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Sat phone internet

Old 12th May 2019, 17:19
  #1 (permalink)  
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Join Date: Aug 2007
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Sat phone internet

Anyone had any luck or knows of a way to use a satellite phone to get an internet connection in flight (not too heavy usage, just being able to get on some basic websites and send a few emails but no streaming, etc) ? Having asked around some providers they have only directed me towards the Iridium Go, which is not really fit for that purpose.

Thanks for any input.

DarkSoldier is offline  
Old 12th May 2019, 20:56
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Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: UK
Posts: 333
Firstly, there are likely some EMC issues to be aware of. Satellite phones put out quite a lot of RF power, more than an ordinary mobile. You're probably not allowed to use a portable handset sat phone on an airliner. As for private aircraft, I imagine it's a case of asking the design authority.

Iridium is an extant satellite phone company with cell phone like portability. The new constellation has just gone up, and is (I think) operational, and that's about as good as it can be. It's not great, but it's still a whole lot better than their original 9.6kbit/sec. It's about all you can do with a whip style antenna on top of a handset handling 2W RF close to a human skull. More directional antennas or more power are ways of improving the speed, but then it's not hand carried (the antenna size goes up) or it'll cook the user's grey matter (2W is quite a lot, and as things are they've had to be quite clever with antenna design to end up with a permissable RF level at the skin surface).

There's also Thuraya, don't know what they're doing these days. That's not global coverage.

There's a lot of other satcomm constellations being planned (OneWeb being one happening example), but AFAIK that's intended purely for use by fixed equipment; I don't believe it's intended to mobile use. Pity, that's going to be good for 50Mbit/s, which is quite quick. Having said that, Internet provision on airliners through OneWeb is almost certainly on the company's agenda, but that'll likely need a proper under-a-dome antenna installation, not a mobile handset's dipole. The OneWeb terminals intended for use in a house are going to be electronically steered phased arrays, about the size of a sheet of A4 paper. They're all (e.g. SpaceX's equivalent) going to be about that size, governed by the the unsurmountable restrictions of the laws of physics.
msbbarratt is offline  
Old 12th May 2019, 21:44
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Join Date: Apr 2008
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Hopefully, an Iridium solution works better than an IsatPhone Pro from Inmarsat !

I had difficulty even getting a voice call through on several occasions despite having an unobstructed view of the sky in the right direction and elevation angle towards the satellite.. Inmarsat uses geostationary satellites, hopefully the moving Iridium constellation works better ( never used Iridium).

I would think that you'd need a proper antenna mounted on the top of an aircraft fuselage for internet connectivity so that 'line of sight' is established.
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