Satellite Messengers: Deciphering Reliability

Read any discussion about emergency beacons in the wilderness and you’ll see a common set of claims. People will point out how one device is more reliable than another, list examples of messages that failed to send (or eventually were sent after a long delay), and a few are sure to chime in about how PLBs are the ultimate in reliability.

I have my own preferences, of course, and like to ensure my perceptions are grounded in reasonable fact. There have been a few technological improvements over the years, as well as a few details not immediately apparent at first glance. I can, for example, discuss the advantages of the Iridium network over the GlobalStar design, but is that really why users of one network might see greater reliability?

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