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Ethen Wagner

18/12/2007 - Should You Rent or Buy a Satellite Phone?

The decision to buy or rent satellite phones has to be made keeping in mind several factors.

Satellite phones are often the only means of communication available to industries related to maritime operations, mining, oil and aviation.

They also play a crucial role during times of natural calamities or for disaster management efforts. Hence the decision to rent or buy a satellite phone must be made keeping in mind the circumstances and usage of the phone itself.

Firstly, one needs to evaluate whether the need for the satellite phone is temporary, recurring or permanent. In case of travelers or adventurers the need is often just temporary. You are going for a one-off vacation to the Sahara desert and a satellite phone is a must. For people with jobs that continuously take them to remote areas like war correspondents working in the field or national geographic documentary photographers, the need for a satellite phone is recurring. And lastly, for corporations and companies that have offices in isolated areas the need for satellite phones is permanent.

Simple logic dictates that when the need is temporary it is better to simply rent a satellite phone rather than invest in buying one. For recurring users and permanent office use, buying is obviously the better solution.

Secondly, you also need to estimate your usage. If on a one off trip also, you intend to use the phone extensively you may need to re-evaluate your decision. The difference in cost per minute between buying and renting the satellite phones can be quite large. If you have high usage it may actually be more beneficial for you to buy the phone rather than keep paying rental fees.

Thirdly, cost can be another factor to determine whether you want to buy or rent a satellite phone. Buying a satellite phone and airtime is an expensive affair. Renting is much cheaper in the short term. Also, rates of satellite phones and airtime charges are decreasing by the day. Some people may prefer to play the waiting game and go rental instead of buying.

Buying a satellite phone can put you back by about a $1000. Add to that the cost of buying extra batteries, a charger, a carry case and an extra antenna and you are looking at anything from $2000 - $2500. Renting a satellite phone on the other hand will cost you barely $30-$50 / week. On the other hand, most satellite phone rental companies require you to rent the phone for at least a week. Also, they count the rent period as starting from the day the phone is shipped to you to the day they receive it back. Lastly, prepaid airtime on a rented phone can cost almost double the cost of getting a good plan for your own phone.

So, whether you decide to buy a satellite phone or rent one is dependent on several factors and only you can decide which option is best for you!

Rex Strong is the owner and operator of www.satellitephonesite.com. Link to this article: satellite phone rental

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