Frost & Sullivan has conducted a study of the differences between satellite phone devices and services and has detailed this in a report published 21 September 2010.
The company’s intention is to aid those end users and decision makers responsible for purchasing, deploying or using personal satellite communications devices.
Frost & Sullivan found it valuable to compare the features and performance of the industry model, Inmarsat’s IsatPhone Pro, with the Iridium 9555 satellite phone. It also compared Iridium’s network of 66 low-Earth orbit satellites to Inmarsat’s constellation of three geosynchronous orbit satellites. Both qualitative and quantitative analyses were conducted.
For the qualitative portion of this analysis, the features evaluated were: size and weight; keyboard; display; antenna; battery use and charge life; battery charger; construction and overall feel.
For the quantitative section, test locations were selected in order to understand the variations in performance referenced in the FAQ section on an Inmarsat reseller website.
These locations included Anchorage, Alaska; Fort Lauderdale, Florida; and Fort McMurray, Canada.
In the testing and analysis, the 9555 satellite phone was found to be a better device to the IsatPhone Pro in all locations. The satellite network also offered better coverage, including the ability to use a satellite phone in Anchorage, Alaska, where the Inmarsat phone was inoperable.
The 9555 phone provided better call quality, and was faster to find the satellite network and make a call and offered the ability to receive an incoming call with the antenna down - something the IsatPhone Pro could not do.
The 9555 device also offered the ability to use the phone as a modem for a laptop for email or web access. However, the IsatPhone Pro was less expensive than the 9555 device and also had lower per minute usage charges.
“Frost & Sullivan recommends that heavy users of satellite phones, and first responders who rely on satellite phones for emergency communications, select the Iridium phone and service,” advises James Brehm, Frost & Sullivan senior consultant and project leader.
“We believe that Iridium is a proven and reliable service that works well in all locations and, therefore, justifies the added premium for the hardware and service.”