The Offshore Voyaging Reference Site

Original Iridium GO! Still a Better Deal Than Exec

There’s a headline to provoke screams and tearing of hair.

After all, the new Iridium GO! Exec is 40 times faster than the original GO! and only twice the price, so it’s gotta be the the better deal…right?

And you can get unlimited data with the original GO! from lots of places for $154.95/month and unlimited for the Exec from PredictWind for $169.95, just a $15/month difference.

So at this point you must be thinking that the old fart who runs this site has finally and completely slipped his cams when writing that headline.


As so often in these things, the reason that GO! original is still a better deal than Exec is in the fine print.

Look at the screenshots at the top of this tip, and see if you can spot it.

You got it, with the original GO! unlimited plan you get unlimited data minutes for:

  • Email
  • Snapshots of any page on the internet: news, stock prices, whatever.
  • Weather maps unavailable from PredictWind.
  • Really vital weather information unavailable from PredictWind—more in an upcoming article.

Anything we want, any time we want, as much as we want.

Sure it’s slow, but so what, we don’t have to stand there and watch it, at least if we use decent software to run it.

We ran this business, including a ton of email, when out of cell phone range on the original GO! unlimited data plan, and downloaded a bunch of weather data, without ever needing to use more than an hour or so a day.

But with GO! Exec the “unlimited” is restricted to PredictWind data only!

Yup, the way I read it, after we buy the “unlimited” package for $169.95/month, we need to then add a data minutes package if we want anything other than stuff from PredictWind.

And it’s not even clear to me that we would be able to get our email under the “unlimited”.

So sounds to me like we are going to need to buy say 10MB (not going to go far) for another $40 if we want to venture out of the PredictWind world, and maybe even if we want our email within it.

And note they are charging data by the megabit, not connected time, so the much vaunted speed of Exec is not going to help.

Begs the question: when is unlimited, limited?

To make this worse, in their Exec FAQ, PredictWind claims that the unlimited package avoids “bill shock”. But what happens if you don’t buy an added data package, or do and go over it? Don’t know for sure, but I also don’t want to be the one to find out!

My Recommendations:

  1. Stick with original Iridium GO! and the unlimited plan.
    • I know for sure that package is…unlimited. In several years of use for anything I wanted, including sending super-stupid grinning selfies to my daughter, there was not one single added invoice over and above the unlimited monthly charge.
  2. If you really need a fast solution? Go Starlink as well.
    • Exec, even 40 times faster, is way too slow to actually do anything useful on the internet.
  3. And if you need a solution to take into the liferaft, something Exec does do better than the original GO!, buy a secondhand Iridium handset.
    • There should be plenty around at good prices from people who bought limited unlimited.

Limited Unlimited?

One final thought:

It would be nice if Iridium and PredictWind would be a bit more careful with the word “unlimited”. On this page they specifically write “Unlimited Data”.

Look it up in the dictionary, guys. The way I read it, “unlimited” means without limits or restrictions. And “data” means all digital data, at least to me, not just that originating at PredictWind.

I just can’t see how you can be a little bit unlimited, or a little limited when you’re unlimited…OK, I’ll stop.

More on how we downloaded and analyzed the weather using the original GO!

This Online Book needs updating. It’s on my list for this winter. That said, the fundamentals are still relevant and can save you a lot of weather-related grief.

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Robert Cart

For $250/month when far offshore anywhere and only $120mo when fixed for unlimited high speed internet, Starlink is just too amazing to even consider Iridium go at all. Can’t take starlink into the raft? The DIY people are building kits for even that. For me, I’ll take my iPhone with a solar charger into the raft. That way I get GPS and free global emergency satellite messaging. RIP Iridium.

Robert Cart

Thanks for the reply. While I too wouldn’t take a Starlink into a raft, the compact portable waterproof kits people are making do make this possible. IridiumGo at $170/month is way too expensive on top of Starlink and I’d never choose it first. I’m thrilled at being able to conduct global emergency text messaging from my iPhone (with a good case and solar charger) from anywhere in the world.

Thomas Stokes

The original iridiumGo used to have a “standby” mode for around $10/mo which could be used in the off-season, but this is no longer available. There seems to be an option to turn off completely and buy a new SIM card after each off-season, but I have asked the vendor Ocens for info, and they seem as confused as I am about this option. I wonder how the Off-season options compare with Iridium Exec?

Neil McCubbin

Agreed that the GO Extreme is a poor buy for cruising sailors
After five years of being pleased with the original GO, paying for the unlimited date every month we were sailing, we see it a now outdated.
We head back to Milvina in Hiva Oa this week, with a Starlink kit and a Garmin Messenger, the smallest and cheapest of the Garmin inReach gadgets.
We expect to use Starlink for 99% of communications, but see the Garmin as a back-up and usable in a life raft
The Garmin has text capability, but not voice. It also tracks us every ten minutes, so will replace our GO tracking for friends.
The Garmin Messenger costs $45 Cdn (say $30US) per month for unlimited tracking, SOS service like the GO, and 40 texts. Additional texts cost a little

Robert Cart mentioned the iPhone for emergency satellite communication. I understand that it uses the GlobalStar satellites, which cover only part of the world. Also, I think Apple currently offers service in the US only.

Paul Browning

I am one who is paying the $150 or $170 a month for Iridium AND another $200 a month for Starlink, but trying to get my head around it all does my head in. I also have a Cell Fi Go to increase my cell phone coverage which works brilliantly as well as VHF and HF. For someone trying to get away from it all that’s a lot of comms!

The only reason I keep Iridium Go is to enable the PredictWind Tracker, which my family and friends like, but it’s a big cost ($265 AUD) that I shake my head at every time it comes out of the bank account and this article now gives me added impetus to find a much cheaper alternative tracker. I have always found Iridium such a ridiculously poor service that I can scarce believe people, including me, continue to pay for it. And how John managed to conduct a business with it is a complete mystery to me. It takes me 10-15 minutes to download 300 – 400 Kb (ie not 3-4 Mb) of Predict Wind weather data, something my phone does in about a nanosecond. It’s seriously like expecting people to step out of their Mercedes back to a Model T Ford!

I’ve never been persuaded by the argument that you can take your Iridium Go into the liferaft with you. That’s why I have several EPIRBS and a waterproof VHF to take with me in the raft if ever the need arises. And usually the first thing anywhere near the liferaft will be an aircraft which will communicate via open channel VHF, rendering a satphone of any description completely useless. The notion you would take your Starlink into the raft is too ridiculous for further contemplation. Are you also going to take a 12v battery and inverter to power it!

But my main question is what’s the best tracker for the family to keep tabs on us at the most sensible price?

Peter Sweitzer

Hi Paul, you might find the free app No Foreign Land useful for your tracking and blog.

Andrew Armstrong

One other Exec con is you have to use a different external antennae than the original GO!. I have a steel boat so external antennae is important.