Globalstar handheld satellite phones provide regional coverage for voice and 9.6 kbps data, especially in large parts of the U.S. and Canada. An easy-to-call U.S. mobile phone number with an area code in Texas, Florida, or Alaska is included with every Globalstar subscription.
The Globalstar Primary Coverage Area is indicated by the orange colored regions. Though some coverage exists in the yellow and gray areas of the map, Outfitter Satellite recommends Globalstar for users operating strictly inside a Primary Coverage Areas.
The Globalstar Home Zone is the region inside the red line. Globalstar offers a variety of low-cost bundled minute packages. The bundled minutes apply to calls terminating in the USA, Puerto Rico, or Canada while the Globalstar phone is inside the Home Zone using gateways inside the Home Zone. The bundle packages also apply to calls received on the Globalstar phone while it is inside the Home Zone using gateways inside the Home Zone. See our service agreement for complete details.
Calls made from outside the Home Zone (or made using gateways outside the Home Zone) are considered roaming calls and roaming charges apply. Roaming is currently not available in the areas inside the light blue line (Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Paraguay, Bolivia, Peru, and Ecuador and the surrounding oceans). Globalstar is working towards resolving this issue. There also are technical issues impacting connectivity and service levels inside the region indicated by the light green line.
Globalstar service is a satellite radio technology subject to transmission limitations caused by type of terrain, service area limits, customer equipment use and other variable conditions including the functionality and orbital locations of the satellites themselves.
Globalstar began commercial service in late 1999. It was originally designed to use 48 Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites orbiting 878 miles above the earth in concert with a network of gateway stations. If a Globalstar satellite can simultaneously connect to your Globalstar satellite phone and one of these Globalstar gateways, your call can be routed. This is called "bent pipe" signal routing, and it is designed to provide high sound quality with limited call drops. An ingenious aspect of the Globalstar design was its use of multiple path diversity. If multiple satellites can communicate with your Globalstar satellite phone, the call is automatically switched to route over the satellite with the strongest signal. This is intended to reduce the likelihood of call drops.
In 2007, Globalstar experienced technical problems with the S-band amplifiers in its satellites and this dramatically reduced its ability to provide two-way voice and data services. Over $1 billion was invested in developing a second generation of satellites. By early 2013, Globalstar had successfully launched 24 new second generation satellites which combined with the 8 first generation satellites launched in 2007 to make a total current constellation of 32 satellites. Additional upgrades to the Globalstar gateways are underway to further improve the performance of the network.