Gone are the days when everyone used the same cell phone – today, there are several options, including satellite phones. But are these phones only for government and military personnel, or can civilians buy satellite phones, too?

What is a Satellite Phone?

Satellite phones are a type of ‘mobile’ phone that provide phone coverage in most places around the world. That’s because satellite phones make use of their own network of satellites, rather than relying on ‘ground-based’ tower cell phone networks. This makes them great for travelers, journalists, and other people who might find themselves needing to communicate from remote places.

Can Civilians Buy a Satellite Phone?

Yes! Satellite phones are available to civilians and can be bought from many different retailers, both in-store and online. They’re not cheap, however – typically costing upwards of $1200 – but if you’re travelling or working in an area where normal cell phones don’t work, they can be invaluable.

What Makes Satellite Phones Different?

The main difference between a normal cell phone and a satellite phone is the way they communicate – as we said previously, satellite phones communicate with a network of their own satellites, whereas normal cell phones communicate with ground-based cell towers.

Satellite phones also tend to be more rugged and durable – able to withstand more extreme climates and temperatures. That makes them great for people who might be doing extreme outdoors activities, like camping, sailing, or even mountaineering.

What Should I Consider When Buying a Satellite Phone?

When buying a satellite phone, the two main things you’ll want to consider are coverage and cost. Different satellite phone networks will have different coverage areas, so you’ll want to make sure that the network you’re buying is compatible with the areas you’ll be visiting.

You’ll also want to consider cost – as we said before, satellite phones are usually quite expensive, and you don’t want to get stuck with a contract that you can’t really afford. There are some companies that offer no-contract plans, though, so make sure to shop around and look for the best deal.

Can individuals buy a satellite phone?

Yes, individuals can purchase and use a satellite phone. Prices vary widely depending on the make and model, but a basic satellite phone can cost between $500 and $1,500. A satellite phone plan typically costs between $30 and $150 per month, depending on the amount of data and minutes purchased.

Can individuals buy satellite phones in stores?

Yes, satellite phones can be purchased in some electronics stores, marine supply stores, and online. However, most satellite phones require activation from an authorized service provider before they can be used.

The Bottom Line

Yes, civilians can buy satellite phones, and in some cases they’re a great option for people who may find themselves travelling or working in remote areas. Be sure to shop around for coverage and cost before making a purchase, and you’ll be sure to find the perfect satellite phone for you.


Q: Can civilians buy satellite phones?

A: Yes, civilians can purchase satellite phones either directly from a satellite phone service provider or from an authorized retailer.

Q: Is a satellite phone more expensive than cell phones?

A: Yes, satellite phones are typically more expensive than cell phones.

Q: Are satellite phones only available to government agencies?

A: No, satellite phones are available to all individuals and organizations, including civilians, government agencies, businesses and non-profit organizations.

Q: What type of network is used by a satellite phone?

A: A satellite phone network uses a cellular network of geosynchronous satellites. Geosynchronous satellites are in an orbit around the Earth at a fixed point 24 hours a day, allowing for continual and reliable connections.

Q: What range of coverage does a satellite phone provide?

A: A satellite phone provides coverage over an area that is much larger than typical cell phone networks, often providing global coverage. The actual coverage range of a satellite phone can vary depending on the technology and the provider, but in general, satellite phones can typically offer coverage over a much wider area than a traditional cellular device.

Q: Is it possible to track a satellite phone call?

A: Yes, it is possible to track a satellite phone call. Satellite phone companies provide various services, such as GPS tracking, which enable users to track a satellite phone call using their satellite phone’s location information. However, users of satellite phones should be aware of the privacy implications of using such services, as they may be subject to monitoring by third parties.