Satellite Phone FAQs

How does a satellite phone work?

Satellite phones must have "line-of-sight" to the satellites in order to operate. This means the antenna on the phone must be outdoors with nothing solid obstructing it's view to the sky. Anything solid can block the phone to satellite signal. e.g. Trees, buildings, hills or mountains, vehicles, etc.

Who owns the most satellites for phone service?

Iridium. They operate an array of 66 satellites that cover the globe, no matter where on earth you are if you have clear access to the sky you can place a call on the Iridium Network.


What is the coverage area for the Iridium satellite phones?
The Iridium satellite phones are capable of making and receiving calls anywhere in the world, including the North and South poles and the middle of the ocean. The only exceptions will be those areas embargoed or restricted by the U.S. Department of State. Currently, these areas include: Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, & Syria. India currently has laws restricting the possession of a satellite phone while in country.

Are there any long distance or roaming charges?
No. You always pay your per minute rate no matter where on earth you are. The only exception is when calling other NON-Iridium Satellite Phones where the charges can be up to $12 per minute.

Can I use the satellite phone indoors?
No. Successful use of the phone indoors will be limited without the use of a external antenna.

Can I use the satellite phone in my car?
Successful use of the phone in your car will be limited without the use of the portable auxiliary antenna that magnetically attaches to the roof of your car.

How big are the Iridium satellite phones?

  • The newest model 9575 Extreme satellite phone is 5.5" (L) x 2.4" (W) x 1.06" (D).  The 9575 Extreme weighs 8.2 ounces or .54lbs.
  • The 9555 satellite phone is 5.6" H (with antenna down) x 2.16" W x 1.2" D. The 9555 antenna is 6" Extended. The 9555 weighs 9.4oz or .59lbs.
  • The 9505 & 9505A satellite phone are 6.25" H (with antenna folded down) x 2.5" W x 2.25" D (with antenna). The 9505/9505A antenna is 6.25" H. The 9505A weighs 13.2oz or .83lbs.
  • The 9500 satellite phone is 7.5" H (with antenna folded down) x 2.5" W x 2.75" D (with antenna). The 9500 antenna is 7.5" H.

How much do the Iridium satellite phones weigh?

  • The 9575 Extreme is 8.2 ounces or .54 pounds (247 grams).
  • The 9555 is 9.4 ounces or .59 pounds (266 grams).
  • The 9505 is 13.2 ounces or .83 pounds (375 grams).
  • The 9500 is about a pound (454 grams).

Who manufactures the Iridium satellite phone?
Motorola manufactured the 9500 and the 9505 model phones. Most recently Iridium has taken over manufacturing of the 9505A, 9555, 9575 Extreme, and GO! model satellite phones.

Can I purchase insurance or extended warranty for the satellite phones?
We do not have have insurance, but do provide extended warranties on all units including rentals. Please contact your sales representative for more information. Toll Free: 877-258-3496

What is the approximate talk time for the batteries on the satellite phones?
Generally, the average talk time is 2-3 hours. This will vary based on battery type, battery age and phone model. We always advise carrying a spare, fully charged battery. The phones will also work without a battery, while plugged in to an appropriate electrical source.

Does the temperature affect the life of a battery?
Yes, exposure to extreme heat or extreme cold will shorten the life of a battery.

Does the weather affect my phone?
No, not at the L-band. However, the weather can affect the transmission from the satellite to the ground station.

Are the Iridium satellite phones water-resistant?
No. The phones should be kept out of the rain and not exposed to water.  If you'll be in inclement weather we recommend the Iridium 9575 Extreme phone as the best option.

If I already have my own satellite phone, can I still get service?
Yes. BlueCosmo Communications offers service on the Iridium Satellite Series 9500, 9505, 9505A, 9555 or 9575 Extreme Satellite phones. You will just need a new SIM card provided by BlueCosmo Satellite Communications.

Can I use my old Iridium SIM card?
No. In order to obtain Iridium service, it will be necessary to purchase a new SIM card from BlueCosmo Satellite Communications.

Can I keep my old phone number?
No. Your phone number is associated with your SIM card, and since you will need to obtain a new SIM card, you will also receive a new number.

What is a phone reflash?
The phone reflash is an upgrade to the satellite phone. The reflash offers improved voice quality, decreased dropped call rates, and allows for data transmission. The satellite phone must be sent to BlueCosmo Communications main office for the reflash.

Would I need the reflash performed on my satellite phone?
If you purchased your phone prior to March 31, 2001, AND you are concerned about the voice quality, dropped call rates, or being able to send and receive data via your satellite phone, you would want the reflash.

Can I get the reflash on my Kyocera satellite phone?
No, we are unable to reflash the Kyocera satellite phones.

What is the function of the SIM card?
SIM (Subscriber Identity Module) cards are currently used in all GSM-based systems. The SIM card is a removable module that contains user identity, account information, and stores phone numbers which can be used in any compatible phone where your SIM card is present. When inserted into a telephone, it allows you to place or receive calls. Any Iridium SIM card will work in any Iridium Satellite Phone

What type of phone number will I receive?
The phone number is a 12-digit Iridium phone number assigned by BlueCosmo Communications that is specific to the Iridium network. Iridium has it's own country code of 8816 which is then followed by 8 digits. (E.g. 8816-315-12345) When placing calls to and from Iridium you must always use international dialing. (E.g. From North America dial 011-8816-315-12345)

For international rates to call an Iridium phone please contact your Long Distance Provider and ask the per minute rate to call Iridium or country code 8816. Average pricing is $7+ per minute.

There is an optional US based phone number for an additional cost on monthly billed plans. Not available on prepaid services.

Can I choose my Iridium satellite phone number?

Are calls to the Iridium satellite phone a 'local' call?
No. Calls placed to the Iridium satellite phone are considered an international phone call.

Is there an access number to reach the Iridium satellite phone?
Yes. The access number is 480-768-2500. The caller will dial the access number and at the prompt, enter the 12-digit Iridium phone number they are trying to reach. The call will then be routed to the phone. Calls placed in this manner are called "Two-Stage Dialing," and there is a charge to the Iridium subscriber for this type of incoming call.

If I buy two phones, can they share a service plan?
No. Each phone is required to have its own SIM card to operate. Each SIM card has a unique phone number, and each phone number would need to be set up on an individual service plan.

What service features are available on the Iridium phones?
Voicemail, short messaging service (SMS), call forwarding, call barring and Two-Stage dialing are all available on all BlueCosmo Communications service plans. Voicemail is available on all plans, and call forwarding, call barring, SMS and Two-Stage dialing are included on all plans.

Can I get cellular on the Iridium satellite phones?
No. At this time, Iridium is not supporting cellular service on the satellite phones.

What is short messaging service (SMS)?
The person trying to contact you on your Iridium satellite phone can send a short text message (under 160 characters) directly to your handset. There is no charge receive the SMS. Keep in mind that your handset must be on to receive the message, and the Iridium system only stores these messages for eight(8) days. There are two ways to send a SMS message:

  1. Visit to Send a Text Message.
  2. Open a new e-mail, and send to ''. Do not include a subject line as it will not be included in the message body. Type in a short text message (under 160 characters), and hit 'send'.

Is Emergency 911 calling available on the Iridium network?
Yes, 911 Emergency service is available in North America only. You only need dial 911 to be connected to a central Emergency Services representative. No special prefixes or country codes are needed when dialing 911. When traveling outside North America it is advisable to have the emergency contact numbers with you.

Globalstar Satellite Phones

How does the Globalstar handset work?
Globalstar customers make or receive calls using the hand-held phone or with the hands free car kit. The phones communicate via a Globalstar satellite that bounces the signal back down to the nearest earth station that interconnects to the local telephone system. The process takes roughly 10 milliseconds, delivering excellent voice clarity and no perceptible voice delay.

(Globalstar phones are no longer activated on cellular networks)

Do Globalstar's satellite phones work just like cell phones?
Globalstar satellite phones offer many of the same characteristics as cellular phones, including a similar user interface and design. One of the main differences between satellite and cell phones is that the user must put up a larger satellite antenna in order to receive satellite signals.

Globalstar features one of the smallest and lightest handsets in the satellite industry. Satellite phones are slightly larger in size than cellular phones because the antenna system required to communicate on the satellite frequencies must be larger than a cellular phone antenna.

Another fundamental difference between traditional wireless phones and Globalstar satellite phones, as with all satellite mobile handheld phones, it must be within satellite line-of-sight in order to complete calls. Therefore the mobile handset cannot be used indoors.

If satellite phone services are required indoors, Globalstar offers 3 options. The New SatFi, GSP-2900 fixed satellite phone and the FAU-200. Either can be used indoors in satellite mode as they have external remote antennas to create line of sight with the Globalstar Satellite Network.

When was Globalstar made available in North America?

Globalstar has been rolling out its services on a progressive basis since the fall of 1999.

Who has subscribed to Globalstar services?
It is estimated that 50 per cent of the world has little or no phone service. The advent of affordable satellite telephony and other wireless services will change this, since it eliminates the need for costly landline or wireless network infrastructures. In fact, industry experts anticipate that the market potential for mobile global satellite communications is between 10 and 30 million customers. Across North America, business, government, and even the general public need the ability to communicate wherever they are located or travelling. With many regions not having existing landline or cellular coverage there is distinct need for Globalstar's reliable and quality voice and data services. These users are from a variety of industries:

  • Companies in the natural resources, specifically oil and gas, mining and forestry enterprises
  • Maritime Industry, fishing boats, and recreational boaters
  • Transportation, such as railways and trucking
  • Cellular users who are looking to extend the range of their existing service
  • Various federal and provincial government agencies
  • Fire, police and emergency services
  • Leisure users who fish, hunt, snowmobile, etc.
  • Recreational vehicles, cruise ships etc.
  • Global travelers who travel to destinations where local telephone service is unreliable or expensive.

Also, in rural or under-served areas where landline phone service doesn't exist or is of poor quality, Globalstar can provide voice and data service (SMS and email) through its fixed terminals or GSP-1700 with a 9200 data modem.

How much do Globalstar Phones and Services cost?
Phones: Globalstar's mobile unit, the GSP-1700, has an MSRP of $499, by far the most competively priced satellite phone in the market. Fixed units range from the FAU-2000, voice only unit, to the GSP-2900 fixed satellite phone for $1,999 which includes data service as well as voice capabilities. Click here for a link to the Globalstar products page to view more features and benefits of Globalstar phones.

Airtime Rates: Globalstar offers the best-in-class satellite call rates in the US or Caribbean. Calls from anywhere in the US or Caribbean can start as low as $0.50 per minute and unlimited plans are available. Prepaid options are now available. For long distance rates, visit the long distance rate calculator for specific country rates. Globalstar USA offers service that is effectively priced for the user, while offering convenience, unmatched service quality and leading edge applications and features.

Why is Globalstar the best satellite service in the USA?
Globalstar's innovative, yet proven technology, delivers higher dependability, stronger voice clarity and lower costs than the competition:

  • More dependable - Globalstar offers true satellite diversity. At least two satellites and as many as four satellites are in view at any one time to make and receive Globalstar calls, resulting in fewer dropped calls.
  • More user friendly - Globalstar's handset is one of the smallest and lightest handsets on the market making it easy to carry with you wherever you go.
  • Globalstar's constellation of satellites is Low Earth Orbiting (LEO'S) offering voice transmissions with an imperceptible voice delay. This allows for natural communications without awkward pauses or silences.
  • More cost effective - Globalstar offers the best-in-class satellite call rates in the USA or Caribbean.

What is Globalstar's international coverage?
Globalstar offers roaming in over 110 countries serving 90% of the world's population.

Iridium AD511 Active Antenna

Can I modify the 40m (130') length of RG213 coax cable that comes with my AD511 Active Antenna?
No, you cannot modify the RG213 Cable supplied with the AD511 Active Antenna. Doing so will effect the power and specs to the antenna and cause failures.

Can I use higher grade coax cable to extend the run of the Iridium Active Antenna?
Yes, there are several options to extend the cable run outside of the standard 40m (130') RG213 coax cable.

  1. LMR-400 with N connectors will allow a run of 65 meters exactly
  2. ECOFLEX 15 with outside diameter of 14.6 mm and N connectors will allow for 80 meters exactly. (UK)
  3. LMR-600 with N connectors will allow a run of 100 meters exactly

How close together can I put my Iridium AD511 Active Antenna?
The minimum distance between any Iridium antenna, active or passive, is 1 meter. This is the absolute minimum and a larger distance is preferable. As in all RF applications the greater the better.

What is the added gain of the AD511 Active Iridium Antenna?
The active antenna has no system gain and is built so the radiated power is that of the standard Iridium handset. I.E. +38dB. The AD510-10 Active Antenna is not built to add gain to the system, as many people believe, but is made to place the antenna in a more suitable position. The active antenna can ONLY be used with the set length of coax feed and CANNOT be changed as this forms part of the operating specs. If the feed coax is changed it can damage the Active elements in the unit.

Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions regarding the different satellite networks. 





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