A satellite phone will not replace a cellular phone for everyday communications. A satellite phone has its limitations. When using a handheld satellite phone without an outside antenna, you must be outside away from large structures and trees so you can obtain line-of-site to a satellite.
Rental is a great option if you only need a satellite phone for a short duration... such as a cruise or remote hiking trip taken outside of cellular communications. Weekly and monthly short term rentals are usually available except during a heavy travel season such as July. Short term satellite phone rentals are in small supply during emergency situations, which include hurricanes hitting the coast and now earthquakes are causing a new demand for short term rental.
If you are not sure if you want to rent or buy a satellite phone is it always best to rent before buying. Satellite phones are not for everybody and will not replace your cellular phone for everyday use. Many satellite phone suppliers will credit your first week’s rental toward the purchase of a satellite phone.
Rentals are very simple to obtain. You simply fill out an online form or fill out rental forms and fax them to the satellite phone dealer. The forms you fill out tell the satellite phone dealer when you want to receive the phone and the duration of the rental. You can rent numerous accessories which include cigarette lighter adapters, additional batteries, pelican cases and solar panels. In some cases you can purchase prepaid minutes at a discount if you plan to use the phone for more than emergencies.
The satellite phone dealer air ships the phone to arrive on your desired delivery date. You need to read the basic instructions and familiarize yourself with the phone before you depart on your trip.
Testing the phone is also very important before you leave. After your trip or when you are through using the rental satellite phone you simply ship the phone back to the satellite phone dealer. It is important to ship the phone back to prevent additional rental fees. Most dealers will give you two to three days grace period to return the phone after the rental period.
After you rent the phone and decide to purchase you have a number of service options. If you only use the phone for short periods and don’t plan to use the phone every month prepaid service may be your best option.
Prepaid service allows you to purchase a block of minutes up front that will expire after a predetermined period of time which could be for a month or a year. When the prepaid minutes is close to expiring you have the option to purchase additional minutes.
If prepaid service is not for you there are numerous monthly plans similar to cellular service. You have a monthly set of minutes that will be included in your service plan with an overage per minute rate.
If you are in an area such as the coast where hurricanes can occur or in an area where earthquakes can occur obtaining rental satellite phones can be very difficult for two reasons. First the demand for satellite phones during a large disaster is great making the supply of rental units very limited. Second common carriers which include UPS and Federal Express usually stop shipping in areas where large disasters have occurred.
If it is necessary to have emergency communications at a moments notice and if cellular and landline communications is disrupted it would be best to purchase a satellite phone.