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I'm looking for a solution to live-stream my hikes. As far as I'm aware, the best solution is to do cellular bonding, but I will be in areas with little to no cell-signal. (I'm based in the mountains just outside Seattle).

Are there any portable satellite receivers that exist on the market today? Or do I need to wait a few years before this technology is available? I saw Starlink come out recently, but it requires a stationary position. Thanks.

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  • AFAIK, unlike GSM/LTE/5G towers, connections with satellites require you to direct the antenna to a specific location, unless there is a network of satellites, which are being deployed by some investors currently and still needs a few years to be ready. Thats why services like Starlink have limited coverage as of now. Feb 10, 2021 at 23:06
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    At the moment at least, Starlink requires a pretty large antenna which is most certainly not suitable for hiking. Other satellite-based solutions will have either very low bandwidth, excessive cost (especially for streaming video), the need for large antennas carefully aimed at a satellite, or a combination of those.
    – jcaron
    Feb 11, 2021 at 2:47
  • The usual solution is really cellular networkS. Broadcasters have expensive appliances which connect to several networks (in parallel, and in parallel also to the same network) to have redundancy and possibly always a good connection). They are professionals, so they may add some radio links (you must be licensed radio operator) to a base station. For sure less expensive then satellite connections. Feb 11, 2021 at 8:47
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    Broadcasters do use satellite connections sometimes, but the kinds of costs you can expect are wildly expensive for personal use, particularly given the higher bandwidth needed to even attempt streaming while you're in motion. Feb 11, 2021 at 10:44

2 Answers 2

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It depends a little on what you mean by 'Live-Stream'.

A number of devices exist that will send your location at regular intervals, which can then be tracked via a website. Probably the most common of these are the Garmin InReach range of devices, and the Spot trackers.

These devices generally also allow you to send and receive SMS messages, either directly via the device itself, or via a connected Smartphone (not using the smartphone coverage). Prices are generally fixed per month, and generally very affordable (eg, $10-40 per month for Spot depending on the service)

If you are thinking of actually streaming audio or video, the only real options are satellite phones, which generally run on one of three satellite systems - Thuraya, Iridium, and Globalstar. Prices for such services vary depending on the provider and the package, but generally start at "insane" and go up from there. Voice calls are generally around $1+ per minute (a little cheaper if buying in bulk), and data rates vary dramatically but start at several dollars per megabyte. Unless you are, for example, a new organization like CNN, these options are almost certainly not viable. The devices themselves are also expensive, especially those that support data, starting at around $1,000 and going up from there.

Cheaper satellite internet is available - such as the upcoming Starlink systems you mentioned, however these require (relatively) large base stations and/or antennas/dishes which would not be feasible for a hiking trip.

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  • (+1) Inmarsat is another big one (I think it's the market leader, certainly among GEO constellations).
    – Relaxed
    Feb 12, 2021 at 9:34
  • Currently StarLink is explicitly only for a defined service location and does not support mobile operations travel.stackexchange.com/a/162486/6188
    – Peter M
    Feb 12, 2021 at 14:14
  • Note that the satellite SMS systems have limited numbers of messages with high overage costs on most plans. Feb 14, 2021 at 2:27
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Yes, there are pocket wifi or MiFi available on the market, that could help you with your streams. You can find a variety of models in amazon or other sites if you want more options. Make sure to check the range that they have.

Cheers!

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    OP will be in an area without phone connections, certainly not the high level connection needed for life streaming.
    – Willeke
    Feb 11, 2021 at 17:53
  • OP is asking about areas with bad or no cell phone reception. Your suggestions won't work there.
    – Hilmar
    Feb 11, 2021 at 19:09

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