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Satellite phones have been available for decades. The earliest "portable" satellite phones were transported in several suitcases, and required hours of set up time, including unfolding a large dish antenna. Second-generation "briefcase" satellite phones can be set up in a few minutes, but must remain stationary to be used.

Satellite phones practical for lightweight backpacking appeared in 1998 using the Iridium and Globalstar satellite systems, followed by Thuraya, Inmarsat and Terrestar. See Part 1 for a description of these satellite systems.

This Part 2 covers satellite phones suitable for lightweight backpacking. Part 3 covers two-way satellite text-only devices. All the information in this series comes from vendor web sites and online reviews, except for the "Personal experience" sections.


  • Introduction
    • Placing calls
    • Receiving calls
    • 911 emergency calls
    • Toll-free calls
  • Internet access
    • Option 1: Iridium phone + AxcessPoint + smart phone
    • Option 2: Expedition package
    • Two-way texting and other features
  • Speaking of GPS …
  • Satellite phone plans
  • Dust and water protection
    • Dust
    • Water
  • Rent versus buy
  • Summarizing reviews and comments
  • Criteria for inclusion
    • Globalstar GSP-1600
    • Globalstar GSP-1700
    • Inmarsat IsatPhone Pro
    • Iridium 9505A
    • Iridium 9555
    • Iridium 9575 Extreme
    • Terrestar Genus
  • Important Physical Specifications
  • Important Features
  • Sample prices
  • Narrowing the field: Lightest
  • Narrowing the field: Most reliable
  • What would I choose?

# WORDS: 4410

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