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Seven Secrets about Buying Satellite Phones from the Low Cost Vendors

Jul 21, 2008
Making a decision to buy a Satellite Phone based on price alone could cost you and your organization dearly in valuable time and money after the sale. These seven secrets will help you make the right decision and avoid the hidden costs of buying a Satellite Phone from the low-cost provider. Savvy purchasers know that low-cost typically translates to the lowest overall value over time.

SECRET #1. All Iridium "kits" are not created equal:
If it costs less, you are most likely getting less. Standard iridium satellite phone kits ought to include everything you need complete with universal chargers for use anywhere in the world, car charger, hands free device, remote antennae, etc. Purchasing a "bare bones" kit only to have to order add-ons will cost far more than you planned.

SECRET #2. Pooled airtime saves YOU money:
Regardless of how strenuously a vendor objects, airtime really can be pooled. Any vendor selling Iridium airtime is buying that time by the minute. Pooling airtime is simply a process of keeping track of the phones a client has and the vendor making the decision to count the airtime as one account. Pooling airtime saves money, especially when you have a vendor who will adjust monthly minutes up and down. This benefit can reduce call rates to a fraction of what non-pooling vendors charge.

SECRET #3. How the phone is packaged will save time and money:
In an emergency situation, would you and your staff rather open a ready-to-use kit and make calls within several minutes or receive boxes of components requiring time consuming unpacking and lengthy assembly before the phones are usable?

Imagine receiving a box from the vendor containing multiple packages of parts and pieces and having to figure out where everything will go and how to ensure nothing is lost. Where do all the accessories go? Into pockets, luggage or a box to bounce around and become damaged and unusable? Replacing accessories for iridium phones is costly.

Phones should be packed neatly in a custom carrying case with the charger, user guide and the accessories "all ready to go". While many vendors may offer an enticing low price, the real expense will come when you have to replace lost or broken pieces and to wade through cumbersome packaging to locate and assemble the essential components of the phone.

SECRET #4. Not all satellite phones are user ready right out of the box:
Once you've received your satellite phone, the first thing you'll want to do is use it. Unless you receive the phones fully charged, you'll be waiting a while. Charging phones takes critical time assuming you can find enough electrical outlets that work.

If you are an Emergency Responder or located in a remote area, can you afford to be in that scenario? Insist your vendor takes the time to charge the phones for you as an integral part of your purchase. Sending an uncharged, unprepared phone is no way to deliver critical communications tools to a client.

SECRET #5 Labeling handsets with phone numbers will eliminate unnecessary delays.
Labeling phones is so simple and, yet, so often not done by most vendors. Imagine your team deployed in the field and ready for action. How will you know and disseminate a list of phone numbers? Without labeling, precious time is wasted tracking down information, searching through menus or calling your vendor (hoping they'll actually answer the phone and deliver what you need).

Labeling is such a simple step, but left undone can mean immeasurable frustration and, more importantly, cost you and your staff valuable time.

SECRET #6 Simple directions are hard to find.
Your lowest-cost provider supplied phones have arrived ready for you to use immediately! Really? Perhaps not.

Imagine the questions you'll encounter upon opening the pre-packaged factory box. "So, how do you make a phone call? Hey - anybody know how to use this thing?"

Think of pouring through indexes and chapters of the in-depth owner's manual provided by Iridium. Conversely, now think of a one page laminated Quick Start Guide that enables you to be operational in just a few minutes. Every Satellite Phone vendor should provide, as a minimum, a guide with step-by-step instructions for immediately making a call, whether to a mobile number, landline or another Iridium satellite phone.

SECRET #7 You will need more than a phone.
Satellite phones are typically the communication vehicle when all other means of communication fail. If you are an emergency responder, a government agency that must communicate to its constituency during a crisis, or a senior executive chartered with the responsibility of business continuity during a man-made or natural disaster, your satellite phone service provider must be available to you and your staff 24 hours a day?

Will your lowest-cost provider be there when you need them? Can the lowest cost provider afford an investment of a highly trained support staff? Will they be available 7 X 24? During an emergency response or business continuity situation, will you have real support from real people who listen to and respond to your concerns and needs?

Working with a Satellite phone provider that answers your calls anytime is critical to ensuring you and your team can function with the greatest speed, efficiency and effectiveness. The lesson is simple: Don't ever work with a provider that doesn't provide 24 X 7 services.

CONCLUSION:
Buying your Iridium phones from the lowest cost provider will always prove to be the most expensive option. This is not a responsible position to be in if you rely on satellite communications for day-to-day operations or if the general public is relying on you to save lives during and after a disaster.

As you compare options to meet your needs, choose a provider who prices accordingly and provides all the value-added, time-saving, stress-reducing services we've listed and treats you as a client, a provider interested in taking care of you, building a relationship and nurturing that relationship over a long period of time.
About the Author
Lou Altman is the CEO and Founder of GlobaFone, an award winning, leading provider of Iridium Satellite Phones and global wireless solutions to Government and enterprise clients for the past 10 years. The complete article can be viewed at http://www.SatellitePhoneStraightTalk.com. GlobaFone is located in Portsmouth, NH and Lou can be reached on 603-433-7232.
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