Connecting to Sailmail via an Iridium Handset

Iridium provides a "PPP Data Service" for their handsets. This is a direct-to-internet connection through the Iridium internet gateway. The advantages are simplicity (no fancy compression or proxy-servers), no other internet service-provider required, and faster setup. This service is perfect for checking mail with SailMail's direct internet access (telnet) window. This document describes how to set up an Iridium PPP connection to connect to Sailmail.

NOTE: The USB drivers for the 9555/9575 handsets are not compatible with Windows-10.
We have a solution, contact us at for details.

Prior to using your Iridium phone for a PPP internet connection for the first time, you need to set up a "Standard 19200 bps" modem driver on your computer, and then set up a dial-up networking connection for the Iridium-PPP service. These steps are both described in detail below for Windows 7, 8 and 10:

First step: Install a Modem-Driver:

1. Close all applications (at least any that use internet).
2. Open Windows Control Panel (Windows search is your friend here).
3. Set "View by" to large or small icons, then double-click on "Phone and Modem Options".
4. Select the "Modems" tab and click "Add"...
5. Check "Don't detect my modem; I will select it from a list" and then click "Next".
6. Select "Standard Modem Types", then "Standard 19200 bps Modem" and then click "Next".
7. Click the "Selected ports" button and highlight the COM Port that you will use with the Iridium phone (e.g., COM1). Click Next, then Finish.
8. Now go back to Control Panel, open "Device Manager", find "Modems" and expand that, and find the "Standard 19200 bps Modem" that you just created. Double-click that to open "Properties", and select the "Advanced" tab.
9. In the "Extra initialization commands" box, enter: AT+CBST=71,0,1
10. Double-check that, then click OK, then close Device manager.

(Note: You can also access the modem properties box via "Phone and Modems", but the "Extra initialization commands" box is disabled. Go through Device Manager instead).

Second step: Configure a Dial-Up Networking connection

1. Open Windows Control Panel and select "Network and Sharing Center".
2. Click "Set up a new connection or network" and then click Next.
3. Select "Connect to the Internet" and click Next.
4. If you see "You are already connected to the internet", click on "Set up a new connection anyway".
5. If you see "No, Create a new connection" select that, unless you are checking settings of an existing connection.
6. Click on "Dial-up", and (if prompted) select "Standard 19200 bps Modem".
7. In the "Dial-up phone number" box enter 008816000025 (see "troubleshooting" below)
For User name and Password enter "none" (type that in, without the quotes),
Check the "remember password" box.
For "Connection Name" enter "IridiumPPP"
8. Then click "Connect", Windows will try to connect-- click "Skip" to continue.
9. Click Close and return to Network Center.
10. Click "Change Adaptor Settings" on the left, find "IridiumPPP" and right-click and select "Properties". (Or, open the connection and then click the "Properties" button).
11. On the first tab make sure "Use dialing rules" is not checked, and click "Configure"
12. Then click "Configure", and check all three hardware features, then click OK.
13. On the "Networking" tab, un-check all items except "Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IPv4)". (If any items won't un-check, that is OK).
14. Click OK to close.

To connect manually, click on the Networks icon in the system-tray (lower-right corner of the screen), select "IridiumPPP" and select "Connect". Repeat to disconnect. You can also get to the connections properties from this window.

The following details are important:
1) Don't forget the "Extra initialization string" in the first section, this is critical.
2) You need the COM-port number associated with the phone.
(The 9555 phone installs as a COM port, use the driver CD supplied with the phone).
3) You must be logged into Windows with Administrator privileges.

Once all that is done, open Airmail's "Internet" window ("lightning-bolt" button). Check the "dial first" box in the Telnet window, and select the "Iridium PPP" connection, and make sure that the "hang up" box is also checked. In recent versions of Airmail the Telnet-window is already set up, just select "Server1" (or WRD719). Also be sure to select "Set up dedicated route", this will block other programs from trying to "hijack" your Iridium connection.

To check mail, click Airmail's "Internet" button (or go to Modules menu, Internet-access), and click the green "connect" button. Airmail will dial the phone, contact the server, and exchange mail, and disconnect.


Remember that the Iridium antenna must be outdoors, with a clear view of the sky. The best antenna is a proper fixed-mount Iridium marine antenna, not cheap but strongly recommended if you are serious about it working reliably. The next-best is the small "hockey-puck" car-style antenna, IF it is stuck to a piece of metal (e.g. a car, or a metal pie-tin 8"/20cm or larger). It is meant to work on a car roof, and needs the metal ground-plane. The phone's antenna also works (as a third choice), IF it is above-decks with a clear view and oriented vertically.

Also remember that Iridium connections (voice or data) are relayed from satellite-to-satellite to reach an earth station. Your phone shows the signal strength to the first satellite only. If the next satellite is too far, or congested, then the connection will stall or be dropped. Unlike radio, this uncertainty is unpredictable and can be frustrating.

If the phone doesn't connect at all, check the signal and then check the modem and connection settings above.
If the phone connects but you cannot connect to SailMail then check the internet settings below. You must be using port-50.
If you do not have an Internet/Telnet window at all then go to Airmail's Tools menu, Options window, Modules tab, and check the box to the left of "Telnet Client". Click OK.

To check your Telnet settings first open the Telnet window (click the "Internet" button or go to Airmail's Modules menu and select Internet or Telnet Client). Make sure "SailMail" is selected if you have also configured Airmail for ham use. Select "Server1" (or WRD719) and click "Settings", or if not found then click "New".
Check the following settings:
remote callsign: Server1 or WRD719
remote host: (see ** note)
Port: 50
TImeout: (blank)
Local callsign: (your SailMail/marine callsign)
Password: (your SailMail internet password, Case-Sensitive!).
Click OK to save settings.

** Note: For quickest access via Iridium, use Server1, make sure the port is "50", and enter the numeric IP-address "" instead of ""-- this saves a few seconds. But remember that this address may change if we need to shift servers-- so if you cannot connect then enter the "" and note the address which is shown when you connect. (Don't include the quotes shown here). The backup servers are (WHV382) and (WQAB964), all using port 50.

If you want to initiate a PPP Data call manually, open the Dial-Up Networking window and open the "Iridium PPP" dial-up connection and click "dial". And don't forget to disconnect when you are finished!

Cheers, Jim
(revised 2016-03-02)