Fault with IsatPhone Pro firmware

We have just received this service bulletin from Inmarsat about a firmware fault in the recent production batches of IsatPhone Pro satellite phones. Please check your phone’s IMEI number and make sure you follow the instructions in the message below:

Fault with IsatPhone Pro firmware

Please be advised that a fault has been identified with IsatPhone Pro firmware versions 5.1.0 and 5.2.0 (the latest) that affects handsets manufactured since 7 September 2012.

The fault causes the battery on these phones not to charge while the handset is switched off. If the battery is allowed to run flat, then it becomes impossible to charge the phone unless a new, pre-charged battery is fitted. A new version of the firmware which will resolve this problem is expected to available for release by 8 February 2013.

Only a small number of IsatPhone Pro units are affected by the fault. They are those handsets shipped since 7 September 2012 with IMEI numbers above 353032041133824 (operating with firmware versions 5.1.0 or 5.2.0). Handsets manufactured before 7 September 2012 will recharge as normal, switched on or off, with all firmware versions, including 5.1.0 or 5.2.0.  No action is required for users of these handsets.

You can check a handset’s IMEI number in three ways:

  • Printed on the label on the original presentation box
  • Printed on the label inside the battery compartment
  • Through the phone menu (under Settings > About).

Users with an affected handset are advised to follow these simple guidelines:

  • Keep the phone switched on during charging
  • Maintain a full to half-charge until their IsatPhone Pro has been upgraded with the new firmware.

All IsatPhone Pro users are requested to upgrade to the new version of firmware when it becomes available on 8 February 2013. Version 5.2.0 has been withdrawn in the meantime.

Inmarsat apologises to customers for any inconvenience. We will send a further communication to advise on upgrading once the new firmware is available.

Inmarsat FleetBroadband vs Iridium OpenPort

FleetBroadand 150 vs Iridium OpenPort

Panbo – The Marine Electronics Blog has an excellent post comparing Inmarsat FleetBroadband and Iridium OpenPort equipment and services in real time boating conditions. These two mobile satellite solutions, offering high-speed Internet and voice services, are relatively new on the marine market that makes this review even more valuable. Panbo’s authors has been using both systems on one boat sailing from Northeast US to New Zealand and provided detailed accounts on speed of data transfer, voice quality, service up-time, power usage and use of data compression software.

With the price tag of around $5,000 (installation and airtime not included), both FleetBroadband (150-series) and OpenPort can be an affordable but robust option to satisfy communication requirements and tighter budgets of smaller leisure boats and fishing operators.


A new name in the satphone business?

Well, not so new… at least for the satellite industry. For the first time in its history, Inmarsat plc, a UK-based global satellite operator, announced its plans to offer a handheld satellite phone and voice calls in early 2007. For almost 30 years of its history, Inmarsat has been known mostly for its marine-based and high-speed data solutions.

In partnership with ACeS Ltd., an Asian regional mobile satellite operator, Inmarsat will offer an Ericsson-made handheld satellite phone (based on ACeS R190) and voice calls at rates from 25 cents to $1 per minute. The new system will use three new Inmarsat GEO satellites and, possibly, the older ACeS Garuda 1 satellite.

This move puts Inmarsat in direct competition with other two major players: Thuraya and Iridium and will likely result in lower prices for equipment and voice calls, which even now  rarely exceed $1 per minute.

The new venture is the next step in Inmarsat’s mobile line of products. In late 2005, the company introduced the BGAN service, featuring laptop-sized satellite modems and data transfers of up to 492 Kbps. Inmarsat is keen to use ACeS established distribution channels to market the BGAN products on the Asian markets.

As Gulfnews.com reports, the satellite phone market is a $350 million business with 600,000 subscribers.