Why you can trust ZDNet
Our recommendations are based on many hours of testing, research, and comparison shopping. We may earn a commission when you purchase a product through our links. This helps support our work but does not influence what we write about or the price you pay. Our editors thoroughly review and fact check every article. More Info

‘ZDNet Recommends’ What exactly does that mean?

ZDNet’s recommendations are based on many hours of testing, research, and comparison shopping. We gather data from the best available sources, including vendor and retailer listings as well as other relevant and independent reviews sites. And we pore over customer reviews to find out what matters to real people who already own and use the products and services we’re assessing.

When you click through from our site to a retailer and buy a product or service, we may earn affiliate commissions. This helps support our work, but does not affect what we cover or how, and it does not affect the price you pay. Neither ZDNet nor the author are compensated for these independent reviews. Indeed, we follow strict guidelines that ensure our editorial content is never influenced by advertisers.

ZDNet's editorial team writes on behalf of YOU, our reader. Our goal is to deliver the most accurate information and the most knowledgeable advice possible in order to help you make smarter buying decisions on tech gear and a wide array of products and services. Our editors thoroughly review and fact-check every article to ensure that our content meets the highest standards. If we have made an error or published misleading information, we will correct or clarify the article. If you see inaccuracies in our content, please report the mistake via this form

Close

Setting up a private satellite Wi-Fi network is now cheaper and easier than ever

Pressures put on the cellular networks during this time of pandemic has resulted in some looking to space for more reliable communications. And it's never been easier to put together a private satellite network.

The ubiquity of cellular coverage is something that's easy to take for granted. Even if you live in a relatively rural area, seeing zero bars on your smartphone is quite rare these days. But it still happens. Another problem is network saturation as a result of too many people trying to make use of the network at any one time.

ZDNet Recommends

The best Wi-Fi router 2021

These are ZDNet's top picks for Wi-Fi routers suitable for home offices and remote working.

Read More

Then there's the issue of reliability during emergencies.

This is where the ability to set up a reliable Wi-Fi network connected to satellites orbiting high above the earth really comes into play.

While there are a multitude of satellite networks that you can tap into with the right equipment -- Iridium and Inmarsat being the two best known -- a network worth looking at for use within the US is Globalstar.

And it's not that expensive, and you don't need to replace all your smartphones with satellite phones to make it work.

Must read: Five iPhone security settings you should check today

Globalstar Sat-Fi2

sat-fi2

One of the quickest and easiest ways to make use of the Globalstar network is to set up a private satellite Wi-Fi network using a Sat-Fi2 portable satellite Wi-Fi hotspot. You turn it on, it connects to Globalstar's constellation of satellites and then sets up a Wi-Fi network to which you can connect up to eight devices.

You can then use your existing smartphone to make phone calls, and send and receive text messages and emails.

You can also make limited use of social media and the internet using Sat-Browse, powered by Yippy, which gives you compressed data for faster web browsing with speeds up to 72 kbps (I know, not fast, but this is using a satellite!).

The Sat-Fi2 also features SOS capabilities, allowing you to communicate with GEOS emergency response for added peace of mind if things go bad.

The Sat-Fi2 features a built-in rechargeable lithium battery good for up to 28 hours in hibernation mode, and 6 hours on standby, and giving you up to 2 hours of talk time, and the device itself is built for rough usage, being dust- and water-resistant and able to withstand a high force of shock that's normal for a device that might be lugged about and used in less than comfortable conditions.

Priced normally at $499, the Sat-Fi2 is now available for $249.99 and comes with a number of service plans starting at $30 a month. However, if you know you are going to be using it a lot, for a limited time there's an unlimited voice and data package available for $50 per month.

Key features:

  • DATA SPEEDS: Sat-Browse, powered by Yippy, gives you compressed data for faster web browsing with speeds up to 72 kbps. 
  • DUST & WATER RESISTANT: Sat-Fi2 is dust and water-resistant making this rugged device capable of withstanding harsh conditions and extreme environments.
  •  BATTERY: Built-in rechargeable lithium battery that lasts up to 28 hours on standby and up to 2 hours of talk time.
  •  VOICE AND DATA CHANNELS: Connect up to 8 personal smart devices to your own private satellite network.
  •  LIGHTWEIGHT & PORTABLE: Measuring 5.8 inches long by 2.9 inches wide by 1.5 inches tall and weighing 12.6 ounces, Sat-Fi2 is extremely portable & lightweight.

Sat-Fi2 tech specs:

DIMENSIONS

  • Width: 2.9in
  • Height: 1.5in (36.9mm)
  • Length: 5.8in (148.4mm)

WEIGHT

  • 12.6oz

POWER

  • Power Supply: 5VDC

CONNECTIVITY

  • Wi-Fi Range: max 100ft / 30m
  • Data Speeds: Up to 72kbps

BATTERY

  • Standby Time: 28 hours
  • Talk Time: 2 hours
  • Battery Type: Rechargeable. lithium battery

ENVIRONMENTAL

  • Operating Environment: -4 degrees F to 95 degrees F (-20 degrees C to 35 degrees C) In direct sunlight