Zanshin I Iridium Satellite Telephone

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Defunct Iridium Sailor This large unit unfortunately died and I replaced it with a handheld unit with much more power and capability.
(2008-12-14 20:32:49 DSC-N2 [f/2.8, 10/400s] ISO 160)
Defunct Iridium Sailor
Handheld Iridium phone The new 2010 model from Iridium. The technology of the handset lags a bit from modern cellphone (as does the price at over $1K), but I can reach out and touch someone from the middle of any ocean of the world at any time.
Handheld Iridium phone

Zanshin I had a built-in Iridium Sailor system installed but I had trouble getting it to function and finally gave up trying to get it to work after I realized that it was indeed broken and that nobody would attempt to repair it. I opted to remove the system and purchased the new Iridium Motorola 9555 handset. At the time I was in St. Martin - an optimal location for duty-free purchases, and purchased both the handset and a 500 Minutes of airtime. These minutes last a year and can be extended by adding minutes and the costs runs to about US$1.50 a minute. I used the phone when away from other means of connecting to the internet in order to send/receive e-mails as well as to download weather reports pertinent to my travels. The Iridium system is currently the only truly global satellite phone system and it works just about anywhere. The Inmarsat system covers much of the globe while the Globalstar and Thuraya systems are currently geographically limited. The data transmission rates with Iridium are abysmally slow and cumbersome, but it remains better than nothing. Considering the price of terrestrial cellular phone roaming fees, the $1.50 a minute rate doesn't seem as exorbitant as it first seemed.

The built-in antenna on the Iridium 9555 works quite well outside, and the little puck antenna that is supplied as part of the package makes reception much better and sometime the sound quality and clarity is exceptionally good. It is indeed a nice sensation to be at sea out of sight of land and be able to chat with someone on the other side of the world.

There can be a significant downside to using Iridium - when someone calls the Iridium from a cell-phone number the fees and charges aren't regulated and it can happen that the poor caller gets billed at many $$ per minute, somewhat akin to those ubiquitous 1-900 numbers which have high rates (I speak not from experience, but hearsay...).

Downloadable Manuals page - Iridium Phone Manuals

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