Globalstar, new satellites & a “gap report”


As suggested yesterday, boaters who already have Globalstar phones—or are trying to decide between its lower rates and faster data versus Iridium’s greater reliability and range—want to know when Globalstar will fix the amplifier problems that have plagued duplex service over the last year or so. One bit of news is that Globalstar is now offering an online Optimum Availability Report. I can’t report first hand on its accuracy, but a bigger look at the screen above suggests that, at least around Bermuda, the non-optimal times are somewhat lengthy and thus this list might be really helpful. (A Panbo reader who is struggling with a new 1700 in the Bahamas, and who we’ll hear more from, calls it the “Gap Report” and notes that it’s frustratingly difficult to access with his…satellite phone!) But what about those four new satellites that went up in May? Globalstar recently told me this:

The first of these satellites went into operation earlier this summer.  The second is expected to be operational within the next two weeks with the final two expected to go into service by the end of October.  In the early part of the fourth quarter, Globalstar is also anticipating the launch of four more satellites.  These satellites will become operational as soon as they have been “drifted” into their correct orbital position and that is expected to take a number of weeks to complete.

Sounds good, so to speak, but the company spokesman also noted that, “Until the transition to our second-generation constellation (which is expected to begin in 2009), Globalstar two-way voice and duplex data satellite services will not be operating at optimal or peak efficiency.” On a cheerier note, it’s worth repeating that Globalstar’s simplex data service is working just fine, and it includes the interesting new SPOT “satellite messenger”, which Doug Ritter recently discussed in superb detail.

Ben Ellison

Ben Ellison

Panbo editor, publisher & chief bottlewasher from 4/2005 until 8/2018, and now pleased to have Ben Stein as a very able publisher, webmaster, and editing colleague. Please don't regard him as an "expert"; he's getting quite old and thinks that "fadiddling fumble-putz" is a more accurate description.

6 Responses

  1. Sci470 says:

    I spent 40 hours out in the Northeast canyons last week tuna fishing, and managed to get a decent signal on my Globalstar phone for about 3 minutes. I wound up borrowing my friend’s Iridium to get a call out…Not cool…

  2. Dan Gingras says:

    I can’t believe that there hasn’t been a class action suit about this. They’re charging us a regular monthly charge and delivering… NOTHING. It’s really deception and fraud in my opinion.

  3. Seajet says:

    Like I have said in an earlier post, when I signed-up for the Globalstar Unlimited Minutes offer, I did not realize they meant that I will spend endless minutes trying to make a connection, which I did in June during the Marion Bermuda race. Fortunately, I will stay in cell range for the foreseeable future and do not need Globalstar service. I am sure that is what Globalstar is counting on with most of their customers. Otherwise, what Dan’s suggests may still become a reality.

  4. S/V Valerie Arden says:

    Thanks for posting the information on the Globalstar Gap Report.
    We planned to use our Globalstar phone this July. No service in Fort Lauderdale as we set sail for Bahamas. No service in West End Grand Bahamas. No service on Little Bahamas Bank. Service once we sailed as far east as Spanish Key where it worked for 10 minutes more or less every 30 to 40 minutes.

  5. richardstephens says:

    Too bad this tool does not tell you which satellites are passing. I’m curious to try the service when one of the new satellites is overhead.

  6. Bill Dillard says:

    We summer in Key Largo and maintain our boat in Ft Pierce rest of the year. Frequent trips to the Bahama’s. I’ve owned the phone over a year have only been able to get out on it twice. Was off shore 35 miles yesterday….no service. I’m switching….

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