Inmarsat IsatPhone, bring it on!
Before you get overly excited, note that so far you can only use this new satellite phone in Asia, Africa, or the Middle East. But according to the Inmarsat announcement, the service will be worldwide by the end of 2008. Like Iridium, the IsatPhone does data at a piddly 2400 bps, but that’s enough for email and file up/downloading, especially with a little help from XGate. And especially when the phone’s expected retail is “about $500” with voice calls at less than $1/minute. The data rate is 9600 when the phone is used in GSM mode; that’s Globalstar speed, but hopefully delivered more reliably by Inmarsat. There will also be a worldwide FleetPhone version of this service—with a down-below handset and external antenna—said to be “ideal” for smaller fishing vessels and yachts. “We are coming to shake up the satellite phone market,” says Inmarsat’s CEO. I think the reaction of a lot of offshore boaters will be: “Bring it on!”