Mobile Communications

Mobile communications provide a user with two-way voice or data communications services by using some form of portable wireless technology.  Typically, providers of satellite mobile communications use Geostationary Orbit (GEO), Medium Earth Orbit (MEO) satellites or Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites to relay signals up from a handset or terminal and back down to a ground station where the signal interfaces with the public telephone system or the internet. 

Advantages of Mobile Satellite Services

Because satellites operate in Earth orbit, mobile satellite providers have the unique ability to offer virtually ubiquitous coverage for mobile voice and data communications, especially for customers who operate in areas far beyond the coverage offered by terrestrial mobile networks.

Types of Satellite Mobile Communication Services

Mobile satellite communications and mobile satellite services (MSS) voice terminals or handsets can range in size from handheld to laptop-sized units and can be fully portable of mounted in vehicles for on the move communications.  Mobile satellite data devices can provide simple one-way or simplex tracking as well as two-way duplex data and broadband internet communications.

Satellite telephones can provide users with the ability to make and receive phone calls and text messages from virtually anywhere.  Satellite data modems provide users with connectivity, without having to rely on terrestrial mobile networks.  Satellite providers may also offer machine to machine (M2M) data for various applications including monitoring or tracking services.

Who Uses Mobile Satellite Communications

Enterprise or commercial users, military and defense personnel as well as individual consumers who frequently travel abroad or operate on land, sea or air in areas far from terrestrial or cellular coverage commonly use MSS systems.  Applications include:

  • Remote Industrial Businesses – because satellites can provide services to remote areas far from terrestrial coverage, remote commercial businesses such as forestry, mining, oil and gas companies as well as others utilize mobile satellite services for everything from voice communication, remote connectivity to the internet, tracking and automated monitoring and control of equipment and hardware.
  • Government and Defense Customers – because mobile satellite equipment can often operate in the remotest reaches of the planet and can be deployed quickly and easily, commercial satellite companies provide a host of mobile satellite solutions to U.S. Government customers such as the Department and Defense ranging from basic satellite voice and data solutions to tracking and high speed connectivity terminals.
  • Emergency Response – When disasters such as hurricanes and earthquakes strike, terrestrial communications infrastructure may be damaged or destroyed. Because of the ubiquitous nature of mobile satellite voice and data services, often times the only way for emergency and disaster recovery personnel to coordinate rescue and recovery efforts is via mobile satellite communications.
  • Recreational Consumers – For those recreational consumers who walk, ride and sail into areas far from terrestrial coverage, mobile satellite operators provide a variety of voice and data products that can track, locate and communicate with authorities should the unexpected arise.

For more information regarding mobile satellite communications, please see the Emergency and Disaster Response page or the Broadband Connectivity page.