Satellite Phones Are Finally Here

Satellite Phones Are Finally Here

Satellite Phones Are Finally Here

The day you' ve dreamed of (or perhaps dreaded) is here—you can now be reached anywhere. Iridium (888/331-1350), a consortium of telecom firms (including Motorola, Lockheed, and Sprint), has been launching low-orbit satellites for a while; there are now 66, enough to cover the planet. The satellite phone comes in two versions: the one made by Kyocera (right) is a cellular model that converts, with an attachment, into a one-pound satellite phone; Motorola makes an all-in-one phone that' s about the same size. As long as you are in reach of any of the world' s cellular systems, your calls travel from tower to tower, but if you venture somewhere more remote, Iridium' s satellites will handle your signal. Ubiquity doesn' t come cheap: the phones run about $3,000, and airtime costs about 25 percent more than international rates. Other companies will introduce similar service soon; the competition should eventually bring prices down.

—Jim Lewis

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