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.
- 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.