When Disaster Strikes: How Satellite Phones Like Iridium Can Keep You Connected

Wind storm damage

Tree falls after Nor’easter storm and takes down a telephone pole with Transformer.

To us, one of the worst things that all of the recent disasters had in common, was that they left millions of people — millions of families — disconnected from everything that they needed not only to survive, but to recover. 

Natural disasters can strike at any time, leaving you and your family stranded without the ability to do something as simple as make a phone call.  Over the last few years, the United States has experienced wildfires in California, tornadoes throughout the Gulf Coast, flooding near rivers and devastation caused by hurricanes in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.  While physical essentials like food, water and shelter are often limited during disasters, communications are often overlooked as an emergency resource.  In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico experienced an outage of their land-based networks that are used for landlines and cell phone usage.  First responders relied on satellite communications in order to coordinate relief efforts, and afflicted families were able to connect with their loved ones using Iridium® satellite phones.

In a disaster, there is a risk that telephone lines may fail quickly – and those that don’t can be overloaded with users attempting to place calls.  Satellite communications may become the only alternative as your ‘cellular tower in the sky’.  Iridium provides satellite connectivity with its network of 66 Low-Earth orbit (LEO) satellites that brings reliable service to anyone throughout the world.  Satellite connectivity is a critical emergency resource and backup communications source that allows you, your family, and colleagues to stay safe, aware and connected during a crisis. 

Why Iridium?

Iridium is the only provider that offers truly global coverage for mobile satellite devices.  Some providers have large stationary satellites placed in space over 22,000 miles away in Geostationary Orbit (GEO).  Given the distance away from Earth, satellite providers with LEO constellations, like Iridium, tend to experience lower latency on phone calls and provide coverage in areas that cannot be served by GEO constellations.  For example, if you’re stranded in a mountainous area, you may struggle to have a clear line of sight between your satellite phone and a GEO satellite.  With LEO satellites, terrain blockages resolve themselves as the satellites move overhead.

Iridium’s network of 66 LEO satellites continually orbiting the earth supplies clear and reliable communications no matter where you are.  Iridium offers easy-to-use satellite phones and devices that can quickly connect you to the Iridium network, and allow you to place calls during a crisis, especially when cellular connectivity is unavailable. 

How do I choose a satellite device?

Another benefit of a LEO network is the compact and mobile products associated with it.  For example, Iridium GO!® is a small ‘modem’ that connects your smartphone to the Iridium satellite network.  Simply load the Iridium GO! mobile application to your smartphone, connect it to the Iridium network and place a call.  Iridium GO! provides multiple options to stay in touch. You can check email, send a text, update your social media accounts or send an SOS message when in need.   


The Iridium satellite phone, called Iridium Extreme®, is suitable for users on the move. It has a rugged design that can withstand harsh conditions, and features an SOS-button for emergency situations. The SOS button  automatically dials the GEOS emergency response center, a part of the International Emergency Response Coordination Center (IERCC), providing a connection to a live support representative.  The SOS-functionality requires users to register online in order to initiate this emergency response service, and once pushed, the SOS button will send location data for response coordination with local public authorities. The button is programmable so corporations or organizations can have emergency calls routed to their internal response center if needed.

How do I use a satellite device?

An Iridium satellite phone is nearly as easy to use as a regular phone. However, here are some tips to keep you connected at all times. When using your satellite device, it is important that you ensure the device has been fully charged.  When placing a call from a satellite phone, make sure you have a clear view of the sky in order to connect to the network.  To place a call, simply dial 001 (US country code) followed by the phone number.

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Having an emergency plan is a necessity in any household.  Ensuring you have a guaranteed and reliable communication source that works with you wherever you go is the best way to stay safe and connected during a disaster.  When preparing for a disaster, be sure to include Iridium in your emergency kit.  You can test your satellite phone for free using Iridium’s Test Your Satellite Number: 001-480-752-5105.

For more information on Iridium and where to purchase, please visit:

Have Fun Getting Your Stuff Together! We’ll talk later…


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