Satellite Phones – Finding a Reputable Provider

I was at conference once and the topic of reputable satellite phone providers came up as I asked five SatCOm network CEOs how they want their products sold.  I cited the recent state bid where a janitorial supply company had won a  bid on BGAN terminals.  The company didn’t even know what a BGAN was, let alone how to support it – they barely knew what they were selling let alone could even call themselves knowledgeable in the world of satellite communication. This is a common dilemma when it comes to being in the business of selling communication equipment that isn’t quite mainstream yet. We have consumers looking for global phones that will work while they are boating or hiking, and frequently companies in search of redundancy options to support disaster recovery efforts. Yet, there is so much more to the process of implementing satellite technology such as voice, data, and tracking systems. Picking the lowest cost provider should be the very last thing you do when making a satellite phone purchase especially when you can find hundreds of providers on the Internet.  You get what you pay for, and (I’ve beat this drum for years), buying the lowest price will ALWAYS cost you more.  Always.

Consider the following key points when choosing a satellite phone, voice, or data package:

1) Consider your long term goals.  Satellite technology can have a dramatic impact on your entire business so you’ll need to consider many factors.  For example:

  • Will you be sending and receiving data in addition to making phone calls? 
  • How many people will need to use the phones or devices? 
  • ow often do you need to use SatCom?
  • Do you have an estimate of the call/data volume?

We ask our clients and prospects these questions each time they consider a purchase because we want to make sure they get the results they need.  Once we have a framework, then we can better discuss rate plans, pooling airtime, roll over minutes and more.

2) How long has the provider been in business?  This is important because vendors go out of business when they offer ridiculously low hardware prices and over-charge for service.  You will lose in the end when the provider is closed and hence will no longer honor the service contract.  SatCom has had some pretty high profile ‘re-bids’ on the government side when a low-cost provider goes out of business and leaves the client wit no service.

3) Where will you be using your satellite solutions? This is key since different networks offer different coverage, varying from the entire planet to regional coverage.  It is important to know that your phone or data device will work when you are out in the ocean, or traveling abroad.  The network’s coverage can often be a big determinant of which phone you will need.

4) Can you pool your airtime? East Coast and our sister company GlobaFone (for government users) offer Iridium rate plans that benefit multiple users through pooling. For example, East Coast Satellite Communications has Iridium plans that allow multiple users under one plan to draw from a pool or airtime minutes, deducted from a single rate plan. This is a great way to save costs and maximize the number of minutes you need.

5) How does the vendor’s customer service rate? Many providers ship devices straight from the manufacturer and don’t take the time to test the phone, charge the battery, remove the pin code and more. At East Coast, we do all of this , and ship phones in a complimentary user kit. Our clients enjoy knowing they are not blindly receiving a phone that may or may not work. We are available 24/7 so there is always help available. 

Will your provider there when you need them?

Ask your provider a lot of questions. Don’t just go with a ‘low price wins’ mentality; it will cost you much more in the long run.  It happens repeatedly – an organization chooses the lower cost provider (because it’s such a great deal!), has problems, cannot get help and the problems become very expensive. 

We look forward to helping you, so reach out to us by calling at 603-346-4184, or via e-mail