Satellite Phones

A satellite phone keeps you connected wherever you go. No matter what your communication needs may be, Canada Satellite has you covered. Here are some important things to think about before you buy or rent a satellite phone - cost, coverage, features and plans.

Where will you be? Are you planning a trip to the mountains? A marine adventure? Or are you heading to work in a remote location? Have a look at our coverage maps to find out which satellite phone is right for you.

What will you be doing? How are you planning to use your satellite phone? Do you need it for text messages, phone calls and basic email access? Do you need remote broadband capability? Or perhaps you’re looking for a satellite phone with SOS tracking and alert features as part of your emergency response plan. Compare the world’s best phones below.

What’s your budget? Are you planning to buy or rent a satellite phone? Canada Satellite has a wide range of pre-paid, monthly and annual plans suitable for most every need.

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Satellite Phones Canada

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Compare 5 Best Satellite Phones


  Iridium 9555 Satellite Phone for Sale Iridium 9575 Extreme Satellite Phone Iridium GO for sale Inmarsat Isatphone 2 Thuraya XT LITE
PHONE COST C$1575.00 C$1995.00 C$999.99 C$879.93 US$499.95
LENGTH  143 mm 140 mm   114 mm 169 mm  128 mm 
WIDTH 55 mm 60 mm  83 mm 75 mm  53 mm 
DEPTH 30 mm 27 mm   32 mm 36 mm  27 mm 
WEIGHT  266 grams  247 grams 304 grams 318 grams  186 grams 
OPERATING TEMPERATURES -10°C to 55°C   -10°C to 55°C -10°C to 55°C  -20°C to 55°C  -10°C to 55°C 
IP RATING  N/A  IP65 IP65  IP65   NA


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What is a Satellite Phone?
Satellite phones (sat phone, terminal, satellite cell phone) are mobile communication devices with standard phone capabilities which connect to stationary or orbiting satellites overhead. Compared to a cell phone, sat phones are bigger and heavier, and functionality is typically limited to voice calls and text messaging. They don’t offer smart high-end UX and front-end interface features like your smartphone, but technology is advancing and so is the design of satellite phones. Essentially, sat phones are designed to connect to a satellite (and bypass cellular networks) for the sole purpose of making a call or sending a short text-based message when it’s impossible to use a cell phone.

Let’s start with basic terrestrial technology – cell phones. A cell phone needs to connect to physical cellular towers to make calls, send texts or access internet services on mobile data. And, as most of us have experienced at one time or another, various elements can impact the signal strength of a cellular connection, specifically the distance from a cell tower. Enter the satellite phone.

However, satellite phones are not immune to outages albeit infrequent but natural phenomena such as solar flares can disrupt satellite communications. Also, some countries have a ban on satellite phone usage within their borders so its highly recommended to first check with the country you’re visiting.

Satellite Phone & Network Technology
Different satellite phone systems use different technologies, so these special phones are not interchangeable or have roaming functions with networks like a normal mobile device. Two main technologies used in satellite communications are geosynchronous satellites (GEO) and Low Earth Orbit (LEO) systems, and so different satellite phones have specific configurations.

GEO satellites follow the Earth’s rotation in a fixed location approximately 35,000 kilometres up in the sky and are positioned above the equator covering vast areas. Where a sat phone network provider owns 2 – 3 satellites, making up their “satellite constellation”, they can mostly provide global coverage to sat phone users. Two satellite communication companies, Inmarsat and Thuraya both use geosynchronous configurations.

LEO satellites orbit the Earth at a much lower distance providing enough opportunities to connect with your sat phone. With both LEO and GEO, the clearer the line of sight, the better the connection. These technologies are complex with pros and cons but having a basic understanding will help you make an informed decision whether you’re out to buy or look for a satellite phone rental.


Compare Satellite Phone Coverage Maps


Iridium Inmarsat Thuraya
Iridium Coverage Map Inmarsat Coverage Map Thuraya Coverage Map


Satellite Phone Providers
Iridium, Inmarsat, Thuraya and Globalstar are the key players in the global satellite communications industry and their satellites all work differently.  Iridium uses 66 satellites in Low Earth Orbit, while Globalstar has 18. Inmarsat and Thuraya both use geostationary satellites which orbit 35,786km (22,236 miles) above the Earth.  

When using an Iridium sat phone, the satellites will move towards you (overhead) and with an Inmarsat or Thuraya phone, you will need to move towards the satellites. While Iridium seems to have an advantage of a guaranteed connection coming, there’s also a higher risk of call quality decreasing as the satellite passes and moves away from you. The connection with Inmarsat may then be more consistent once you’ve found it.

Powered by a uniquely sophisticated global constellation of 66 cross-linked Low-Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites, the Iridium® network provides high-quality voice and data connections over the planet’s entire surface, including across airways, oceans, and polar regions. Iridium delivers an innovative and rich portfolio of reliable solutions for markets that require truly global communications.

Iridium completed a constellation upgrade in early 2019, replacing all its satellites and upgrading the supporting ground infrastructure. This enabled the launch of Iridium Certus®, a new multi-service platform delivering specialty broadband services, with additional midband services coming soon.

At only 780 kilometers from the Earth, the proximity of Iridium’s LEO network means pole-to-pole coverage, a shorter transmission path, stronger signals, lower latency, and shorter registration time than with GEO satellites. In space, each Iridium satellite is linked to up to four others creating a dynamic network that routes traffic among satellites to ensure global coverage, even where traditional local systems are unavailable.

Inmarsat’s portable and fixed phone services provide essential voice calls and messaging for businesses operating in remote regions around the world. Suite of handheld, mobile and fixed services can be used on land, at sea and in the air. They utilise the world’s most advanced satellite communications network, offering clear voice quality and minimal call drop out.

Thuraya phones can connect to two GEO satellites positioned over Singapore and the east coast of Africa so it offers up to 70% coverage, which excludes Canada, US, South America and New Zealand.

Buying a Satellite Phone
Satellite phones are proprietary, made for a particular network and cannot be switched to other networks.The three main points to look at when buying a satellite phone is coverage, cost and functionality.

  • In general, satellite phone communications average $1.50 per minute, and there are different satellite phone plans available that cover calls and support, but for occasional or emergency contact, the cost is irrelevant. The device can range anywhere from $800 to $2,000 with Iridium at the higher end and Thuraya at the lower cost range.
  • The Iridium satellite constellation gets higher reviews for network and coverage and you pay a bit more for that, where Inmarsat sits somewhere in the middle with reasonable quality, coverage and cost. Consider Thuraya as a low-cost option if you are going near their two satellite locations.
  • Certain features are important to different people and for different situations. Like Iridium offers great SOS features integrated with GEOS, while Inmarsat and Thuraya allows you to share your live location with a nominated contact.

Whichever satellite phone appeals to your pocket and your specific need, if you’re planning on visiting a remote area with minimal or no cell coverage, or you need an emergency backup communications device, then a satellite phone can prove to be extremely useful, if not lifesaving.

Satellite Phone Accessories
Various accessories are available for your satellite phones. These include spare batteries, antennas, docking stations, cases, chargers and more. 

Satellite Phones in Vehicles
Satellite phones are designed to work only with a clear of the sky. The roof of a vehicle is typically enough to interfere with a satellite signal.  In order to be able to use a satellite phone in a vehicle, you will typlically need a docking station for the sat phone and an antenna.  The docking station or dock is where the satellite phone sits inside the vehicle and, depending on the model, can offer a plethora of features including hands-free, bluetooth, panic button, GPS tracking and more.  An antenna is installed outside the vehicle and is connected to the docking station by an antenna cable.  Depending on the antenna, the cable may be included or you might also need an antenna cable.  

Satellite Phone Limitations
Trees, mountains, tall buildings are all natural enemies of satellite phones.  Line of sight to the satellite is required to connect to a network and to make and receive calls.  So if a satellite is behind a building, trees or a mountain, you will not be able to use a satellite phone.


Line of Sight

Countries where Satellite Phones are Restricted
A number of countries in the world have outlawed or banned satellite phones for various reasons.  Following 2011 terror attacks in Mumbai, India banned the use of Iridium and Thuraya satellite phones.  Those bringing in Iridium and Thuraya satellite phones to India, even on a layover, may be subject to arrest and imprisonment.  INMARSAT satellite phones are allowed in India, but you will need permission from the Department of Telecommunications (DoT).

In Cuba, many electronics are prohibited, including satellite phones. You cannot bring or ship a satellite phone into Cuba unless you have a permit from the Cuban Ministry of Informatics and Communications. Cuba restricts the use of satellite phones because they’re seen as tools for subversive purposes; being caught with one can lead to arrest, time in prison, or an espionage charge.

Other countries or regions where satellite phones are restricted, embargoed, banned or illegal include Taliban controlled Afghanistan, Crimea region of Ukraine, Bangladesh, Chad, China, Iran, Libya, Myanmar, Nigeria, North Korea, Russia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Thailand and Vietnam.  This list can change at anytime, so please check with the country you are travelling to avoid unpleasant surprises at the border.


Satellite Phone Reviews

The phone puts my mind at ease should I need it!

"I appreciate the service. I’m out in the bush a lot, and take the phone with me. So far, no emergencies this year, but the phone puts my mind at ease should I need it!"
Mary Ann R. - Invermere, BC, Canada

Pleasantly surprised at the ease of setup
"My new Iridium phone has been successfully setup and deployed to northern Ontario with a family member on a 30 day canoe trip. I was very pleasantly surprised at the ease of setup and the acquisition of a strong signal even while in my house! I was a Globalstar customer for almost 10 years and despite numerous financial incentives am now wondering why I remained with them for so long! Thanks to the Canada Satellite team that is now behind me!"
Jim C. - Milton, ON, Canada


Satellite Phone News

Author Adam Shoalts chronicles journey across Canada’s Arctic (, January 17, 2020)

Launch of China's Tiantong satellite phones signal for new high-tech era (, January 16, 2020)

Yukon travellers crash vehicle, then burn it to survive the cold overnight ( January 15, 2020)


Be prepared, B.C. rescuers warn hikers after busy long weekend (, July 1, 2019)

Which Countries Confiscate Satellite Phones? (, October 9, 2018)


Satellite Phone FAQs

Do satellite phones have interent capabilities?
Most satellite phones offer internet access at speeds slower than dial-up.  Remember dial-up?  When the internet used to scream at you when connecting.  Slower than that.  While a satellite phone connection is still useful for certain applications, like downloading weather maps optimized for satellite phones, most users would find this to be painfully slow.  We offer satellite internet terminals which have speeds around 100 times faster than a satellite phone and are made for a variery of applications including marine, portable, vehicular and fixed. 

What are satellite phones?
Satellite phones are handheld (typically) communications devices allow you to communicate where cellular and landline networks are not availble.

Where are satellite phones used?
Satellite phones are typically used in remote areas or at sea. Satellite phones wouldn't typically work well in an urban area

Why are satellite phones used?
Satellite phones provide a form of communication where cellular networks dont reach or are not available.

Who uses satellite phones?
Anyone who works, lives or plays outside of cellular areas.

Can you use an Inmarsat plan on an Iridium phone or vice versa?
No, satelltie phones are proprietary and each phone network has its own selection of plans.

Category Questions

The USB port on 9555's and 9575's is intended for Firmware upgrades and tethering only. Though the charge symbol flashes when plugged in, the power gain is minimal. 

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The one truly global handset is Iridium. The 9555 & 9575 are stand alone units while the Iridium GO! pairs via blue tooth with your cellular phone. 

These options fall under Iridium's global network of 66 low earth orbiting satellite that spend about 11 minutes overhead and then hand off to the next satellite providing coverage in your area.

The Inmarsat handset the ISAT2 is a popular handset that while fantastic for a large portion of the planet fails around the Arctic and Antarctic circles. It is also easier to lose connectivity due to requiring line of sight to a satellite over the equator. 

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The Iridium GO! is designed to accomodate one phone call and up to 4 simultaneous users texting. 

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Satellite phones work just about anywhere on the planet.  Satellite phones don't rely on a terrestrial cell phone network. Instead, they beam their data directly to and from satellites orbiting Earth.

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Iridium is the most reliable network, although, it still has issues in the mountains.  The Iridium 9555 currently costs $1395 and the Iridium Extreme with GPS and SOS features is $1695.  The Iridium GO! can also be used, $999.  A plan, if staying in Canada, is $750 per year, or about $61 / month.  

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If you're thinking about getting a satellite phone, you might wonder: Are satellite phone calls free? You can't call a free number. However, most service providers use a two-stage dialing process, in which the caller dials an access number to make a long-distance call and then inputs the sat phone number and PIN code to connect. This process is called "direct sat phone calling" and it is not considered "free" calling. Direct sat phone calls are charged at a flat rate of $4 to $11 per minute, and the person making the call pays a one-time flat fee of $11. The customer who has the rental phone is not charged for incoming calls.

Incoming calls to satellite phones are not free. You can get a free phone number with some satellite services, but international calls will cost anywhere from $4 to $7 per minute. When you want to make a call from a satellite phone, you need to dial the Inmarsat Phone Number, which is 870-xxxxxxxx or 011 + Inmarsat. A satellite phone is similar to a regular cell-phone, but the cost is higher.

If you want to make satellite phone calls, you need to make sure that your satellite phone is outside. Any obstructions in the way of the satellite can interfere with the signals. Once you have the phone outside, turn it on. Once it registers, you can begin making calls, but you can't reach 1-800 numbers with it. If you're interested in getting a satellite phone, you can read about the costs of using it here.

You can make free satellite phone calls with the +1 Access plan, but you'll have to pay for incoming calls. The service costs $15 per month and is a good choice for any satellite phone user. It has no hidden fees, and it's easy to use. It's also worth considering the type of environment you're going to be in. If you need to use it in the office, you can get specialized accessories for it.

If you're not using a satellite phone in an office or business, it's possible that you'll have to pay for a monthly activation fee. You'll also have to pay for the +1 Access plan. Nonetheless, this service isn't available with the Inmarsat service. If you want to keep calls free, you can use SatCollect. It's a great choice for any satellite phone user.

There are no free incoming calls on a satellite phone. Despite the fact that most of them work well in the U.S., they can be expensive in areas without a reliable service. In addition, they don't work in all areas. Several companies offer better coverage in certain regions. If you're going to travel frequently, it's best to purchase a pre-paid plan, which can range from $100 to $5,000.

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There are several ways to track satellite phones. The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a San Francisco nonprofit, has written about the potential risks journalists face when using satellite phones for reporting. Some satellite phones can be tracked using radio frequency emissions, which are easily received by a trained technician. Another method is to use a tracking device, such as an Iridium Extreme, to send position reports on a scheduled basis. In order to track a satellite phone, the phone must be powered on and registered with the network.

The technology for tracking a satellite phone is fairly accurate. It looks at the world from space and combines the signals of cell towers and other devices to determine the exact location of the device. However, consumer-grade tracking devices are rarely accurate enough to pinpoint the exact location of the phone to within a few inches. They're often off by 32 to 98 feet, or 10 to 30 meters, or as much as 164 feet. The professional-grade trackers are more reliable.

The accuracy of satellite-based tracking depends on several factors. Because of the large number of users and different types of phones, not all phones are capable of being tracked by satellite. For example, some cellular phones don't have the hardware to track by a satphone, while Treo and BlackBerry are popular brands that can be tracked by satellite. In addition to the limitations of a satellite-based tracking device, smartphones without a trilateration chip rely on WiFi and cell towers to get the location.

Although the technology used to track satellite phones is fairly accurate, it is rarely accurate enough to pinpoint a phone's position to a few inches. The most accurate consumer-grade trackers are about 32 to 98 feet off, and as high as 164 feet. Military and professional-grade trackers generally perform better. They do not require the assistance of a third-party. If you have a smartphone, satellite phone tracking may be a great option.

As long as a satellite phone is within range of a GPS tower, you can use a satellite phone tracker to track its owner. Most consumer-grade trackers work in countries around the world, but they are not very accurate. These devices must be placed where they can be seen. In addition, they can also be used to monitor an individual's location in a foreign country. They work by a line of sight.

As long as a phone is within the range of the satellite, the device will be able to track the user. The technology is very accurate. Some consumer-grade trackers can trace the user's location to within an inch. If a satellite phone is within range of a cellular tower, the tracking service is more accurate than the cellular tower. Some smartphones have the hardware necessary to be tracked by satellite.

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There are three main satellite phone providers. Globalstar, Iridium, and Inmarsat cover the largest areas and offer 100 percent coverage. Each provider has its own strengths and weaknesses, but they all have their advantages. Ultimately, it comes down to what you need from your phone. Listed below are some of the features that each provider has to offer. Read on to discover which one is best for your needs.

For people who live far from the nearest land, the best satellite phone provider is Iridium. The company is the only one that makes phones that can function in the polar regions. Their phones are more advanced and have better features. Some users prefer Iridium because of its low price and high-quality service. If you're looking for a quality sat phone, Iridium is your best bet.

You should also consider the cost of calling a satellite phone. Most providers provide only US and Canada-based phone numbers. If you want to talk to friends and family in the US, Iridium is the best choice. Besides offering high-quality phones, they also offer a range of features, including a GPS receiver. For people who live in the polar regions, Iridium is the best choice.

Choosing a satellite phone provider is an important decision. Different providers have different pricing plans and features. Depending on your budget, you can choose from a monthly, annual, or lifetime plan. VoIP is more affordable if you have reliable internet connection. However, satellite phones are a better option for people who need to be mobile but cannot always stay connected to a network. It is possible to call an operator and get help if your service doesn't work properly.

A satellite phone can cost a few dollars a month to several hundred dollars. Depending on the type of device, the equipment costs vary. If you are traveling to remote areas, you can choose the most reliable satellite phone based on its location. But you should also consider whether you need a feature that isn't available in your country. If you don't want to spend a lot of money, consider switching to another provider.

There are two main types of satellite phones. You can choose the one that offers the highest quality and lowest price. A monthly plan can be costly, and a monthly plan can be an option you may not be able to afford. Generally, you should choose a satellite phone that allows you to make calls from a remote area. If you're traveling to remote locations, you should choose a prepaid plan.

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A satellite phone is a type of mobile device that offers a reliable connection around the world. These phones are especially useful in remote areas, when terrestrial coverage isn't available. There are many benefits of having a satellite phones, and the convenience and functionality is worth the price. Satellite phones can help save lives in emergency situations and disasters. They are very easy to use, and are an excellent tool for coordinating relief efforts. ... Read more

You can not call 911 directly on the Inmarsat phone. The unit does have an 'Emergency SOS' button that is pre-programmable. You can set it up to call someone, send an alert via text or email message and the prime usage is to register yourself with  GEOS, a global rescue service and they will get the message and immediately alert authorities. The 911 Service is provided by a private company who will then alert authorities in your area. This is the US and Canada only. 

This servie applies to Iridium handsets 9505, 9505A, 9575, 9575N, 9555 & 9555N as well.  

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The psuedo country code for Iridium phones is 8816, Inmarsat is 8788. It is an international formated dialing pattern and if you call the sat phone from a conventional line you will be billed for international calling. The location of the handset at the time of the call is not a  determining factor. 

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A SIM card can "sit" for a very long time, the only issue you would have is the cost of the plan. If you prepaid then that cost is only valid for 30 days. The cost may change is the underlying issue. 

In reality the SIM could sit for years. 

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In northern Quebec, the Iridium is a much safer choice.  You will have 66 satellites instead of 1.  Depending on how many minutes you use per month, the Northern Lights plan might be the more economical choice. 


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