The new SPOT Global Phone with satellite antennae in the stowed position.
You have probably heard something about the new Global Phone from SPOT. Well, I now have one and am in the process of trying to figure out if it is something I should keep in my system.
Satellite antennae extended.
Let me remind you of the backstory on this. Years ago, when I was “Foxrider” or the Airborne SAR Tech EMT on the Sheriff’s cool as shit Bell 407 helicopter aka Fox 1, I wore a Superman suit and a Tactical Tailor Utility Vest filled with all sorts of lifesaving goodies. As you can imagine communications was a big deal for me. Lives, mine and the people I was sent to help, often depended on good comms from very remote locations.
To that end, I carried three communicators with me. Two Motorola HT1000 radios. One was VHF so I could talk to the boys in the bird on simplex and our dispatcher through a repeater if one was close enough (it usually wasn’t). The other Moto was of the UHF flavor so I could patch with my base hospital via the EMSCom state wide repeater system run by the Arizona Department of Public Safety. Unfortunately EMSCom also required reasonably good line of site to a repeater. My third and fail-safe option was a Globalstar satellite telephone, the tri-mode GSP1600 and then later on the smaller lighter GSP1700.
I was a big fan of the Globalstar phone. It worked every time I needed it to and the sound quality while talking to those pretty ER nurses was excellent. Unfortunately, a technical problem in their satellite constellation eventually degraded service coverage to the point that I stopped using it. The good thing that came out of that dark period was the SPOT Satellite Messenger, an outstanding product that I currently use and recommend.
Globalstar took it in the shorts financially in the years it has taken to replace their defective satellites and while I hear they could benefit from sending up a few more, they say full service has been restored. No one is happier about that than me, there are only two players (serving North America) in this niche market and competition is almost always good for end users. The Iridium alternative has reaped the benefits of being a de facto lone provider in the interim but they have some issues they will have to deal with soon regarding their own constellation. Iridium has had its own financial issues in the past, their satellites have been up there a long time, they use old technology, space is an extremely adverse environment, and it will be very expensive to replace them with next generation sats. So, is Globalstar back and is their system as good as it once was? I don’t know, I hope so.
Globalstar owns SPOT and I think they were smart to capitalize on the positive SPOT brand for this sat phone product but the SPOT Global Phone is, near as I can tell, the same Globalstar GSP1700 I used to have. Whether you call it the SPOT Global Phone or the Globalstar GSP1700 it is a well designed, full featured sat phone with a small, lightweight form factor that I like very much as long as the network that supports it works as advertised.
Compact size and lightweight at 7.1 ounces.
Thus beginneth the field testing. Phone arrives at my office, I take the phone out of the packaging, I power up and extend the antennae while walking outside. Within 15 seconds I have a signal, punch a few buttons, another 15 seconds and I hear the call going through, Scham says hello and it sounds as clear as my iPhone. We are off to a good start.
More later taters.
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