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How To Send Free SMS to A Satellite Phone With the Satway App

How To Send Free SMS to A Satellite Phone With the Satway App

Satway AppWe recently tried out the Satway app (for iOS and Android) to send free SMS messages to satellite phones.

As we detailed recently, it’s very easy to send free SMS messages to satellite phones, but what Satway does do is bring all the different messaging platforms into one app, to make it easy to send messages to the different satellite phone carriers (Inmarsat, Iridium, and Thuraya, in this case).

While this is a nice feature for, say, a satellite phone company that routinely communicates with users on all the different carriers, for individual users who only need to communicate with one satellite phone user, the app’s functionality may be a bit of overkill.

Pros of Using The Satway App

It’s very quick to fire up this app and immediately send a SMS. The interface, while not beautiful, is bare-bones in a spare, functional way without being disarmingly technical, and it’s easy to figure out what to do without spending too much time thinking about it.

The app itself doesn’t take up a lot of space on your phone or tablet, and it fires up very quickly.

A small note: the “successful send” chime on the app doesn’t seem to adhere to your phone defaults. When testing on an Android smartphone with the present on vibrate, I was surprised (as was the rest of the office) when the app loudly chimed to let me know my message was sent.

Maybe the biggest pro? The app is free.

Cons of Using the Satway App

Sending SMS on Iridium Satellite PhoneWhen you send an SMS to a satellite phone using the Satway app (or using one of the web-forms on the carriers’ websites), the return address is your email address. Depending on the length of your email address, this can bite into your 160 character limit pretty significantly. It also means that you don’t have a chain of communication to follow, like you would with a typical SMS conversation.

IE: when the satellite phone user responds to you, their response goes to your email address, not the Satway app. So you will need to check your email to see if they’ve responded.

There isn’t a great way around this, regardless of whether your using the Satway app or a webform, but it’s something to keep in mind if you’re expecting a neat SMS conversation like we’re used to having on our cellphones.

Note: According to the Satway FAQ in the app, you are limited to a set limit of SMS messages (150 per month per carrier, with more precise limits on daily limits to the individual carriers). These limits probably also apply to the webforms for the carriers, as well. (Not verified).

Conclusion for Users Send to SMS Messages to Satellite Phones

Satway is a nice app to have in your arsenal, especially if you’re a smartphone/tablet user and don’t like the extra time it takes to bring up a web browser.

For those on computers or laptops, using one of the carriers’ webforms or sending an email might be a better option.

Conclusions for Satellite Phone Users On SMS Usage

Receiving a SMS message on an Iridium Satellite PhoneSo receiving SMS messages is easy enough – they’ll pop up on your satellite phone as soon as you have reception. Returning an SMS message is trickier. Remember cellphones in the pre-smartphone age? That’s what texting is like on a satellite phone.

Here was a rundown of how replying to an SMS via satellite worked for us:

  • SMS received, easy peasy.
  • Wrote out reply. Extremely laborious.
  • Hit send.
  • SMS failed because of lack of sufficient signal.
  • Had to walk around field in order to improve satellite reception level.
  • Once had better reception level, had to navigate to outbox to find failed SMS message.
  • Had to re-enter phone number to send it to, because that info wasn’t saved.
  • Hit send again.
  • Send was successful this time around.

Here is a rundown of how emailing someone over satellite works:

  • Write email on smartphone, tablet, or laptop. Address it to as many recipients as you want.
  • Hit “Send” in XGate.
  • Let’s say you lose reception halfway through. Hit “Send” again in XGate. XGate will continue sending where it left off. (You can also set XGate to automatically dial out again if it loses connection with the satellites).
  • Send is successful.

With email, you are not limited to 160 characters, you can send to more than 1 person at a time, you aren’t stuck using a numeric keypad for entering in letters, and you don’t have such a headache with the reception issues.

So in most cases we would recommend that satellite users use email instead of SMS, but most satellite phones do support SMS, so it’s there as an option if you need it.


Further Reading

Not sure which satellite phone or system is right for you? We want to help you understand the complicated world of satellite equipment so that you can make the best choice for your needs. You can see all our free guides at our Learning Center. Here is one of most popular free guides:




Free Satellite Phone Guide





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