Most satellite networks have special modified versions of their hardware for maritime use. This enables you to make emergency calls, stay in touch with home or download weather and/or current forecasts (GRIB files) from the shelter of your cabin. Depending on your needs you have the following options:

Your options

1. Handheld

Handhelds are simple, relatively cheap, reliable (often dust and waterproof) and mobile. With a handheld you are not stuck at a particular spot – you can take it with you in a life-raft if needed. If your main use for a satphone is emergencies, a handheld probably is the way to go. With the possibility to send and receive cheap texts from/to home as a bonus.

The Iridium Go! is a popular option with sailors. Essentially this is a handheld device (it has the same data connection as other Iridium handheld devices) without built-in voice features. The upside is that it comes with an app that allows you to view small GRIB-files on your smartphone. The downside is that the Go! cannot be considered as reliable for emergency situations as other handhelds because you depend on a consumer grade smartphone – contrary to i.e. the military grade Iridium 9575.

Do note, that if you are under sail your sail will block a portion of the sky, this increases the chance of call-drops with Iridium. Even though, for sailing we generally recommend Iridium as there is no hassle pointing the antenna towards the satellite in rough sea. Please have a look at our ‘satellite networks’ section for more details on the differences between satellite networks. Or have a look at the video on our handhelds section for a demonstration how to use a satellite handheld.

2. Fixed Terminal or Dock

A handheld only receives calls when the antenna is out and connected to the network. If you are in need of the possibility to receive and make phone-calls the way you are used to at home and value a stable connection, you need a fixed antenna on your boat – about the size of a GPS-antenna. With a fixed antenna you have the choice between a fixed terminal or a dock for your handheld. A dock offers you flexibility with the option to take your handheld with you. A fixed terminal generally has a more reliable data-connection (for small GRIB-files) and often offers the possibility to connect other devices: a normal or wireless phone, a fax, etc.

When using a low-bandwidth terminal it is recommendable to optimise any internet services used. In example by sending and receiving e-mails in plain text. There exist special satellite optimised e-mail-, GRIB-, and web- services. As well as dedicated satellite ‘hardware firewalls’ that are especially configured to minimise your data usage. Some of this ‘hardware firewalls’ offer hybrid solutions and switch between the marina WiFi, LTE (4G) or satellite internet depending on the availability!

3. ‘Broadband’ terminal


The internet-connection of a fixed terminal with a small – GPS sized antenna is still very limited. If you are in need of a remote internet connection, enabling ‘real’ e-mail, WhatsApp, downloading large GRIB-files, sending files, sending pictures and/or basic browsing, a satellite broadband’ modem is the solution you need.

All you need is a satellite modem with external antenna-dome – about the size of a radar, set it up, connect your computer, and you are good to go to check your e-mails or WhatsApp messages (through Wi-Fi). You pay per megabyte (‘shared’ connection) or per minute (‘private’ stream – more expensive). With special software it is possible to keep your data-usage to a minimum. It is important that any background data-usage (i.e. auto-update) is turned off on your device.  

One big advantage that ‘broadband’ satellite modems offers is the possibility to simultaneously use data and voice services. Thus, providing you with an offshore ‘office’. The voice-rates through satellite modems are often very attractively priced. compared to handhelds.

Over the past decade Inmarsat was by far the leading network in satellite data connectivity with its FleetOne and FleetBroadBand service. In 2019 Iridium launched its new Certus service that is currently still in development and expected to become the industry leader for the next few years.

For a general description of what is and what isn’t possible with satellite internet – see our internet section.

What we offer

We can provide you with:

  1. New, rental (€2.50 p/d), lease or second life Handhelds
  2. New, rental (starting at €2.50 p/d), lease or second life Fixed Terminals
  3. New ‘Broadband’ Internet fixed terminals
  4. Rental Toughbooks with data- and plotter software pre-installed (12v charger & GPS included)
  5. Rental Man Over Board locator beacons (€2.50 p/d)
  6. Dedicated trackers and handheld GPS devices with charting options
  7. Dedicated satellite e-mail, GRIB and web services, satellite ‘hardware firewalls’ and satellite WiFi hotspots
  8. Airtime for Handhelds
  9. Airtime / data for both Inmarsat and Iridium Certus

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Personal advice?

In need of more personal advice? Contact us.