Satellite communications in Nepal

For some friends’ efforts to help people in earthquake-affected areas in Nepal, we need recommendations for satellite communication equipment. Here’s a wiki to collect it. Welcome to contribute by comment or editing (you just need to register for a free account on this platform before).


  • Has to be available immediately in Europe (for rent or sale), to bring it to Nepal.
  • Has to be possible to set up immediately.
  • Agreeable, not too hefty costs, because this is about volunteer missions.

Recommendations: The principal networks are Globalstar, Immarsat, Iridium, and Thuraya [source]. See a comparison of them in the Nepali Times. By recommendability as per own valuation:

  • Thuraya. Coverage includes all of Nepal, from the southwest (so, mountains should not be too bad of a problem even though it is all through one satellite, Thuraya-2). Prices are the lowest of satcomm networks; if between Thuraya units, it's comparable to mobile phone costs. Reliability is very workable (Matt has recommended it to a friend in rural Ethiopia, she likes it a lot; and Sunoj just confirmed they are good to use in Nepal, he has done so for a company he was working with). Used handsets are available at times from eBay etc., but that is of course not as fast as getting a new one from a shop.
  • Inmarsat. The coverage includes all of Nepal [source]. Geostationary satellite from southern direction. Reasonable prices. More information. Note that Inmarsat terminals are not just a handset (unlike Thuraya phones) but come with a station to be put on the ground or a vehicle.
  • Iridium. Complete global coverage, even the poles [source]. Price for usage and hardware is however very high in comparison.
  • Globalstar. No coverage of Nepal [source]!

Purchasing sources: Thuraya phones are normally available in Kathmandu, but current availability is not confirmed so far. When coming to Nepal and you want to bring in a satellite phone (e.g. by picking it up at a departure or connection airport’s city), here are some options:

  • General. See the Thuraya Where to Buy guide for a global list of their dealers.
  • Bucharest. Check this service shop, which is Thuraya's official service provider in Romania with a head office in Bucharest, "distributing and marketing Thuraya’s mobile satellite services and products throughout the country" [source]. Phone: +40 21 2120569.
  • Dubai. There is a Dubai-based Thuraya dealer called Constellation, so they should be easily available there. Europeans get a free visa on arrival, and Dubai International Airport (DXB) is a great connection airport when travelling to Kathmandu anyway because flydubai planes go from there to Kathmandu (KTM) four times a day at low rates (ca. 150 EUR). So you could arrange for 12 - 24 hours layover in Dubai and pick up a Thuraya phone there. According to the Thuraya Where to Buy guide, there are 11 Thuraya dealers in Dubai.
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Not what you asked for but perhaps useful contact…

This is what I got back from a nudge to someone in a -lu hackerspace,  he works next door to a satellite place and told me about these fellows here: - who seem to have even more contacts to there. Perhaps they could give you the right pointers to get a reduced tariff option :)? If I understand correctly they are currently 50 km north-east of Kathmandu and they have a fourth member arriving on May 16th. Maybe an option to catch him for a few minutes at the airport and perhaps give him some pointers to get him going to his buddies in Chautara…