Satellite FAQs

Why do I need a satellite phone?

You will probably need a satellite phone if you travel to, or spend any time in areas around the world that have limited cellular coverage or unreliable landline signal. Having a satellite phone ensures ease of mind as it enables you to communicate wherever and whenever other forms of communication fail you. Satellite phones are guaranteed to give you a signal almost anywhere across the globe as they depend on satellites in space rather than on land based land-based cell towers. Satellite phones are also a great contingency when natural disasters strike that could knock out cellular or landline systems. Satellite devices needs to be used outside in direct line of sight with the sky.

Should I rent or buy a satellite phone?

Weekly and monthly satellite phone rentals are great for one-off short trips when you know you’ll be out of your usual cellular area. Renting a satellite phone as a contingency in certain months of the year is also advised just in case natural disasters strike.

However, if you think you will need a satellite phone for longer than a couple of months, then purchasing a device is likely to be the best option.

Which satellite phone has the best coverage?

Cellhire provides both devices from leading networks Iridium and Inmarsat. Iridium is the only satellite network that offers complete global coverage, including the Polar Regions as they operate 66 satellites that cover the globe. However, both networks offer different coverage that may be better based on location or for different functions such as voice, text or data services.

Can I use my satellite phone anywhere in the world?

Satellite phones can be used anywhere in the world – they are in the truest sense a global phone. There are however countries where usage is restricted or prohibited.

Cellhire does not recommend taking your Iridium handset to these countries as there is a good chance it may be confiscated by Customs or additional local regulations may be breeched simply by being in possession of it.

For more information please visit www.ustreas.gov & travel.state.gov.

Is there coverage everywhere?

Iridium devices will work anywhere on the planet, Inmarsat devices will not work at the North, nor the South Pole – they will work everywhere else.

Please note: Inmarsat and Iridium are line-of-site devices, meaning they must be outside and have a clear view of the sky in order to work properly.

The use of satellite devices may be prohibited or restricted in certain areas. Taking the device into areas where it is prohibited may result in its confiscation.

Always obey the local laws and regulations on the use of these devices. If you are unsure, please contact the local customs office.

How can I get a good connection with the satellite phone?

Find an unobstructed view of the sky, away from tall buildings and structures. Check your signal strength and try to remain stationary. This will help to keep your signal strong and reduce the likelihood of calls being dropped. If the signal strength is good but the connection sounds poor, persevere with your call. Your Satellite phone is likely to be working correctly and any interference may be temporary. If your device does not register after several minutes, power down the device, then power it back on while standing outside, the device should then register.

Where can I find my satellite phone number?

Your phone number is printed on a label affixed to the side of your satellite rental phone, it can also be found on the instruction sheet.

How do my contacts dial my satellite phone from the US?

Callers will dial 011 followed by your satellite phone number (this number begins with 8816 for Iridium devices and 870 for Inmarsat devices).

How much does it cost for my contacts to call the satellite phone?

For landline phones and cellular providers the caller must contact their service provider for rates.

Can you call forward to the satellite phone?

No. Unfortunately US cellular Carriers will not allow cellular numbers to be forwarded to a satellite number. Please contact our Sales Dept. if you are interested in including a US number with your rental – this will allow callers to reach you by dialing a US number rather than a satellite number.

How do I retrieve my voicemail and how much does it cost?

For Iridium handsets, press the Menu key, scroll to Voicemail and press Select, Call Voicemail will be highlighted, press Select and follow the prompts.

For Inmarsat handsets press and hold the “1” key, the phone will call your voicemail service, follow the prompts.

For both Iridium and Inmarsat your outbound call rate will apply for calls to voicemail. See your Rental agreement for exact pricing.

How do I dial an international dialing code on the satellite phone?

The + sign acts as an international exit code when dialed from the satellite phone. To dial internationally, simply enter + (press and hold the 0 key and the + sign will display) followed by the country code for the country you are calling and then the full phone number.

For example, the United States country code is '1', so to call 214 355 5200 from the satellite phone you would dial + 1 214 355 5200.

Can I send and receive text messages?

Yes you can. Text messages can be sent to and from other satellite phones, as well as to and from cellular phones. Again like placing a call the numbers should be entered in an international dialing format i.e., 214 355 5200 becomes +1 214 355 5200.

Please note cellphone users should check with their carrier to make sure they are approved for texting satellite numbers.

What do I do if my phone will not register on the network?

Satellite phones are making a connection with a satellite and there will be times that this may take a few minutes. Please follow the instructions in your user guide and make sure you have a clear view of the sky (having a 360 degree view of the horizon also helps), that you are standing still and that the antenna is pointing upward. If after four minutes the phone has not connected, simply power it off and then, while outside, power it back on.

How will I know when the antenna is in the right position?

Please make sure your antenna is always vertical and still during the connection process – once connected you are free to move about although it is recommended that you try to remain in one spot.

Is there data on a satellite phone?

Satellite phones are not built to transmit data. If data is a requirement, the BGAN units are much better for data transmission- The Terminal 510 on the order site is a great option to send and receive data and browse the internet.

Know your data?

Is a Satellite Phone Waterproof?

None of the satellite devices offered on our site are waterproof. The Iridium 9575 and Inmarsat Isatphone Pro2 however both carry an IP65 rating against water exposure.

What are durability standards?

Ingress Protection (IP)

The Ingress Protection (IP) is a standard used to classify the degree of protection provided by mechanical casings electrical enclosures against intrusion by foreign bodies including dust and water. IP65 is rated as ‘dust-tight’ and protected against low pressure water from any direction, such as water projected from a nozzle. IP66 is rated as ‘dust-tight’ and protected against high pressure water from any direction, such as heavy seas or powerful jets of water.

IK Rating

The IK rating is an international standard which standardizes and defines the level of resistance of enclosures provided for electronic equipment to mechanical impacts. IK04 protects a 200 g object dropped from 25 cm in height.


MIL-STD 810 is a generally accepted standard used to define the testing methodology for, and results required for acceptance of, rugged equipment. It is the standard of ruggedization testing and compliance for mobile computers and equipment.