Posted by NorthernAxcess Satellite Communications on March 04, 2014
Satellite airtime is not exactly like choosing a cellular plan at your local cellphone carrier. The prices are quite a bit higher when first observed. However most of the time when people are using satellite phones they are out of the country or way out of typical cellular signal range. So if you were to use your cellphone when out of the country or in any roaming area, you would be paying a lot more than you would pay for satellite airtime. So when choosing satellite airtime you must consider the fact that you are buying it to save on any roaming fees you would probably get with using your cellphone, and also the fact that it is emergency use airtime that could save your life.
When choosing airtime for your satellite phone you will have the choice of either a Prepaid airtime bundle or sim card, or also a monthly type of service agreement where you pay a monthly service charge, and a per minute charge for any minutes used. So we will help you with some different scenarios below so hopefully choosing the right airtime plan is a bit easier, and less shocking.
Prepaid airtime is a very popular choice for many satellite phone users because of the fact that you don't have to worry about signing up for an airtime contract. Lets face it...nobody likes to sign any type of contract much less another monthly airtime contract for a period of a year or two. So prepaid is of course a favorite among many for this single reason. However there are some other reasons pointed out here that make prepaid one of the best options for satellite phone airtime.
|Plan Type||Monthly Fee||Monthly Fee /per yr||Per Min. Rate||Min. Used||Total Yearly||Difference|
*This chart is based of of someone buying a 500 minute iridium prepaid sim card, and likewise someone using 500 minutes on a Basic/Standard monthly iridium airtime plan. However someone of course can use less minutes on a monthly plan, but even if the monthly customer were to use only 200 minute over the course of the year it would still come out to more money than the iridium prepaid airtime card.
So the only disadvantage to this would be the out-of-pocket cost of the satellite prepaid card compared to the monthly activation. This means you would have to spend $720 up front to get the 500 minute/12 month card, whereas to activate the monthly airtime plan it is only a $50 activation fee. For some, this is a big deal and would rather pay over the course of the year in payments.
2. Another advantage to Prepaid is the fact that you do not have to worry about overage charges. Overage charges on monthly plans can be much more if you are on a plan that sections you to lets say 50 minutes a month, and every minute over that is $2 per minute which is kind of where they get you.
3. You can also check your minutes on your satellite prepaid airtime card at anytime. Such as on the iridium prepaid cards you just dial 2888, and it tells you how many minutes you have and how long you have until your card expires. It also does the same thing at the beginning of every call outgoing. On monthly plans you cannot check your minutes at any given moment, because airtime records are not real time with the provider.
4. If your using a lot of minutes per month or per year then prepaid satellite airtime can also better because if you don't mind the out-of-pocket cost discussed above, which in that case you can reduce your per minute cost down to around $.79 per minute or less in some cases. Such as if you are using 3000 minutes per year then a monthly airtime plan if you can imagine based on the above chart would be very high, but on a prepaid card can be only $.95 per minute, and the card itself will not expire for 2 years.
5. Also if your using your satellite phone in only one region such as lets say,..Africa, or North America then you can buy a Regional Prepaid card that can give you rates as low as $.50 per minute or less. Monthly plans do offer certain regional plans from time to time but they still are not as cheap as the regional prepaid satellite airtime.
So to recap what we discussed above regarding the advantages, and disadvantages or satellite prepaid or monthly airtime, here is a point list describing some of the biggest key points to both airtime plans, and what would be best for you:
For any information on airtime plans please visit our airtime section Here.
All prices are in USD.