Iridium Pilot (starting at$ 4,995 ) is Iridium newest maritime communications system with voive and data up to 134 kbps.It offers true Internet protocol connectivity with up to three phones to help the crew stay in touch with family and friends ,even during data transmission .There´s an easy separation of crew costs from ship´s business for simplified accounting .

Iridium Pilot

The Iridium Pilot is based on the Iridium OpenPort Broadband service for email , web brwosing and business operations and has several service plans to meet a boat´s needs and budget .The costs should be less than with other systems since OpenPort ´s service plans replac per-minute with per-megabyte rates ,which Iridium claims to be more cost-effective ,at least 10 times less expensive than the Iridium 9555 or 9575 .

The Iridium Pilot uses Internet protocol based on packet switching .A single Ethernet port enables you to connect directly to a router or hub for connecting multiple PCs.There is also the option of adding the Iridium Optimizer and XGate services to use a laptop ,iPad ,Android tablet or smartphone to access email ,the Internet ,whether data via grib files and post to social media all through a simple WI-FI connection.

The Iridium Pilot ´s below deck equipment measures 7.78″ x 9.8″ x 2.17″ and weights 2.98 pounds.The omnidirectional antenna is 8 inches tall ,22.1 inches in diameter and weight 27.5 pounds.It can be mounted anywhere on deck and doesn´t need a stabilizer .

Wright suggests Globalstar´s GPS -2900 fixed mount satellite phone($1,699).This unit creates a satellite connection for up to five standard corded household telephones with cable runs up to 800 feet.”Users may add a data connection -19,200 bps -to the GPS -2900 to send and receive email and pictures ,surf the Internet and even access low bandwitdth websites using a PC or smartphone” , he says .

Data cable runs can be 300 feet with options to extend out to 450 feet .Additional accesories are required for this at a cost  of about $330.The below desks equipment measures 9.8″ x 8.5″ x 2.3″ and weights 6.7 pounds.

Inmarsat offering´s in this market are based on its FleetBroadband service and BGAN or Broadband Global Area Network .It offers marine global satellite Internet ,voice  and texting using domed terminal antennas.

The FB-150($6,250) is Inmarsat ´s entry-level service and features the smallest and lightest FleetBroadband  antenna at 11.5 inches diameter and it weighs 8.5 pounds .Below -deck equipment measures 10.9″ x 9.1″ x 1.6″ and 4.8 pounds .The FB-150 provides access for up to three additional telephone and lines and always -on IP data service with up to 150 kbps  for email and Internet access , real-time electronic users and weather reporting.

Users send and receive text messages to and from other FleetBroadband terminals and land-based cellular networks through a PC.Voicemail and other call management options – such as caller identification ,caller blocking and call for-warding – are available , as well  as emergency calling to maritime rescue centres at no charge .

The FB-250($10,999) and FB-500 ($15,999) offer all of these features .But in terms of the data speed ,the FB-500 provides speeds of up to 284 kgps and the FB-500  up to 432 kgbps.Both the FB-250 and FB-500  will accomodate up to nine voice lines.Both offer streaming IP on  demand for live applications ,such as video conferenicing ,the FB-250 at 128 kgbps and FB-500 at 256 kbps.

However , if all you need is basic communications ,tracking and emergency notification -not two -way voice conversations -devices like the DeLorme InReach SE ($299.95 )  and the SPOT Gen3 ($149.95 ) may work for you .

The InReach SE is a pocket-sized phone with adjustable tracking intervals from 2 minutes to 4 hours that allow you to track your trip and share your location .You can send 160 -character texts ,read incoming messages on the screen and send SOS alerts.


The SPOT Gen3 is another shirt pocket-sized device that allows you to contact to GEOS international emergency responders ,check in with family and friends ,share GPS coordinates and track your boat ,all at the push of a button .Tracking intervals can be set to 2.5 , 5,10 ,30 or 60 minutes .The purchase tracking ,and you can add unlimited tracking for an additional $50 per year .

Another option is an iPhone or Android .They can be turned into a global navigation tool when it´s paired up  with the free Earthmate app.The unit will send SOS signlas with GPS location data to GEOS emergency response centers and communicate with response team via two-way text messaging during rescue operations.Service plans are available with contract-free ,month-to-month subscriptions from $14.95 per month or annual subscriptions from $11.95 per month .


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