Globalstar Introduces Satellite Wi-Fi Hotspot


This week, Globalstar becomes the latest satellite company to offer a Wi-Fi hotspot. But the device might be beyond anyone but the serious connection-minded.

Wireless hotspots based on cellular networks have been available for years.  Only recently has the satellite industry started playing catch up and it shows in the features and speeds offered through each service providers' devices.  There's also a trade-off between mobility and high-speed.  You can have an easily portable satellite broadband connection, but you aren't going to be pumping multimegabit speeds without a dish antenna.

At a list price of $999, Globalstar's Sat-Fi  device falls into the "no dish, but portable" category. The box-shaped device (16 cm x 16 cm x 6.1 cm) offers data rates of 9.6 Kbps, plus the ability to support SIP voice calling and SMS texting with the use of soft clients—but only one voice call at a time.  Wi-Fi support includes 802.11 b/g/n at a range of up to 100 feet, depending on the band, and up to 8 users at once.  

Satellite connectivity requires a small antenna, with three options for pole or magnetic mounted.  As you would expect with a portable device of this type, Sat-Fi can be powered through AC or DC power, with a 12v DC car adapter included.

Sat-Fi's soft client is probably the most interesting part of the package.  Available for Android, Apple iOS, Mac, and Windows, the soft client enables simple 10 digit dialing, caller ID and access to the onboard contact list of a smartphone.  Support for both voice and SMS is included.  

SIP calls are made using 9.6 Kbps.  Don't expect HD voice quality, but Globalstar boasts the highest quality satellite calls due to a combination of higher bandwidth—competitors such as Iridium Go use a paltry 2.4 Kbps—and a low-flying satellite constellation to cut out transmission lag.  The company recently launched a new set of satellites and is eager to get more paying minutes onto the network.

Speaking of minutes, you also need to buy either a monthly or yearly service plan to use the Globalstar satellite network.  A basic 40 minute plan will cost $50 for activation and $40 per month, with additional voice/data at $0.99/minute.  Unlimited minutes cost $150 per month; at 9.6 Kbps, you aren't going to be downloading movies from iTunes.

Globalstar is pitching Sat-Fi to any vertical going beyond the reach of cellular, including energy, marine, emergency management, construction, and transportation.  But even deep-pocket verticals will have some second thoughts in purchasing the device, given Globalstar is effectively giving away its low-cost satellite phones if you sign up for a 24 month contract.  It is likely the $999 list price will be weakened over time with discounts to around $500 as the company works to sign customers to long-term contracts.

Edited by Maurice Nagle

Contributing Editor

Related Articles

Coding and Invention Made Fun

By: Special Guest    10/12/2018

SAM is a series of kits that integrates hardware and software with the Internet. Combining wireless building blocks composed of sensors and actors con…

Read More

Facebook Marketplace Now Leverages AI

By: Paula Bernier    10/3/2018

Artificial intelligence is changing the way businesses interact with customers. Facebook's announcement this week is just another example of how this …

Read More

Oct. 17 Webinar to Address Apache Spark Benefits, Tools

By: Paula Bernier    10/2/2018

In the upcoming webinar "Apache Spark: The New Enterprise Backbone for ETL, Batch and Real-time Streaming," industry experts will offer details on clo…

Read More

It's Black and White: Cybercriminals Are Spending 10x More Than Enterprises to Control, Disrupt and Steal

By: Cynthia S. Artin    9/26/2018

In a stunning new report by Carbon Black, "Hacking, Escalating Attacks and The Role of Threat Hunting" the company revealed that 92% of UK companies s…

Read More

6 Challenges of 5G, and the 9 Pillars of Assurance Strategy

By: Special Guest    9/17/2018

To make 5G possible, everything will change. The 5G network will involve new antennas and chipsets, new architectures, new KPIs, new vendors, cloud di…

Read More