OCENS Press Release: NEW OCENS OneMessage provides Private and Personal Messaging through Satellite

NEWS – For Immediate Release

OCENS Inc., Seattle WA
Media Contacts: Jeff Thomassen, 206.878.8270, jeff@ocens.com

NEW OCENS OneMessage provides Private and Personal Messaging through Satellite

OneMessage available now for iOS and Android smartphones & tablets

SEATTLE, WA February 8, 2016 – OCENS today announces the release of its OneMessage personal messaging service for satellite users. OneMessage is the first satellite messaging app which allows private, real-­‐person to real-­‐person communication through texting. Furthermore, OneMessage brings state-­‐of-­‐the-­‐art messaging to the satellite user without the heavy overhead of the popular network-­‐based messaging services.

Imagine texting family news to your daughter away at college without knowing whether she’ll receive it or simply the first person who happens to be on the dorm wifi when that message arrives. Or receiving a text from somebody without any means to really know who that somebody is. In today’s world of satellite messaging, no imagination is necessary. These issues are reality. But OneMessage changes all this by evolving satellite messaging to allow individuals to send and receive texts to other individuals firm in the knowledge that those friends or family and only those friends or family will receive the message. OneMessage also allows you to communicate with your OneMessage friends using satellite phones without the need costly international texting plans or rates.

From the perspective of the remote satellite user, received messages to a shared satellite device are received and read only by you in your OneMessage app. You immediately know who messaged you and can safely and securely reply just to them. Unlike other satellite messaging apps which can send only one message at a time, OneMessage supports multiple threads with each individual thread held in the app until you are ready to reach out and tap into your satellite device. Threads are then compressed together and snapped through your satellite connection before being parsed by the OneMessage servers off to their respective destinations. On devices like the Iridium GO! all this takes place using OneMessage without you having to even log into the device. A tiny amount of satellite bandwidth is occupied by OneMessage to process your threads.

“We wanted to create an experience bringing the satellite ‘messager’ as close to the messaging expectations of their connected life at home or work as possible,” stated Development Lead Scott Johnson. “OneMessage wraps the realities of the satellite world into a package personalizing the messaging relationship between its users.”

OneMessage is compatible with the Iridium GO!, other Iridium and Inmarsat handheld phones and docks as well as MSAT terminals through the OCENS Sidekick satellite wifi router, and makes two-­‐way messaging finally possible through the Globalstar network. It, of course, works with a wide range of satellite broadband services. OneMessage can send and receive through these phones to other OneMessage users or to any cellular telephone number. It can also function in a network environment without any of those devices present. Users on network connections receive push notifications of received messages.

The free app is activated along with a low monthly service fee affording an unlimited number of messages (applicable satellite message fees apply separately). The app includes a handy shortcut allowing you to quickly invite friends and family to connect to you in your satellite world with OneMessage.

About OCENS, Inc. OCENS data services, software and apps merge easy-­‐to-­‐use applications with unprecedented content offerings to affordably deliver data over satellite phones to remote users around the world. OCENS weather, ocean and fishing services provide access to the largest collection of GRIB and classical data that can be found anywhere. Using patented pull-­‐me technology, OCENS WeatherNet provides fast access to the world’s widest selection of weather and ocean information over PC and Mac platforms. GRIB Explorer processes highly compressed GRIB information into unique decision products for use on PC, Mac or iPad platforms. MetMapper transforms static weather charts and satellite imagery into dynamic planning tools. OCENS’ iPhone, Android, Windows phone and Blackberry apps provide weather and messaging services to the smartphone community. Its SpotCast weather service provides multi-­‐day, multi-­‐point forecasts of weather and ocean conditions for any point on earth in a highly compact form. OneMail provides clean and quick access to your Gmail account through satellite connections. OCENS augments its software core with satellite equipment, satellite accessories such as the Sidekick satellite wifi router, and airtime solutions it provides in cooperation with all the major satellite providers.

NEW Sidekick Satellite Wifi Router Now Available from OCENS

NEWS – For Immediate Release

OCENS Inc., Seattle WA

Media Contacts:  Jeff Thomassen, 206.878.8270, jeff@ocens.com

NEW Sidekick Satellite Wifi Router Now Available from OCENS

Sidekick and Sidekick Pro extend access of legacy satellite phones to mobile devices

SEATTLE, WA January 26, 2016 – OCENS today announces the availability of the Sidekick Satellite Wifi Routers. Sidekick connects all of your wifi-­‐enabled smartphones, tablets, and computers to your satellite telephone for weather, email, messaging and more.

For most of their history, wifi-­‐enabled satellite phones have been few and far between. Connections were unavailable to smartphones and tablets and those to PC and Macs were made with an all too often cumbersome process of serial and USB cabling and driver install. Meanwhile, our world was moving in an entirely different direction. Smartphones and tablets were proliferating. Each one of those iOS, Android and Windows devices shipped with built-­‐in wifi capabilities to link their onboard apps with the internet for email, weather, messaging, gaming, and a host of other services. None of them offered any form of USB or serial connectivity.

The Sidekick now connects these two worlds by broadcasting a local wifi signal to connect it to your tablets, smartphones and other wifi-­‐enabled devices. In the direction of your satellite phone, the Sidekick comes equipped with USB and Ethernet ports to allow you to hook it to that satellite phone with a simple plug-­‐in. In effect, you’ve transformed your wifi-­‐less satellite phone into a wifi-­‐enabled unit now able to communicate with any of your tablets and smartphones.

All OCENS software is designed to communicate with the Sidekick. After auto-­‐dialing through the satellite phone, OCENS software connects to the Iridium, Inmarsat, Globalstar or MSAT satellite networks and processes your email, weather request, position report, text message or web browser connect. Press the ‘Connect’ button in the OCENS’ OneMail app on your iPhone, for example, and OneMail will auto-­‐dial through the Sidekick to your satellite phone, connect to the satellite network, retrieve your Gmail to the OneMail app and then  auto-­‐disconnect.

A basic and Pro version of the Sidekick are available. The Pro offers Power-­‐over-­‐Ethernet (POE) capabilities and adds an external antenna for extended range. Pricing starts at $99.

Sidekick is compatible with the following satellite devices:

Iridium: 9505, 9505a, 9555 and 9575 and Iridium OpenPort

Inmarsat: IsatPhone 2, Fleet Broadband, FleetOne.

Globalstar: 1600, 1700

MSAT: Westinghouse and Mitsubishi

About OCENS, Inc. OCENS data services, software and apps merge easy-­‐to-­‐use applications with unprecedented content offerings to affordably deliver data over satellite phones to remote users around the world. OCENS weather, ocean and         fishing services provide access to the largest collection of GRIB and classical data that can be found anywhere. Using patented pull-­‐me technology, OCENS WeatherNet provides fast access to the world’s widest selection of weather and ocean information over PC and Mac platforms. GRIB Explorer processes highly compressed GRIB information into unique decision products for use on PC, Mac or iPad platforms. MetMapper transforms static weather charts and satellite imagery into dynamic planning tools. OCENS’ iPhone, Android, Windows phone and Blackberry apps provide weather and messaging services to the smartphone community. Its SpotCast weather service provides multi-­‐day, multi-­‐point forecasts of weather and ocean conditions for any point on earth in a highly compact form. OneMail provides clean and quick access to your Gmail account through satellite connections. OCENS augments its software core with satellite equipment, satellite accessories such as the Sidekick satellite wifi router, and airtime solutions it provides in cooperation with all the major satellite providers.

Satellite Communications: Getting it Installed on your Boat

As you accumulate all of the necessary supplies for your next and ongoing voyages, you have undoubtedly already acquired or are planning to invest in a satellite communications package. The following are the critical points to consider when selecting equipment and preparing it for the installation.

Line of sight. This is the most important concept to understand with satellite communications. All satellite communications networks have at least one common fundamental: the satellite phone has to have a direct line of sight with the satellites. The satellite RF signal will not travel through dense objects (such as a bulkhead, ceiling, wall, etc.), so this means that to use your satellite phone, you must either be outside or have a remotely located external antenna in place. The former is pretty self-explanatory, so I will address the latter by outlining the necessary components for this type of installation.

  • External Antenna. Using your satellite phone inside while maintaining line of sight with the satellites is as simple as installing an externally mounted antenna. Both Iridium and Globalstar have orbiting satellite constellations, so the antenna should be positioned in a location that will offer it the most panoramic exposure to the sky. The antennas are passive, so they have no moving parts, rather, they are designed to cover a broad look angle in all directions for maximum satellite visibility. Antenna height is not important in and of itself unless it is for the purpose of getting it above a potential obstacle, such as a bulkhead. Also, you generally want to keep the antenna at least two meters away from any other RF antennas, particularly radar. A satellite antenna can me mounted on the mast, however, a rail mount is also very common. Most marine antennas have a standard 1” diameter female pipe thread, and there are many different 1” adapters to choose from at your local marine supply store. Marine rated satellite antennas are hermetically sealed and designed to be continuously exposed to salt-fog, moisture, and UV. The only point of moisture entry is the cable connector, so it is recommended to use a marine rated dressing on the connector followed by a good tape job.
  • Antenna cable. For an external antenna to work, you must run the correct type of antenna cable from the antenna to the phone or docking station. With Iridium, it is typically a single cable run. The exception is in the case of a dual mode antenna and a 9575 model phone. A dual mode antenna has both Iridium and GPS elements built in, giving you both signals off of a single antenna. A dual mode antenna requires two cable runs—one for the Iridium signal and one for GPS. The GPS signal feeds GPS coordinates to the phone for the purpose of using the SOS and tracking features on the 9575. Globalstar always requires two cables traveling from the antenna to the phone’s docking station. The overall length of the cable determines the cable stock required in order to remain within the dB loss spec for the satellite signal. A qualified satellite equipment provider will supply you with the correct cable and connector combination for your system, so all you need to worry about is mapping out your cable run and then determining the necessary cable length. And keep in mind – the shorter the cable run the better!
  • Docking Station. In the case of Iridium, when using a remote antenna, you have the option of using the basic antenna adapter that comes with the phone, or the much preferred option of using a docking station. There are several docking station models available for Iridium phones, but they all commonly provide the four basic functions: a secure place to dock the phone, power supplied to the phone keeping it charged, antenna cable connection to the phone, and a data port interface. Depending on the docking station model, some may include additional features such as an RJ11 port, audio input/output, and Bluetooth. With Globalstar, there is one docking station model available and it comes as a package that includes the antenna and antenna cable. When ordering a Globalstar docking station kit, all you need to do is specify the marine antenna and desired cable length. Most docking stations require a 9-32VDC power source and are typically hardwired to your boat’s DC power supply. The overall advantage of a docking station, besides the inherent purpose of using it with an external antenna, is that you have a clean, streamlined, and durable installation, yet within seconds you can deploy your phone from the dock for general use off of the boat or in an emergency situation.
  • WiFi. A wireless data connection from the satellite phone to a computer, tablet, or smartphone can be achieved by adding a simple, but specialized wireless access point. The Sidekick, by OCENS, is specifically designed to interface with satellite phones. It is an optional item for use with computers, but necessary for smartphones and tablets. With a computer, besides being a wireless connection, it is largely beneficial because it eliminates the need for finicky USB drivers since the computer only has to make a standard WiFi network connection. The Sidekick is “plug-and-play” and compatible with all satellite phone models, so to install it, you simply connect it to the USB port on the phone or docking station. For power, the Sidekick requires a standard 5VDC USB power source via its micro USB port.

Installing an effective satellite communications system is not a daunting task once you understand the core components of the system and how they interact with each other. A “do-it-yourselfer” can confidently take on this job him or herself or at least understand the process before hiring a marine electrician to perform the installation. Take your cruising to the next level by leveraging the power of modern satellite communications networks.

About OCENS. OCENS has been providing satellite communications, weather, and email solutions to the marine and other industries for the past 20 years and has established a reputation of providing consistently high-quality support to all of its clients. Please contact OCENS with any questions or concerns related to satellite communications applications.

NEWS – For Immediate Release: OCENS announces the availability of its new OCENS Mail service for the PC and Mac

NEWS – For Immediate Release

OCENS Inc., Seattle WA

Media Contacts:  Jeff Thomassen, 206.878.8270, jeff@ocens.com

OCENS Mail from OCENS for PC and Mac

Mail service extends OCENS mail services across all platforms

SEATTLE, WA January 12, 2016 – OCENS today announces the availability of its OCENS Mail service for the PC and Mac.

OCENS Mail is mail with a singular purpose…to move your email as fast as possible. This speed and the key features of OCENS Mail are gleaned from more than a decade of listening to and building software and apps for satellite users…its superior design emphatically demonstrating that simplicity and performance can coexist with craftsmanship and personality. All backed by a company with an unrelenting and uncompromising commitment to supporting our customers.

The OCENS Mail program is using the latest versions of Thunderbird. But the integration is then personalized by OCENS to make the interface even sleeker and more simple to use. Any of our customers who want to use Outlook, their own version of Thunderbird or almost any other client for that matter can readily do so.

On the back-­‐end, the server infrastructure supporting the new mail is state-­‐of-­‐the-­‐art. Features such as MegaMail for large file shunting, high-­‐level mail compression, mid-­‐file restart and webmail are all present for our users. Customers seeking a dedicated mail service for satellite connectivity enjoy an ocens.com domain.

In addition to OCENS Mail, OCENS has also recently released OneMail and OneMessage for iOS and Android phones and tablets. OneMail revolutionizes connectivity while you are away by enabling you to continue to communicate on your mobile device with friends, family and coworkers through the same pathway you use when at home or the office—your Gmail account. OneMessage is the first satellite messaging app which allows private, real-­‐person to real-­‐person communication through texting. Furthermore, OneMessage brings state-­‐of-­‐the-­‐art messaging to the satellite user without the heavy overhead of the popular network-­‐based messaging services.

Above all, never forget that the service and support which has set OCENS apart from its peers remains the benchmark of this upgrade.

 

About OCENS, Inc. OCENS data services, software and apps merge easy-­‐to-­‐use applications with unprecedented content offerings to affordably deliver data over satellite phones to remote users around  the world. OCENS weather, ocean and        fishing services provide access to the largest collection of GRIB and classical data that can be found anywhere. Using patented pull-­‐me  technology, OCENS WeatherNet provides fast access to the world’s widest selection of weather and ocean information over PC and Mac platforms. GRIB Explorer processes highly compressed GRIB  information  into unique  decision products for use on PC, Mac or iPad platforms. MetMapper transforms static weather charts and satellite imagery into dynamic planning tools. OCENS’ iPhone, Android, Windows phone and Blackberry apps provide weather and messaging services to the smartphone community. Its SpotCast weather service provides multi-­‐day, multi-­‐point forecasts of weather    and ocean conditions for any point on earth in a highly compact form. OCENS augments its software core with satellite  equipment and airtime solutions it provides in cooperation with all the major satellite providers.

 

OCENS Inc.

NEW OCENS OneMail provides Gmail access to satellite users

NEWS – For Immediate Release

OCENS Inc., Seattle WA
Media Contacts: Jeff Thomassen, 206.878.8270, jeff@ocens.com

NEW OCENS OneMail provides Gmail access to satellite users

OneMail for iOS and Android smartphones & tablets enables new level of remote connectivity

SEATTLE, WA October 1, 2015 – OCENS today announces the release of its OneMail mobile email service for Gmail access through satellite connections. OneMail revolutionizes connectivity while you are away by enabling you to continue to communicate with friends, family and coworkers through the same pathway you use when at home or the office—your Gmail account.

Gmail has become one of the most popular mail services on the planet. But the Gmail assumption of ample available bandwidth makes it a time and data hog when deployed over satellite phones. Until OneMail the fact that Gmail was just too slow and always too expensive over satellite connections meant that Gmail stayed at home or the office when we head off into the yonder with our satellite phones.

OneMail changes this for iOS and Android smartphone and tablet users by allowing you to affordably send and receive your mail through your Gmail account no matter where you are or what connection you depend upon. “OneMail takes a very unconventional approach to using your Gmail account.” states OCENS CTO Jeff Thomassen. “One Mail snaps back to you summary info about each mail waiting for you in your Gmail account, then allows you to tag only those mails that are of interest or important to you. We then compress and quickly pull those mails back to you.” OneMail sends and receives mail
through your Gmail account, works with attachments and is completely private and encrypted. Mail is auto-­‐archived by OneMail.

OneMail is compatible with the Iridium GO! and a wide range of broadband and semi-­‐broadband terminals. The service is available for a nominal monthly charge or discounted annual fee. Reseller programs are available.

About OCENS, Inc. OCENS data services, software and apps merge easy-­‐to-­‐use applications with unprecedented content offerings to affordably deliver data over satellite phones to remote users around the world. OCENS weather, ocean and fishing services provide access to the largest collection of GRIB and classical data that can be found anywhere. Using patented pull-­‐me technology, OCENS WeatherNet provides fast access to the world’s widest selection of weather and ocean information over PC and Mac platforms. GRIB Explorer processes highly compressed GRIB information into unique decision products for use on PC, Mac or iPad platforms. MetMapper transforms static weather charts and satellite imagery into dynamic planning tools. OCENS’ iPhone, Android, Windows phone and Blackberry apps provide weather and messaging services to the smartphone community. Its SpotCast weather service provides multi-­‐day, multi-­‐point forecasts of weather and ocean conditions for any point on earth in a highly compact form. OCENS augments its software core with satellite equipment and airtime solutions it provides in cooperation with all the major satellite providers.

See the downloadable press release here.

See the OneMail web page here.

OCENS adds exciting new data sets to WeatherNet

 

Effective July 1, OCENS has incorporated several new sources of wind, wave and general met GRIB data into its PC and Mac versions of WeatherNet.

These data include direct measurements of wind from the ASCAT satellite scatterometer, NDFD vector wind and wave height data, wind and other met data from the high resolution RAP model, and new wind and wave data for the Great Lakes.  In addition, several new sources of Arctic ice information have been incorporated into WeatherNet.

ASCAT wind: These wind data are unlike any other GRIB wind information in the world. The ASCAT satellite is continuously circling the earth and scanning the ocean surface. Collected data is processed using sophisticated algorithms and converted into measurements of wind speed and direction. Values are converted into GRIB form and pulled by OCENS to its Everon WeatherNet servers. What’s unique about ASCAT wind GRIBS? These are not modeled winds such as is the wind data in models such as the GFS, WW3, Navgem or really any other wind grib. Instead, these are the actual winds, measured by the satellite, and passed back to earth for distribution to ocean users. We’re not guessing at the winds here. We are actually measuring them…as if we hand a wind vane or buoy sitting everywhere in the ocean.

Where to find in WeatherNet: ASCAT wind data are available in Portal mode (GRIB wind/1 day) and Library mode under the GRIB Wind/Wave folder. Coverage is global.

NDFD wind and wave heights: The weather forecasts embodied in the weather charts produced by forecasters at the Ocean Prediction Center and the National Hurrican Center represent some of the highest quality and most reliable products on the planet. Their limitations? They are static weather charts. Picture files. Jpegs, tifs and gifs which you download and look at but which don’t offer much in terms of interactivity. WeatherNet’s NEW NDFD wind and wave GRIBs change all of this. They represent the result of converting those weather charts into GRIBs. Consequently, they preserve all the human intelligence and local knowledge put into those charts but make this information available in the form of GRIBs which can be animated, layered and closely analyzed.

Where to find in WeatherNet: NDFD data are available available in Portal mode (GRIB Wind/1 thru 6 days) and from Library mode inside the GRIB Wind/Wave folder. Coverage includes all US and Alaskan waters plus the Caribbean, Eastern Pacific and the Atlantic hurricane corridor.

RAP meteorological GRIBs: The Rapid Refresh (RAP) model is a very high spatial and 1 hour temporal resolution model forecasting over an 18 hour time period. It was constructed to serve the needs of users needing frequently updated short-term forecasts. This means it is most commonly used by aviators and severe weather forecasters.  However, these features will benefit any WeatherNet user monitoring short-term weather conditions changing at a pace that is faster than the 6 hour model update frequencies typical of most weather models.

Where to find in WeatherNet:  RAP wind, precipitation, CAPE, lifted index, air temperature, 500 mb and cloud cover GRIBs are available from WeatherNet’s Portal Mode (GRIB Wind/1 day) or Library mode inside the GRIB Met folder. Data cover North America and the Caribbean, large chunks of the West Atlantic and a significant portion of northwest South America.

Great Lakes wind and wave data:  The newly added Great Lakes wind and wave (GLWW) data is available in two flavors. The very high resolution data is available at a scale of 1/16 of a degree or approximately one data point every 3.75 miles. The coarser resolution, roughly 8 mile scale data, is labeled FAST in WeatherNet because its downloads occur much more quickly than the fine resolution product. FAST file sizes are roughly just 10% of the size of the high resolution product.

Where to find in WeatherNet: GLWW GRIBs are found in Portal mode (GRIB Wind/Days 1 through 7) and Library mode. To find GLWW in Portal mode, be sure to check the Great Lakes boxes on the GRIB Model Preferences wizard page. GLWW is found inside the GRIB Wind/Wave folder in Library mode.

All data are added to your computer-side WeatherNet databases with small incremental updates at the end of your WeatherNet session.  A reinstall of WeatherNet or a  File List Update does NOT need to be conducted to have access to the new data sets.

Questions? Contact OCENS at 1.206.878.8270 or support@ocens.com or visit: http://www.ocens.com/WeatherNet-4-P514C26.aspx

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

OCENS Services Summary

GRIB Explorer Plus for iPad: A decade’s worth of experience developing GRIB analysis tools for circumnavigators, expeditions and explorers is crafted into the most powerful yet easy-to-use iPad GRIB tool available for the everyday enthusiast. OCENS GE Plus includes the engine to acquire GRIBs through your satellite connection and melds acquired GRIB weather and ocean data into sensational images carrying unparalleled insights into the environment around you. GRIB data is overlaid on fantastic super resolution earth imagery for any location in the world. GE Plus enables satellite and wifi access. Go to App Store to purchase then activate a service account at www.ocens.com

WeatherNet 4+: Global coverage, award-winning design and the largest library of GRIB and classical weather, ocean and fishing data in the world all in one package. State-of-the-art compression routines and file transfer procedures to deliver data to you fast and affordably. Compatibility with PC and Mac and almost every satellite device on the market. Conventional and sat wifi enabled as well. Go to www.ocens.com/WeatherNet .


WeatherNet Pesca captures the WeatherNet engine and GRIB Explorer analysis package in a complete, one-piece Spanish language version.

GRIB Explorer for the PC and Mac: The most innovative and robust GRIB viewing and analysis package in the world. Layer GRIBs, animate, analyze in 3D, zoom, inspect through time with its Time Profiling tool, across your route with its Trip Planner and much, much more. Links to your GPS to plot current position on the GRIBs and provide appropriate range and bearing info. Go to www.ocens.com/GRIB_Explorer

MetMapper provides to your classical weather charts and satellite images what GRIB Explorer delivers to GRIBs. Interactive layers are added automatically to your WeatherNet charts to provide heads-up monitoring and dynamic analysis. Review text forecasts on-screen and juxtaposed to corresponding graphical charts. Process specially constructed WeatherNet animations that put these charts and imagery into motion like the evening news. Go to www.ocens.com/MetMapper

OCENS Mail is satellite email at its finest. Offline mail creation and reading. Auto-dialers to connect via satellite cabled and wifi connections and transfer your mail in seconds. Superior block file compression. BigMail filters and shunting. Midfile restart. Compatible with Outlook, Thunderbird, Eudora and many other mail clients. PC, Mac, iPad and smartphone compatability. Go to www.ocens.com

SNAPTrack is tracking made easy. SNAPTrack is OCENS response to the requests of many of our customers for a clean and simple solution to the tracking question.  SNAP shortens the path from where you are in even the most remote of locations to a screen that captures the ‘where’  of your wanderings. SNAPTrack is compatible with the Iridium 9575 and GO!. Just $10 per month for unlimited position mapping! Go to www.ocens.com/SNAP .

News, sports and stock market information compressed for delivery over satellite connection. Use QWIP to select the sport, team, stock or news category(s) of interest to you. QWIP auto-dials through your satellite phone, pulls the content you desire rapidly to you and then closes the connection behind it. Quickly use low-bandwidth connections or safely use high bandwidth ones to get your news, sports and stock info. Go to www.ocens.com/QWIP

OCENS Echo enables two-way private and personal text messaging to and through the Iridium GO! or G* Satfi/9600.  Echo is person to person, not person to machine like other satellite messaging.  This means your texts to an Echo friend dependent on satellite reach that friend and that friend only, not to the GO! and then to the first person who happens to link to the GO!.  Echo friends chat with one another in a personal manner knowing that their conversations are private and protected. Go to App Store

Conventional (Spotcast) and aviation (Flycast) weather delivered direct to your satellite device. Compatible with the Iridium 9575 and Iridium GO!, Inmarsat IsatPhone 1 and 2, and inReach SE and Explorer. 24, 48 and 72 hour SpotCast forecasts include temperature, cloud cover, precipitation, pressure and wind speed and direction. FlyCast includes METARs, TAFs plus aviation weather at your location. Go to www.ocens.com/spotcast

Voco dramatically lowers the cost of calls to satellite phones.  Voco routes calls through a local number then  to your satellite phone wherever it is in the world thereby eliminating the extreme rates home and cellular carriers charge to call satphones. Go to www.ocens.com/voco

Free Text Messaging to your Iridium with the OCENS SatMS app for your smartphone. SatMS eliminates high international texting service fees and messaging rates and allows any iPhone or Android smartphone to send text messages to your Iridium phone for free. Available on the Apple App store or Google Marketplace.

Via the use of a customized Firefox Web Browser and a specially designed fast web process, OCENS is able to reduce the time it takes to download typical web images by a factor of up to 10x. Users routinely see a 2 to 3 times improvement in download times when using XWeb. The fast web compression technology reduces typical pictures down to 5% of their original size dramatically reducing download times. Great for slow wifi connections in marinas, Globalstar connections and substantial savings as you browse with high bandwidth satellite. Go to www.ocens.com/xweb

 

For additional information don’t hesitate to contact OCENS at 206.878.8270 or email sales@ocens.com

 

 

Satellite wi-fi product offerings are all the buzz these days…

Most of us are familiar with, and used, My-Fi hotspots, tethered cell phones, and the like while at home or traveling around. It seems like it is about time that the satellite companies have come around and made this technology available for us to use offshore… and at prices that are more inline with our cellular plans… right?

GREAT NEWS! Iridium, Inmarsat, and Globalstar all now have Wi-Fi enabled devices that work with your smartphone and/or computer to give you nearly global phone service… and in most cases data as well! What… “in most cases”? As you might expect, that new satellite Wi-Fi device just may be too good to be true. While these new devices sound great in theory, and in marketing – we need to take a closer look at what these really are and what they are really capable of.

Let’s start with the Iridium GO! This is a nice, very compact and portable, device. There is very little to the unit itself. It has a small antenna that rotates up, doing double duty as the power switch. It has inputs for an optional auxiliary antenna and a mini USB port for power only, and an SOS button to quickly send a position report to emergency contacts. There is a small screen for viewing the terminals status such as signal strength, battery strength, and call status but it does have a rather cumbersome menu system and only two buttons for navigating that interface.

The primary control is done via the Iridium GO! app that you must have installed on your iOS or Android device. This app is required for making voice calls or sending SMS messages. Connection between the Iridium GO device and your smart phone is done via Wi-Fi, but just because this connection is Wi-Fi, it does not mean that you are also getting a open data connection for your device to use.

You will need dedicated apps and services for such things as email or weather. These 3rd party apps are required to have been approved by Iridium to support the functionality of the GO, have the coding to start and stop the data calls and ideally provide managed data services to make the most of the still only 2400 baud data connection. Now I know the marketing says that “Now you can now use your Smartphone anywhere in the world.” While that is technically true… The Iridium network is only capable of data speeds up to 2400 baud (or 17 KBpm – another way to look at this is one 17KB file will take 1 minute to download). This is not fast enough for you to connect your smartphone and be able to do what you normally do or fast enough to use the standard apps or other services that you most likely have on your phone.

Next up is the Globalstar Sat-Fi. This is very similar to the Iridium GO in overall functionality and limitations but is ever so slightly different. First, the hardware is not as compact. You have a box that is inside the vessel, antenna cables and a remote antenna that you have to mount outside. The unit requires a 12vdc power hookup as it does not have an internal battery. The only user interface on the device is a single round power button with an LED indicator. Like the other device, you must have the Sat-Fi app installed on your smartphone for making calls and sendning SMS. You also will need additional apps and services for things like email and weather.

What really sets the Globalstar device apart from the Iridium is that the Globalstar network supports data speeds up to 9600 baud (or about 50KB per minute). This is quite an improvement over the other network but still not enough to brows the web or use the standard apps on your device.

Lastly, Inmarsat has a new terminal out called the IsatHub. This is a small, portable device, about the size of a mini laptop, that you would set up on a table outside and point at the closest Inmarsat satellite. This also has apps that you will need to have installed for making calls like the others but with this service you can get data speeds up to 240kbps! Not quite what you have at home with your cable modem but faster that dialup and fast enough to actually use your full device and its native apps. You do however need to keep in mind that you are paying per megabyte for your data via the Inmarsat network and the IsatHub rates run around $6 per megabyte depending on the exact plan you go with.

This is by no means an exhaustive comparison of these new devices but hopefully will give you a more realistic starting point of how these devices might fit into your overall communications plan.

Author:

Jeff Thomassen

OCENS
22608 Marine View Dr. S., #300
Des Moines WA 98198

Satellite Systems And Service
Weather, Email, Voice & Data Solutions
Inmarsat, Iridium, Globalstar, KVH, VSAT
___________________________________________________________________
Office: 206.878.8270 : Cell: 206.769.8270 : Fax: 206.878.8314

WeatherNet Version 4.16 features Popular Products

Version 4.16 of WeatherNet adds the Popular Products feature to Portal and Library modes.

The Popular Product appears in the upper right corner of the Portal mode map and appears as a pre-defined batch in Library mode.

What are Popular Products?

The Popular Products (PP) button is a WeatherNet community feature. It draws upon the past history of requests made by the community of WeatherNet users for the area in which you are or will be working or playing. Popular Products is a terrific way to get to know the weather and ocean data available for a location which is new to you. For new WeatherNet users it is also a quick way to begin to understand the range of content available to you in WeatherNet. Since there is no fee until you have actually downloaded products which appear on the PP list, the list can get you up and using WeatherNet in a meaningful and productive manner in very little time.

How does it work?

When you click on the Popular Products button, WeatherNet reaches out and queries the OCENS Everon servers and compares your request box to requests for weather and ocean data made for the same or any overlapping boxes used by other community members in the past.  It produces a ‘Top Ten’ list of those requests and downloads the product names to your PC or Mac.  The Popular Product list is posted at the top of the Portal mode Content Tree (to the left of the Portal mode map).  Review the list and select none, one or more of its products for actual download.

Your Popular Product list is also preserved as a batch in Library mode. To download products in the Popular Product batch, Enable the batch first, then check the product(s) of interest to you in that batch. When satisfied, press the Start Transfer icon in Library mode to retrieve the Popular Products.

Whether in Portal or Library mode, the Popular Product list may include GRIBs, weather charts, text forecasts or any other product requested enough by the WeatherNet community to reach its ‘Top Ten’ for your target area.

It’s noteworthy that the request for the Popular Product list only downloads the list. It does not download any products themselves until you actually go into the list, check one or more of the product boxes and start a fresh Download.  Any Popular Products so checked will download along with other products you may have selected from the Content Tree.

The Popular Product list refers specifically to the geographic box you have drawn on the Portal mode map. If you change the location of that box, you must again click on the Popular Product’s button to get a fresh list for the new area.  Products selected and checked for one boxed area will NOT be memorized or downloaded later if you move the box to a new location.

If on a satellite phone, the request for the Popular Product list for your target box will consume some airtime.  Be sure to specify the Default Connection and Type of connection you will be using when you request the Popular Products before striking the PP button. You can choose those selections in your WeatherNet Account Control settings.

See more details on WeatherNet 4 here: http://www.ocens.com/WeatherNet-4-P514.aspx

WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR SATPHONE CONTINUITY? Published in Latitude 38

201412The following dialog between Jeff Thomassen of OCENS and the Editor of Latitude 38 was published under the title: WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR SATPHONE CONTINUITY?

Published November 2014
⇑⇓WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR SATPHONE CONTINUITY?
After reading letters about Iridium and other satellite communication services in recent Latitudes, I noticed some misconceptions in the letters and the answers that were provided by the satellite phone store. I hope I can clear some of it up.

Before anyone heads offshore, they should consult their airtime provider to verify the details of their account. They will want to confirm minute balances and expiration dates or terms of their airtime package, and/or confirm that their account is set up for automatic renewal if it runs low.

In the case of Iridium, there are two kinds of plans: post- paid and prepaid. With postpaid plans, you pay a monthly fee, plus minutes. There can be many different variations on this depending on how the dealer wants to market it. So pay attention to the details.

The other type of plan is prepaid. With these you pay a one-time fee for a block of minutes that are valid for a set amount of time. If you have a prepaid airtime account, you can call or send a text SMS from your Iridium phone to the number 2888, and the system will reply with information on your remaining airtime balance and term expiration date.

If your prepaid minutes run out, you will not be able to make any further calls. Some but not all carriers offer a number that you can call, even after your minutes have been used up, that will connect you to customer service and may allow you to have more min- utes added to your account. However, this is not a foolproof method and can vary dependent on the provider. It’snot something that I’d want to rely on in an emergency.

Satphone owners should keep in mind that there are a number of entities between the end user and the network provider, be it Iridium or Inmarsat. For example, Iridium sells its airtime to distribution partners (DPs) that may add a layer of services and features to the package. These DPs then sell the airtime plans to the dealers, who may also add to the offering before finally selling the plan to the end user.
Trying to coordinate adding airtime or reactivations, and having that filter through the system so that the Iridium net- work will allow you to make a call, can take time, especially if it’s not a standard new activation or just adding minutes to a regular account in good standing. Also keep in mind that the dealer is on the hook for the airtime charges. If the end user does not pay or defaults on their account, the dealer still has to pay for the airtime. Thus the dealer is going to be very concerned about adding airtime if there is any uncertainty about payment.
In addition, dealers may have access to multiple DPs to tap into for airtime. SIM cards, and thus the plans, are tied to specific DPs that cannot be mixed. The dealer cannot sell you a plan (SIM card) that was sourced from one DP and add minutes to it from another DP. So if your dealer switches DPs, they may ask you to switch out your SIM card or refuse to add minutes to your older card.
As both a sailor and a satellite solution provider, I highly recommend that end users make a test call from their sat- phone each month as a best practice. Making a test call will do the following:
• Make sure the battery is charged. It is a good idea to fully discharge the phone a few times per year to keep it in top condition.
• By making a call you are verifying that your airtime plan is still active. If your phone will not register on the network, or gives you an error message, it may indicate that your air- time plan has expired. You will need to contact an airtime provider to obtain new service. This will most likely require that a new SIM card be sent to you.
• Making a successful call verifies that you remember how to make a call. Most satellite phones are treated as international, and require you to call all numbers as if you are making international calls — no matter where you are or where you are calling.
• The test also confirms that the phone is in operable condition. Verify that you are receiving a good signal, that you can hear the voice on the other end, and that they can hear you.
Many carriers have a dedicated number for making free test calls, but I recommend calling someone you know for better feedback.

Jeff Thomassen
OCENS, Ha-Ha Sponsor
Des Moines, Washington

Jeff — Everybody knows that satphones are frequently relied upon in life-and-death situations, and that 99% of the end users can’t remember the expiration date of their plan — let alone the very fine details of whatever plan their particular retailer talked them into. So we think it’s incumbent upon the vendor who sells the time to alert the end user a month in advance of the expiration of their plan and/or when 90% of their usage is up. If AT&T can do it by MTS and email with their cell-phone service, why can’t satellite time providers do the same? Besides, isn’t it in the best interest of the vendor to do this? It gives them the opportunity to sell more time and keep from losing a customer to a competitor.

Published December 2014
⇑⇓DIFFICULTY IN CONTACTING SATPHONE SUBSCRIBERS
I first want to thank Latitude for including my ‘Who Is Responsible For Satphone Continuity’ letter in the November issue. I am happy to assist in bringing this information to light, and hopefully assist users in their understanding of how the current satellite phone systems operate and what things to look out for. We’ve had many conversations with boatowners at the last few boat shows regarding all of this, and know that this is a hot topic in light of the Rebel Heart incident that kicked off all the publicity.

In response to my November letter, the Latitude editor replied as follows: “Everybody knows that satphones are frequently relied upon in life-and-death situations, and that 99% of the end users can’t remember the expiration date of their plan — let alone the very fine details of whatever plan their particular retailer talked them into. So we think it’s in- cumbent upon the vendor who sells the time to alert the end user a month in advance of the expiration of their plan and/ or when 90% of their usage is up. If AT&T can do it by MTS and email with their cellphone service, why can’t satellite time providers do the same? Besides, isn’t it in the best interest of the vendor to do this? It gives them the opportunity to sell more time and keep from losing a customer to a competitor.”

I agree that most satellite phone users do not keep very close tabs on the status of their accounts. In the case of Iridium prepaid plans — the primary airtime plan being faulted in this discussion for mariners’ being unable to use their phones because time ran out or expired — keep the following in mind:
1) Each time you make a voice call, you get a voice prompt with your current balance and expiration date before the call is completed.
2) Prepaid plans do not require monthly billings that might keep the user up-to-date.
3) Prepaid plans do not autorenew unless specifically requested by the end user, where an agreement must be in place between the customer and the vendor. Keep in mind that the dealer is responsible for the airtime. If they were to auto-reload a customer’s account without the customer’s fully agreeing to it, the customer could refuse to pay. Because these are prepaid minutes, the minutes cannot be retracted, so the dealer would be left on the hook.

Also keep in mind that satellite phone users are typically remote. This means that in most cases they are not getting regular email, phone calls or physical mail. Nor, in many cases, do they want to. So getting in touch with them can be rather difficult. Thus it is not quite fair to put all of this burden on the airtime vendor, but as you can see, it is important to pick your vendor carefully.

As an airtime vendor, we at OCENS truly understand why customers have satellite phones. And we understand the nature of how and where these devices are typically used. This knowledge is evident in all the products and services we both design and offer. Our goal is to help customers to get the most out of their equipment and service, so we make every effort to alert the customer as to the status of their accounts — even prepaid accounts. We send out a number of notices when their balances get low or expiration dates get near. We send alerts via the email address provided by the customer, and then again via SMS directly to the phones. We want to not only keep our customers, but also keep them safe and happy.

Jeff Thomassen
OCENS
Des Moines, Washington

Jeff — If you use email and SMS alerts to customers to alert them that their plan — even if it’s a prepaid plan — is about to expire, we think you’re doing everything that you legally and ethically should be obligated to do. We think that what you’re doing should be an industry-wide requirement.
When Profligate crewman Fin Bevin does the Ha-Ha, he always brings his Iridium/OCENS combo to produce GRIB files on the computer screen. It’s one of several great ways to get weather when far offshore.