Satellite phones are not for everyone. Satellite phones do not work well in a building or in a car without an external antenna that gives the satellite phone line-of-site to one of the satellites. So that being the case they are not a replacement for your cellular phone. They are larger than today’s cellular phones, making them rather bulky and will unlikely never get to the size of a cellular phone.
That being said, who would use a satellite phone? Satellite phones are used when cellular and landline service is either unavailable or has been disrupted.
The recreational user that travels outside of cellular range would find a satellite very handy as a safely tool in emergency situations. If you find yourself in the middle of nowhere miles from the nearest road or town a satellite phone could mean the difference between life and death. Many have died from exposure, starvation or injuries, when help could be just a phone call away. Many lives have been saved because of a satellite phone. A handheld satellite phone is simple to use and can be stored in any backpack ready to use.
The emergency management called in a catastrophic situation must have communications to move resources and people to save lives quickly. If cellular or landline communications have been disrupted a satellite phone is a must. After hurricane Katrina, satellite phones were heavily used and saved lives. After Katrina cellular and landline service was almost nonexistent so FEMA and other emergency management personnel relied on satellite phones for their communication.
Recreational boaters that travel off the coast would discover a satellite phone as a very valuable tool. When traveling outside of cellular range on the water most boaters use their marine radios for communication, but if you travel far from shore you must try contacting another boat closer to shore by radio to relay messages. This is not a very reliable way to communicate. If there is mechanical break down or worse the vessel starts to take on water a satellite phone could come in very handy- again it could mean life or death. Help could just be a phone call away. The coast guard could rescue you with just a phone call.
Captains of chartered boats would find a satellite phone a necessary tool not only for safety, but to make money. A captain that charters a boat for customers must book trips back to back as much as possible in the busy season. If he as a four hour morning trip, but doesn’t have an afternoon trip booked and no one can get in touch with him to book an afternoon trip he has lost money. The phone could pay for itself with just a few bookings.
Utility companies near the coast have found satellite phones to be very useful for backup communications. After a hurricane or tornado cellular and landline communication can be overloaded or disrupted. It is critical for a utility company to get service back up and running to help restore power. The movement of people and resources are important and without reliable communications this could be very difficult. Utility company repair workers many times find themselves far from cellular range when maintaining power lines. Repair workers could utilize satellite phones in cases of an accident or if management needs to get in touch with them for a change in plans.
The military is the largest user of satellite phones. All the branches of the military utilize satellite phones for reliable worldwide communications. The movement of resources around the world could not be accomplished without reliable satellite communications. Whether on the ground or at sea the military relies on satellite communications 24/7.
Anyone can purchase a satellite phone; it is not limited for government or commercial use. When traveling outside of terrestrial communication satellite phones can offer the peace of mind that reliable communication is always there.