming IP, customers can select a dedicated IP data connection offering consistent and assured data rates of 256, 128, 64 or 32kbps - as well as the new 16 and 8kbps channels. Streaming IP connections are charged on a time basis, unlike Standard IP, which is charged by the volume of data sent and received.

"Streaming IP can be used for a wide range of applications. Formerly, the lowest Streaming IP rate available over FleetBroadband FB500 and FB250 was 32kbps. While much lower than the data rates required for audio and video streaming, this was still far higher than needed for a good-quality voice call," explained Inmarsat solutions manager Manoj Mohindra.
"The introduction of the 8 and 16kbps rates makes it possible to manage the amount of bandwidth allocated to VoIP calls more efficiently and cost-effectively.
"VoIP operates by encoding the user's voice into data at particular bit rates, depending on the codec being used. Skype, the popular VoIP application, offers good quality voice connection, but using FleetBroadband Standard IP there is no control over the bandwidth it utilises, and hence the amount of chargeable data sent over the satellite.

Inmarsat therefore recommends the use of Streaming IP for VoIP applications such as Skype.

Source: Inmarsat


Monday, November 23, 2009

More Broadband on a shipping vessel

A fast-growing commercial shipping company, MPC Steamship, is the latest maritime business to sign up to Inmarsat FleetBroadband.

The German company, part of the MPC Group, which manages 17 container vessels and bulk carriers around the world, has deployed FleetBroadband on the Yangtze River bulk-carrier.

With plans to double its fleet by 2011, MPC is evaluating and deploying the industry's latest communications solutions to ensure peak vessel performance and crew satisfaction.

"Once deployment was completed, it became very clear that FleetBroadband is the future of maritime communications. It truly brings the vessel and the office closer together," said MPC Steamship's IT Manager, Thomas Hoenig.

Source: Inmarsat