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South Pacific experiences with satphone e-mail

Jan 1, 2003

To the editor: The recent article by John Kettlewell on Iridium satphones ("Data via satphone," Issue No. 155, July/August 2006) reminded me of our experience with service providers in the South Pacific. One of the Iridium providers mentioned AST and UUPlus. We used UUPlus across the Pacific from Panama to New Zealand with excellent results. We let UUPlus lapse and we ran out of minutes on the Iridium just as we arrived in New Zealand. Eight months later we were getting ready to leave New Zealand for Australia via New Caledonia. I purchased minutes from a provider in Wellington, New Zealand, and when I got the SIMM card, we also received a disc with the AST e-mail system on it. I decided to use AST and got it working using tech support in Australia.

We left New Zealand and I was sending position reports to various persons via AST. I received one e-mail (weather advisory) one day after we left, which was already out of date. The next morning I sent another e-mail to tech support in Australia. The morning after I received 13 e-mails. I sent their tech support a rather scathing e-mail explaining my displeasure. The next day I tried to get my AST e-mail and I was no longer connected. AST had cut us off in the middle of a 1,000-mile passage and we had no weather info at that time. Fortunately, I still had the UUPlus disc. I loaded it and tried to send e-mail. It worked! Turns out that UUPlus will keep users in their database for up to two years. This switch of providers was done on a trip from New Zealand to New Caledonia.

Terrence J. McMahon lives in League City, Texas, and sails Leprechaun, a Hylas 46.


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