SPOT/Globalstar

11:11 p.m. on May 9, 2009 (EDT)
MODERATOR
38 reviewer rep
1,757 forum posts

Bill, I was looking at satphone rental sites recently. One site has quit renting Globalstar phones completely and another has a warning that Globalstar is only 30% reliable. According to Globalstar's own website, this only affects voice service, and not SPOT because the two operate on different systems. Is this an accurate statement as far as you know? Just wondering.

9:08 p.m. on May 10, 2009 (EDT)
TOP 10 REVIEWER REVIEW CORPS
2,329 reviewer rep
5,252 forum posts

I do not know how they calculate the reliability number. However, my experience with Globalstar phone in the published coverage zone is much higher than 30%. It is annoying when a call gets dropped and you can't get a reconnection for 20 minutes or so, But my limited experience was that you almost always got reconnected within 20 minutes.

As for SPOT, SPOT uses the Globalstar digital messaging system, which places a much lower demand on the system. The digital system uses the same satellites and relay stations as does voice. But the required bandwidth and power are much smaller than for voice. My experience (yes, I know, this is only "anecdotal" experience, not the result of carefully designed experiments, checks with repeatability, and published in a refereed journal like the "Backpacker's Digital Comm Journal") is that SPOT is pretty reliable in getting data through within 20 minutes as long as you are in an area with a fairly clear view of the sky. SPOT and Globalstar voice are "two different systems" in terms of one using the voice transponders and greater bandwidth, while the other uses the data transponders with packet-like technology and narrower bandwidth.

If you want, I can put you on my list of "Friends", er, wrong term from a system I avoid, I mean "my Team", and have "OK" and "HELP" messages sent to you. This would allow you to see my start and end hike messages plus a few that I send during hikes. There is also a way to send you the track positions, but I find that a nuisance to set up. I already have your email address, which is all I need. However, I am pretty much too busy with the house rebuild to set up a regular hiking and tracking schedule, so you couldn't easily do the numbers yourself. I bet Dave would be just as happy if I dropped him from my "Team", but he ignores my "OK" messages anymore.

10:02 p.m. on May 10, 2009 (EDT)
12 reviewer rep
613 forum posts

My experience (yes, I know, this is only "anecdotal" experience, not the result of carefully designed experiments, checks with repeatability, and published in a refereed journal like the "Backpacker's Digital Comm Journal")

Fie on you, Bill, for even suggesting that actual longterm professional EXPERIENCE might be considered a valid source of practical skills concerning wilderness situations.

As a SCIENTIST, and, IIRC, you actually ARE a geniune one, you should KNOW that "scientism" trumps any "hands-on" experience, no matter how carefully one presents the conclusions gained from decades of it...........

I hafta chuckle, you are a BAD ol' geezer, kinda like me!!! ;)

5:56 a.m. on May 11, 2009 (EDT)
141 reviewer rep
218 forum posts

Although I cant say for sure about the SPOT, I see what Bill means by the digital messaging working even when voice doesnt. When we have hurricanes here, the text messaging feature of your cell phone will usually work even when the voice portion doesnt. After hurricane Katrina, text messaging was our only means of communication for the first 2 to 3 weeks after the hurricane. Voice service was out for that period of time.

I carry my SPOT on every trip now, but only rely on the message getting out when I can stop for 20 minutes. The tracking feature simply is unrelyable for me because of tree coverage.

8:26 p.m. on May 11, 2009 (EDT)
MODERATOR
38 reviewer rep
1,757 forum posts

Thanks Bill, but focusing on the house for now seems a better use of your time.

The reason I asked is that on TLB, someone asked about SPOT and I mentioned the voice problems with Globalstar, which set off someone who thought I was being unhelpful, to say the least.

I'm always a bit suspicious of companies who say "Yes, we know we have a problem, but we're fixing it, so don't worry about it."

5:08 a.m. on May 12, 2009 (EDT)
12 reviewer rep
613 forum posts

Tom, please post a link to the TLB comments.

12:46 p.m. on May 12, 2009 (EDT)
TOP 10 REVIEWER REVIEW CORPS
2,329 reviewer rep
5,252 forum posts

Sigh ... I may have to break down and register for TLB. But do I need yet another website to look at?

In SPOT's case, having spent a bit of time talking to their chief engineer (not just the sales guy), in this case I would say they are really trying to improve the usefulness of the unit. As for Globalstar (and Iridium, for that matter), the big problem is the financial one. They overestimated the market for satphones plus underestimated the costs, and ended up going bankrupt. Iridium (which I did a tiny bit of work on before I retired from Lockheed) had a similar problem, but has been kept going because of government contracts. The marine satcom services got established much earlier, plus their customers generally have bigger pockets (the cost of the com systems are a tiny expense compared to just the fuel load of a container ship for one trip, and the yachting crowd is generally in the higher net worth end of the spectrum). My impression (not being in the marketing end of things) was that the Globalstar and Iridium folks thought they could siphon off a significant part of the marine market, plus add the land-based crowd, plus they didn't realize that cellphones would become so easy to install in 3rd-World countries (some of the African and Asian countries have more cell towers and cell phones in people's hands per capita and per square mile than the US or EU). Why buy a satphone at a high price for the unit plus high per-minute charge when you can get a cheap cell phone at a couple cents per minute and have no dropouts? Which leaves a small number of eco-tourists as the only customers. Sometimes I have the impression that there are more Iridium plus Globalstar satellites orbiting than there are active users of the phones - a bit of exageration, but it isn't like there are millions of satphone users.

Globalstar has gotten financing and has done some adding and replacing of satellites, plus they have added more ground stations (Globalstar is a bent-pipe system, unlike Iridium which is more like a cell phone system that relays the signals sat-to-sat).

But, the digital system used by SPOT is much more dependable than the voice system, even though they use the same Globalstar satellites and ground stations. That's just the nature of the bandwidth and power requirements. Same is true of Iridium's digital and voice systems. And it's the same reason why lots of ham radio operators still use morse code - it can get through in many situations when voice and the "modern" digital systems can't.

8:30 p.m. on May 12, 2009 (EDT)
MODERATOR
38 reviewer rep
1,757 forum posts

Here, and no Bill, you don't really need to join. It's mostly gear weenie stuff about shaving an oz or two off your base weight.

http://tinyurl.com/rxubby

9:01 p.m. on May 12, 2009 (EDT)
37 reviewer rep
747 forum posts

Bill S

No No Bill, don't look at TLB, you won't like it - uh uh. NOPE...

Dewey

quote" As a SCIENTIST, and, IIRC, you actually ARE a geniune one, you should KNOW that "scientism" trumps any "hands-on" experience, no matter how carefully one presents the conclusions gained from decades of it..........." end quote

________________________________________________________

Dewey "scientism" ignores chaos. scientism "proved" that a bublebee cannot fly. Observation of a real event is a far far more powerful tool than calculation and extrapolation.

So in my opinion, nothing trumps observed reality - so what I'm saying is this - someone seeing a UFO doing something "impossible" means that whom ever limited the envelope of possible was basing things on past observations, like Newtons.

As a retired antenna engineer I can tell you that you cannot predict the performance or beam shape of an antenna with dimensions less than 1/10th wavelength by using any known software or math. You have to build it and measure it.

Tom D

Get with Bill s and the two of you come up here to Bend this summer/Fall and we'll go into three sisters wilderness - the trailhead is about 25 miles from here.

Jim S

9:50 p.m. on May 12, 2009 (EDT)
12 reviewer rep
613 forum posts

JimS, after more than five decades spent in the densely populated Grizzly and Black Bear habitat of northern and western Canada, including teaching bear "safety" as a part of my job(s), THAT is EXACTLY what I was trying to convey.

July 28, 2014
Quick Reply

Please sign in to reply

 
More Topics
This forum: Older: Keeping your batteries charged Newer: a tent opinion question...
All forums: Older: Wanted: Trailwise 3/4 length frame pack size medium Newer: Coffee or tea?