Text – SMS messaging for satellite phones is an affordable way of global communication. It works the same as for cell phones, however there are a few notable exceptions. It doesn't always work as expected, have a look and save some money and frustration;
Sending text messages to satellite phone number
With the massive boom of the cell phone / mobile phone market, sending text / SMS messages to satellite phones has also been on the rise. It’s easily up to 100x cheaper than making a voice call to a satellite phone.
Unfortunately sending Text - SMS messages to satellite phones doesn’t always work as expected.
|Testing SMS text messages between mobile cellphone and satellite phone
It depends on SMS / text messaging contracts between mobile phone networks and satellite phone network operators.
If there is no SMS / Text messaging contract with a satellite network operator, sending a text message to a satellite phone or vice versa simply does not work. Often without text notification or SMS rejection message.
For example this was the situation in 2006;
|SMS Text message contracts with satellite phone network operators.
Satellite VOICE calls did work but SMS text messaging didn't between Thuraya <-> Vodafone.
NOTE: The above mentioned SMS roaming agreement is a bit confusing - the Thuraya satellite phone was actually used in Asian countries at that time. In this article it's referred to as a SMS text message contract.
In 2012 Vodafone Netherlands now has a SMS text message contract with Thuraya. So the situation in 2012 is much better compared to 6 years ago. But still there's no guarantee cell phone text SMS messaging actually works for other networks.
One thing hasn't changed - normal SMS text messages are always charged by Thuraya, regardless if text messages arrive or not. In 2012 Thuraya charges 49 cents (US$) for a normal SMS text message.
Satellite phone SMS text messaging test
To be sure SMS Text messaging from a mobile cellphone works – test it or contact the cellphone network operator to specifically ask about the SMS / text messaging contract for a particular satellite phone network operator.
As per default, voice calls to satellite phone numbers usually do work – against hefty charges – but again there are exceptions.
|Prepaid cards from Greece, Turkey, Iran, UAE, Pakistan, Oman, Pakistan, UAE and Nepal.
||Portuguese Vodafone datacard
Does NOT work with Thuraya.
Voice calls with cheap prepaid cellphone contracts (ie: virtual cellphone networks) might not work because prepaid balance might not cover the high 'per minute' charge of the satellite phone voice call (up to approx € 11,- per minute).
SMS text messaging to satellite phones
Before taking of on a journey, make sure SMS text messaging between a cellphone and satellite phone network does work. Finding out during an emergency is not the moment.
If not sure - always ask for manual text message confirmation from the recipient. Do not trust SMS text message delivery reports.
As a rule of thumb, when SMS text messaging from a subscribed cellphone number (not prepaid) to a satellite phone does work, there's a better chance SMS text messaging for the prepaid variant on the same cellphone network also works.
When Cellphone to Satellite phone SMS text messaging works - the reverse works too:
|SMS text messages between mobile cellphone and satellite phone
If a voice call to a satellite phone does not work, SMS text messaging usually doesn’t either. However when it does work, there's still a chance SMS text messaging doesn't. Test it to make sure.
Internet only (prepaid) data contracts with bundles of SMS text messages, sending text / SMS messages to satellite phones usually do not work. Text SMS Messaging service for these data (prepaid) contracts can be limited to national operators only.
Free Satellite phone SMS / Text messaging
As an alternative, most satellite phone network operators have a free SMS / Text messaging service on the internet. An overview with a few details;
Works for +87077 Inmarsat numbers
The SMS text message system is secure (HTTPS)
Delivery is usually within one minute. If not check Line Of Sight or call 150 (balance check) to receive the SMS txt message.
Occasionally the web based SMS text message system doesn't work. Contact Thuraya to restart it.
For +8816 Iridium numbers
Send free SMS text messages
|Sending free SMS text messages to Satellite phone numbers
The free SMS / Text messaging service on the internet is a simple way to stay in touch.