How Much Does a Satellite Phone Cost?

By Heather Wilkins

A mountain climber talking on a satellite phone, standing next to his partner
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Because satellite phones communicate via satellites rather than cell phone towers, they offer telephone coverage in remote areas all over the world. Each of the three major satellite networks -- Iridium, Inmarsat and Globalstar -- maintain their own networks, and their phones are exclusive to their own networks. When you are deciding which phone to purchase or rent, factor in activation costs, overage minute rates, the accessories that come with the phone, and the areas the satellite network covers in addition to the base cost of the phone and service plan. The mentioned prices are current as of June 2014.

Buying and Renting

Satellite phone retailers can sell or rent you a satellite phone. Each retailer specializes in certain brands and models. The Iridium 9575 Extreme can be purchased for $1,295 from BlueCosmo or rented for $66 a week from GlobalCom. The IsatPhone Pro from Inmarsat can be purchased for $600 from BlueCosmo or rented for $30 per week from The Globalstar GSP-1700 can be obtained from BlueCosmo and GlobalCom for $500. You can rent the unit for a week from GlobalCom for $46.

Postpaid Plans

Satellite phone service providers offer yearly or monthly postpaid plans. Some plans are month-to-month, but others require a year or two-year contract. Most plans include a few minutes, and additional minutes are billed at a higher rate. For instance, Iridium monthly service plans at start at $50 and include at least 20 minutes. Additional minutes are $1.79, but the rate decreases with larger plans. Globalstar offers annual plans that start at $300 per year with 120 included minutes, and additional minutes are $1.99 or less.

Prepaid Plans

If you prefer to purchase minutes without a contract, go with a prepaid plan. Each plan is good for a specified amount of time. At GlobalCom, you can purchase a prepaid plan starting at $35 for 25 units, valid for 30 days. Calls to landlines and cell phones, text messages and data usage consume differing unit amounts.

Rental Plans

When you rent a satellite phone from a service provider, you need to purchase airtime from it, too. The rates vary depending on the phone you rent. For instance, at BlueCosmo you can purchase unlimited minutes for $30 per week for a GlobalStar phone, but you must buy a prepaid minute bundle for an Inmarsat phone, starting at $30 for 25 minutes.