Everest Trek @$^&! Satellite Phone

Hiya all, this is Chris calling in from a small internet cafe (1 computer) at Namche Bazar in Nepal. We made our way up here from Lukla and even though we’d love to send you many many more updates, we are currently stuck with a satellite phone that doesn’t activate, resulting in less than optimum connection to the outside world. We are trying to work with the sat phone provider to get this fixed, and at the moment we are waiting for them to get back to us with a solution. Let’s all keep our fingers crossed that this will work soon.

Other than that, we are all fine after a massive hike yesterday that brought some of us at and beyond the limits of what they had ever before. Including yours truly. This is an amazing experience and we all wish we had more possibilities to share things with you all.

Let’s hope for the best.

Signing off.


Author: Chris Marquardt

Chris Marquardt is co-author of Absolut analog and The Film Photography Handbook. He hosts Tips from the Top Floor, the world's longest running photography show. Chris teaches photography all over the world on his photo tours. He is also a regular on the TWiT Network.

8 thoughts on “Everest Trek @$^&! Satellite Phone”

  1. Having worked as a satellite modem mfgr/developer 20 yrs, I hope you get through your issues. It’s time that the individual (you, me) be able to get access to the >huge!< increase in technology in the last 10 years. You should expect the service that you think should be there! (make sense?) Still, have fun, let us know what’s up!! We’ll be waiting and watching Twitter, tfttf, etc…

  2. Ah, that sucks. Enjoy your trek anyways! We look forward to the wonderful pictures and video you will bring back!

  3. Were you able to solve the satellite phone issue? What was the solution. I’ll be climbing in the Himalayas in August, what would you suggest?



  4. Hi Chris Hallam,

    We were using a Thuraya 2510 with an ECO SIM as well as an Inmarsat BGAN (a Wideye SABRE I).

    I also own an Iridium 9505A but the reception is pretty maddening in the Himalayas due to the high peaks blocking line-of-sight with the satellites. I love that phone but you only get 3-5 minutes of reception at a time. So, for this trip I wanted to try out Thuraya since it doesn’t depend on LEO satellites and therefore wouldn’t suffer from the line-of-sight issues.

    The Thuraya and Inmarsat hardware worked flawlessly. It was the SIM activation process that was confusing. I feel the company that I purchased everything from wasn’t clear enough on the process, but I am also to blame as I should have contacted them the week before I left to go over the process step by step and make sure I knew exactly what to do.

    I feel like I knew steps 1 and 3 very well, but was missing step 2. We were able to get everything fully working with just less than a week of trekking left to go and it all worked beautifully once properly activated.

    I have never had any problems with the Iridium phone since I was able to get everything working before I left home as it truly is a global device. As you know, the Thuraya coverage is only in the eastern hemisphere so I was out of luck at home in Colorado!

    In the past I have used gear provided by CNN as I was producing content for them while on my trips. Let me tell you, if you’re ever using CNN gear and have issues, their support is PHENOMENAL. They know all of the sat gear inside and out and jump all over problems as they arrive. Contact them via phone, email or SMS and suddenly there’s a team of people coming up with solutions for you. Obviously their pockets are fairly deep and so it’s difficult for a small reseller to provide the same level of around the clock service. I totally understand that but I confess that my previous experiences with CNN made me a bit too sure it would all “just work”.

    Next time, I need to do my homework in the last few days before I leave for my trip!


  5. Hi Jon,

    Hope things worked out for you with the activation process. Thuraya is a great product as is the BGAN Wideye. Love to hear how the Wideye device performed for you.

    Feel free to contact us prior to your next expedition, maybe we can work something out. We can certainly rectify the activation issues!

    All the best,


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