Having a conversation, then loosing the mobile signal can be frustrating at the best of times. Now with developing new business ideas, that problem will be something of the past.
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A regular mobile phone—an unlocked model with the right SIM card, of course—is enough to keep you in touch around most of the populated parts of the world. But if you really want to go into the boonies, or if you can’t be bothered with international roaming plans or renting local SIMs, you’ll appreciate a device that can talk to satellites.
For a few years, those wanting a sat-comms device were limited to one-way text messaging. But lately, devices capable of two-way satellite-based data communications have continued to mature and become more accessible (and affordable) for the average traveller. Key to this maturation is the arrival of mobile devices that can talk to the Iridium Satellite Network. It’s a commercially-operated network that spans the entire globe, so you can almost always chat with the folks back home, even if you’re in the middle of the ocean, wandering through the desert, or trekking deep into the polar regions.
I tested two Iridium-based devices: The DeLorme InReach SE and the ROM Communications Text Anywhere. I’ll state right up front that these hand-held units do have their limitations. You have to keep all your messages under 160 characters just like SMS, and because the antenna works to constantly stay connected, the batteries will drain more quickly when the unit can’t see to the satellites. So if you’re surrounded by trees, cliffs, or thick walls and ceilings, you will have trouble sending an update.
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