Globalstar is a good choice for customers in much of the lower 48 US states and its nearby coastal waters, as long as they are operating in the orange Primary Globalstar Service Area.
The Globalstar GSP-1700 is much smaller than competing Iridium 9575 EXTREME phone or Inmarsat IsatPhone 2 satellite phones. Also, Globalstar includes a US phone number and generally have lower rates.
Globalstar offers a variety of low-cost bundled minute plans. 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 minutes 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 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. The new 24-satellite system has reduced performance compared to the original (nominal) 48-satellite system, but additional upgrades to the Globalstar gateways are underway to further improve the performance of the network.