Satellite Phones – Finding the Right Provider

I was at the Satellite 2012 conference last week, and the topic of reputable satellite phone providers came up as I asked the five CEOs a question about how they want their products sold.  I cited the recent state bid where a janitorial supply company had won a  bid on BGAN terminals.  The company didn’t even know what a BGAN was, let alone how to support it – they barely knew what they were selling let alone could even call themselves knowledgeable in the world of satellite communication. This is a common dilemma when it comes to being in the business of selling communication equipment that isn’t quite mainstream yet. We have consumers looking for global phones that will work while they are boating or hiking, and frequently companies in search of redundancy options to support disaster recovery efforts. Yet, there is so much more to the process of implementing satellite technology such as voice, data, and tracking systems. Picking the lowest cost provider should be the very last thing you do when making a satellite phone purchase especially when you can find hundreds of providers on the Internet.  You get what you pay for, and (I’ve beat this drum for years), buying the lowest price will ALWAYS cost you more.  Always.

Consider the following key points when choosing a satellite phone, voice, or data package:

1) Consider your long term goals when it comes to using our products, because satellite technology can have an impact on your entire business. For example, will you be transferring data in addition to making phone calls? We ask our clients these questions every time they consider a purchase since we want to make sure they have fully considered the results they need.  Then we can better discuss rate plans, pooling airtime, roll over minutes and more.

2) How long has the provider been in business? This is important to note because I have seen vendors go out of business when they try to offer below cost prices while hiking up service plans. You will lose in the end when the provider is no longer able to honor your contract.  There have been some pretty high profile ‘re-bids’ in this sector due to the low-cost provider going out of business.

3) Where will you be using your satellite solutions? This is key since different manufacturer’s products have varying capabilities depending on the part of the world you are in. Be sure you understand how your phone or device will work when you are out in the ocean, or travelling abroad.

4) Can you pool your airtime? I have not seen any other provider with rate plans that benefit multiple users. For example, GlobaFone will allow many users under one plan to benefit from airtime minutes. The airtime used is deducted from a single rate plan. This is a great way to save costs and not waste minutes.

5) Finally, how does the vendor’s customer service rate? Many providers ship product straight from the manufacturer, not taking time to test the phone, charge the battery, remove the pin code and more. At GlobaFone, we do all of this , and ship phones in a complimentary user kit. Our clients enjoy knowing they are not blindly receiving a phone that may or may not work. We are available 24/7 so there is always help available.  Is your provider there when you need them?

So I encourage you to ask your provider a lot of questions. Don’t just go with a ‘low price wins’ mentality; it iwll cost you much more in the long run.  I speak from experience, having seen it time and time again; a client chooses the lower cost option and then has (expensive) problems.

I encourage your feedback, and can be reached at 603-433-7232 0r e-mail l.altman@globafone.com