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April 21, 2015

Iridium Pilot Satellite Airtime Budget for Cruising

One of the questions we often get asked is what Iridium Pilot airtime plan is best for low-usage cruising? 

Because Iridium Pilot has an incredible array of airtime options available, it's often difficult to determine what plan would work best for basic cruising needs, including:

  • Downloading GRIB files
  • Sending and receiving textual emails
  • Making satellite phone calls

A customer of ours recently asked what a rough estimate would be for 2 GRIB files a day, around 4 to 5 textual emails, and 5 minutes of voice calls per day. With that kind of usage in mind (and if you are doing "low data usage" on a Pilot, this will apply to you, too) here are three options that would work well and not bust the bank.

(Note: if you're thinking, well why not just get an inexpensive handheld satellite phone? Keep in mind that the Pilot offers immense savings for ongoing use. The same usage we have here to calculate costs with Iridium Pilot airtime would cost around $420 per month with a handheld satellite phone)

Iridium Pilot Cruising Airtime Budget

Iridium Pilot Value PlansValue Plan at 32kbps
GRIB file costs about $0.05 cents each
Batch of textual emails costs about $0.25 cents (possibly less)
Using Prepaid GoChat Cards for Voice: $0.62 per minute
Monthly Cost: $39 access fee plus around $100 for data and voice
Total: Approximately $139 per month

Pros: The cheapest base-price and you don't pay for data you may not use. 
Cons: Emergency web-browsing at $12.42 per MB would be very painful for your airtime bill. 

Iridium Pilot 10MB Airtime Plan10MB Custom Bundle Plan at 32kbps
There is 10 MB of data with this plan and no voice
All of the estimated GRIB and email usage will easily fit within 10 MB per month
Using Prepaid GoChat Cards for Voice: $0.62 per minute
Monthly Cost: $99.36 access fee (with 10MB included) plus around $93 for voice 
Total: Approximately $192.36 per month

Pros: More breathing room with the data allotment. 
Cons: Overage data is still very expensive ($10.25 per MB), but less likely to happen as you have those 10 MB to use per month

Iridium Pilot Combo Plan BCombo Plan B at 128 kbps
This plan provides you a monthly allowance to be used for either voice or data. If it were to be used exclusively for data you would have 12MB. If you were to use it exclusively for voice you would have 200 minutes. Voice is deducted at $0.62 per minute and data is deducted at $10.12 per MB.
Total: $121.44 per month

Pros: This plan works best for Iridium Pilot low-usage needs and offers the best overage fees if you happen to go over your allotment for the month. Because this plan only operates at 128kbps you also get the fastest speeds without paying more. 
Cons: Highest monthly commitment of the three options.

Iridium Pilot: Affordable Marine Satellite Broadband

Free Guide to Marine Satellite InternetOn the fence with the Iridium Pilot? Check out our free guide to Affordable Marine Satellite Broadband. This guide looks at the different options for marine satellite Internet with a particular focus on the Iridium Pilot as the most cost-effective solution for cruisers. 

You can get the free guide to marine satellite broadband here

Need Advice on Satellite Communications?

We're here to help with your satellite communication needs. Request a free satellite communications consultation today to get a custom recommendation for satcomms just for you. 

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