There has been some interest in what type of communication equipment we carry and how it all fits together. Here is a short summary of what equipment we carry and for what purpose.
Besides various navigation receivers installed in the aircraft, we have two VHF aviation radios. They represent the prime equipment for communication with air traffic control (ATC) and aircraft air-to-air. Speech quality is typically quite good, but range is line-of-sight only, limiting us to between 100 to 200 kms. In addition, we have installed an HF transceiver specifically for this trip, as it is required by some countries, most notably Russia. While the speech quality of HF is poor, range can be quite far, but this is somewhat unpredictable and we don't consider this radio reliable and hence prefer to rely on additional equipment.
We carry two satellite telephones. One operates on the Iridium network and is installed in the aircraft. It is suitable for use in flight and allows us to maintain contact with ATC, when we're out of VHF range and HF is not working reliably. The second satellite phone operates on the Inmarsat network and will be with us when we leave the aircraft at our various destinations. It will allow us to communicate when there is no other means. This will come in handy when flight plans need to filed or amended. While satellite phones work reasonably well, calls are fairly expensive and hence will be restricted to important stuff only.
Of course we carry our cellphones as well. Vero has her iPhone 4S with her South African SIM card. This means that she will be reachable both on voice as well as for SMSs. I carry a Samsung Android device with dual SIM capability. One SIM is my SA number, ensuring that I am also reachable under my normal number. The 2nd SIM is a special world-wide roaming SIM with data capabilities. While roaming data is still an expensive option, even with this card, it's a reasonable scenario, given that I need to obtain weather and make all sorts of other operational calls.
Besides our notebook machines, we also carry our iPads. Again for weather and flight planning purposes, I have a world-wide roaming SIM in my iPad. I also carry an iPad mini as a backup device, as I will be relying on iPad capability in flight. Vero will rely on WiFi connections for forward planning and social communications.
To keep all these devices working and powered up, we carry a fair selection of interface cable, chargers and power supplies. Specifically, we also carry several USB power packs, capable of storing enough energy to charge our phones more than once or even an iPad in the middle of nowhere. We also carry a battery-driven A4 printer.