Emergency with a good ending…

There is more to satellite phone communications than just having the satellite phone. We at OCENS strive to provide not only the best equipment for the application, but the follow up service that customers need to actually make it all work and keep it going. Thank you to Dave for letting us know how this event turned out and we are very thankful that you all made it back ok.

“Thank you very much for your assistance when my wife called you during a medical emergency at our hunting camp. She said you were most helpful in obtaining more minutes for our sat phone.

Between the air force C130 and a Blackhawk helicopter which we wouldn’t have been able to get without the sat phone we saved the live of a fellow hunter who was having severe breathing and heart problems.

It is amazing how fast the minutes of use add up when you are trying to coordinate between state troopers, air force personnel, medical people and giving weather reports to flight crews and everything else. The event started at 9:30pm on 9/17/13 and took two different rescue attempts by four different crews because of severe weather (snow, wind, rain, and darkness). It took thirteen hours to finally get to us and airlift him out. The Blackhawk landed and picked him up, flew him to Gakona where he was transferred to a C130 which flew him to Anchorage to Providence hospital. He spent five days in the hospital and was released on the sixth day. Thought you might like to know the results of your help. The sat phone worked great.

Again thank you so much for your help.”

Dave Carroll and Ben Cabo Alaska hunting crew

Travelling Internationally? Consider a Satellite Phone Rental.

We’ve put together a new analytical tool to make it helpful for you to compare international roaming rates on the major cellular carriers with the cost of renting an Iridium satellite phone. Besides the cost savings that you can experience in many instances, and which you’ll see in the examples below, you gain the following advantages by having a satellite phone along with you:

Iridium will work anywhere in the world–literally anywhere. Where cellular is limited to areas in which towers are present, a satellite phone uplinks directly to a satellite, and Iridium’s satellite constellation provides 100% worldwide coverage.

A satellite phone has one universal rate. Regardless of where you are calling from and where you are calling to, the rate on a satellite phone call is going to be exactly the same. With cellular, international roaming rates can vary greatly from country to country and can even vary from network to network within a country. Besides roaming rates, you also could be liable for international toll rates, depending on where you are calling to.

Incoming calls are free on a satellite phone. Direct incoming calls are always free on a satellite phone. With cellular, you’ll be liable for the international roaming rates regardless of an inbound or outbound call.

A satellite phone has extended battery life and is built rugged. Satellite phones are designed to be used in remote areas and in the outdoors, so they are built very rugged and weatherproof. They also pack a lot more battery power than your average cellular phone, so you don’t have to worry as much about frequent recharges. The Iridium 9555’s battery provides around 30 hours of standby time.

We’ve created a complete international roaming rate matrix for Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint which allows you to quickly compare costs by country. You can see each one in the links below:  





The following are a few example scenarios to illustrate the potential cost differences between roaming internationally and renting a sat phone, and they don’t take into account the previously mentioned benefits of having a satellite phone on hand (such as coverage):

Example 1: Let’s say you are taking a three week trip to South America and you plan on being in Argentina for a week, Chile for a second week, and Peru for a third week. You plan on using 120 minutes of calling time each week (about 17 minutes per day). If your carrier is Verizon, your roaming costs alone would be $598.80 for week one, $279.79 for week two, and $346.80 for week three for a total of $1225.39. This same trip with AT&T would cost you $720.00 and with T-Mobile, you would be paying $1328.40. Sprint would run you $822.38. Your cost for an Iridium phone rental with the same amount of airtime would be just $549.

Example 2: You’re taking a one week trip to Russia and are only planning on using 60 minutes of calling time. Verizon will charge you $244.39 and T-Mobile and Sprint would both cost $359.40 in roaming fees. The cost for an Iridium phone rental with 60 minutes of airtime would be just $153.00.

Example 3: You’re going on a two week safari in both Tanzania and Zambia. You plan on using 120 minutes throughout the trip. With Verizon, you’ll pay anywhere from $279.79 to $483.79, T-Mobile $718.80, and Sprint anywhere from $483.79 to $598.80. The cost for an Iridium phone rental with 120 minutes of airtime would be $282.00.

Do you travel internationally frequently?

If so, another perspective is to consider simply owning a satellite phone, such as the entry-level-priced IsatPhone Pro. After the initial investment of $699 to own that phone, you would have access to the following global prepaid airtime bundles: 25 minutes for $30, 50 minutes for $55, 100 minutes of $99, and 250 minutes for $245, as well as larger bundles. Using the most dramatic example of the South America trip above, the price of a new phone plus 250 prepaid minutes would still be over $300 less than the roaming costs on T-Mobile and over $200 less than Verizon. See more details on the IsatPhone Pro here.

So, before you plan your next international excursion, consider which mobile communications device is going to provide the best value in terms of costs, coverage, and capabilities. See details on the Iridium rental program here. 

You can see more details on OCENS’ entire line of products, services, airtime, and rentals at: www.ocens.com.


Inmarsat Mini-M & Fleet Classic LES Changes

As of January 1, Land Earth Station (LES) 015 is no longer available for use. If you are an OCENS customer with an Inmarsat Mini-M or a Fleet 33/55/77 (Fleet Classic) terminal, and use it in the LES 015 region please contact us here at the Office so we can provide you with new LES info.


OCENS Software and Windows 8 compatibility

With Windows 8 now being on the market for several months, it is understandable to wonder if OCENS software will work without compatibilties issues  on Windows 8. This article is aimed to make known that the only bone of contention found when using OCENS software with Windows 8 is due to the Windows 8 driver signature enforcement, a new implementation by Microsoft aim against bad drivers installation

OCENS customers will bump into this signature enforcement barrier when trying to install the drivers related to their specific comunication systems (Satellite devices). Following are the steps to take to resolve this issue.

Disable Driver Signature Enforcement in Windows 8
How to install an unsigned driver on Windows 8

Windows 8 by default will not let you install unsigned drivers. In order to install an unsigned driver, you can follow the steps shown below to start Windows 8 in “Disable Driver Signature Enforcement” mode.

Move the cursor over the top or bottom right corner or the screen and it will show extra options on the right side of the screen (This is the new Charm Bar in Windows 8).

Choose the Settings option (icon looks like a Gear).

Choose “Change PC settings” option

Choose “General”

Choose the “Restart now” from the bottom of the list on the right

Click “Troubleshoot”

 Click “Advanced options”

Click “Startup Settings

Choose “Restart”

Choose the “Disable driver signature enforcement” option

Once Windows restarts you will be able to continue and install your satellite phone device drivers.

Motorcyles + Dirt + Festive Crowd = Adventure Days

I had the privilege of spending the last weekend at the RawHyde ranch in the foothills above Castaic, CA  for the first annual Adventure Days rally and and trade show. Adventure motorcycling enthusiasts are very familiar with the RawHyde ranch as it is the premier official BMW training facility for adventure riding. Jim Hyde, the founder of RawHyde, and his crew put together a fantastic and first of its kind event which forms part of long term campaign branded as ADV Life, and one that will greatly contribute to the growth of the industry and sport, unify enthusiasts, and connect riders to suppliers.

RawHyde Ranch

Adventure Days provided the following benefits to attendees:

1. A well attended rally with three full days of riding and professional riding instruction from the RawHyde staff.

2. A full schedule of classes on topics ranging from emergency bike repair, GPS basics, first aid and survival techniques (taught by Navy Seals, no less), international travel and logistics, and satellite communications among others.

3. An opportunity for riders to speak with core vendors in the industry, see and demo new products, and even have their bikes inspected and fitted with new components and accessories.

4. Days and nights full of comradery, fantastic cuisine, and even live music to add to the festivities.

Acres of adventure at the RawHyde ranch.

I had the opportunity to teach a class on satellite communications to a very receptive audience and to demo the newest satellite communications equipment such as the Hughes 9202 BGAN terminal, which is the most compact and versatile satellite internet hotspot available as well as the feature-loaded Iridium 9575 Extreme satellite phone, which provides coverage anywhere on the earth’s surface and has built in GPS position reporting as well as an SOS button. Both are very essential tools when travelling off of the beaten path and allow you go anywhere while staying connected.

Training Day-RawHyde style

As is to be expected, Jim Hyde and Co. pulled out all the stops for this event. If you weren’t able to make it this year, make sure to mark it on the calendar for next year.

Many thanks to Jim Hyde and staff and all of the vendors and partners that made Adventured Days 2012 such a great event. I look forward to seeing you at Adventure Days 2013!

See the Adventure Days website here: http://www.advlife.us/advdays/

Adware’s Impact on your Satellite Connections

Adware are programs which can be accidently (or intentionally) downloaded from the Internet and who then seek to return to the Internet to pull down advertisements for your review. On high bandwidth connections such as your home DSL or wifi, they are usually nothing more than an annoyance. Through lower bandwidth pipes such as those provided by most satellite phones, however, they become a much more insidious and expensive threat.

I was reminded of the importance of attention to adware when I assisted a customer who stopped by our booth at the Annapolis Sail Show last month. The customer was experiencing consistent problems completing WeatherNet downloads. WeatherNet would dial the phone, handshake and then commence a connection. But as soon as that connection dialog would post, the system would sit and sit and sit until eventually timing out. No matter how many times she repeated the process the same problem was evident. Not surprisingly, she was quite frustrated.

The customer asked if she could bring the computer into the booth on Sunday afternoon at the show.Once there, we booted it up, connected it to her phone and sure enough witnessed the same thing. Before doing anything else we looked in her corner taskbar to see what programs were running. Not surprisingly, a half a dozen adware programs were running in the background.

What was happening? As mentioned above, these adware and most other programs on your computer are designed to pull content from the internet whenever they see an internet connection. It makes no difference to these programs that an internet connection is running at 2400 baud and costing you $1.00 plus per minute over your satellite phone. They recognize its presence and they want to use it to do their deeds. When you then have one, two, or heaven forbid, six adware programs trying to squeeze their activity through the slim satphone pipe, nobody gets priority and everything moves slower than molasses in a Wisconsin winter.

It may be worse on mid-range bandwidth install like Fleet Broadband or Pilot. Here you have bandwidth to allow the adware to run and still let highly efficient programs like WeatherNet or OCENS Mail conduct the business you really want done. So no immediate frustration. Instead, its at the end of the month when you receive your airtime bill that you feel the pain. All those bytes of adware files were downloaded at $10 to $20 per MB. Money that’s totally wasted.

But I digress. Back to our Annapolis Sail Show project. After spotting the adware programs in the taskbar tray, we loaded the computer’s control panel and began uninstalling each of them from the Programs and Features control . Some were more stubborn than others and some left a remnant of themselves which kept asking if it could reinstall itself on the computer. So a thorough cleaning or drive re-format is probably something this customer should consider down the road. However, the impact of adware removal on the WeatherNet transfer process was immediate and striking. As soon as the connection was established, WeatherNet proceeded to the ‘wait one moment for the server to process your request’ message and then began downloading the desired files.

The moral of the story is to be careful what you are agreeing to load onto your computer. The corollary, however, is more insidious. That is, no matter how careful you are, sometimes programs you don’t want on your computer find their way onto it or data in which you have no interest downloads through your satellite connection. A few minutes taken to eliminate those programs now might save a lot of expensive minutes and frustrating experiences later. A reasonably straightforward way of doing this is to download Malwarebytes from malwarebytes.org and run this program regularly to check for and remove malicious malware or adware. It only runs when you run it so there is no concern for it trying to access the Internet itself. A more comprehensive means of addressing this sort of problem is to talk to OCENS about one of our satellite routers that can wholistically block any and all unwanted traffic and allowing only OCENS Mail, WeatherNet and XWeb use your valuable satellite connection.

New OCENS shows and events have been added

See all of the OCENS shows and events here. http://www.ocens.com/ShowsEventsNews.aspx