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SatRunner vs ECT-LITE: Choosing the Right Communications Trailer

When it comes to choosing a deployable communications unit, you have quite a few thing to think about. Rapid deployable, small trailer, or a trailer with interior workstations? Satellite internet, cellular internet, or both? What about a lighting system, or cameras? Do you need a mesh network or femtocell? The options are practically endless. Fortunately, there are a few companies simplifying the process. MobilSat is proud to offer the SatRunner for Wi-Fi alongside our in-house line of emergency communications trailers. Between these two offerings, your organization can harness the power of satellite or cellular wherever you happen to need it.

The SatRunner Communications Trailer

The SatRunner for Wi-Fi excels in areas that have very limited or no connectivity. When purchased with the base satellite antenna, the Winegard WV-750A, fast and reliable high-speed internet can be acquired in minutes. The SatRunner establishes a local area voice and data network supporting Wi-Fi, mobile broadband, VoIP, RoIP, CBRS/PLTE, and many IP devices, and can be field-upgraded to a Cell-On-Wheels (COW). Boasting a much smaller frame than the ECT-LITE, the SatRunner can be carried in the back of vehicles and can be stored practically anywhere.

The SatRunner for Wi-Fi specializes in emergency communication and disaster response

The ECT-LITE Communications Trailer

The ECT-LITE is the smallest of the communications trailers offered by Mobil Satellite Technologies. It is fully self-contained, with a built-in generator when there is no power source or a power cable when plugging in is an option. The ECT-LITE provides reliable satellite, cellular, or both from wherever you go. Deploying can be done in minutes, and packing up is as simple as turning off the systems, raising the side supports, and attaching the hitch. While there is a base model, most customers customize a unit to fit the needs of their organization. These customizations can include pneumatic masts, mesh networks, upgraded antenna systems, and more.

profile image of ECT-LITE communications trailer
The ECT-LITE communications trailer with a DataSat 1200 satellite antenna

Though the base unit does not include cellular, our most popular upgrade includes a cellular router to harness the power of both networks. Femtocell is also common, allowing teams to continue making calls in areas where cellular is down, or mesh networks to allow for a wide area hotspot to be created for remote teams. When security is a concern, pneumatic camera systems can be included as well.

Pros and Cons of the SatRunner and ECT-LITE

Both units are great communications trailers in their own right. Depending on the priorities of your organization, one may make more sense for your team. Let’s look at some of the main factors and see which unit will best meet your needs.

Customization Options

Both the SatRunner and the ECT-LITE are customizable, with many options available for different satellite antennas, cellular routers, and various upgrades. While the ECT-LITE can be customized in almost every regard- we have our own fabrication shop in the back of our facility- the SatRunner is a bit more restrictive in terms of available customizations. The base brands used for the SatRunner include Winegard for the satellite antenna, Cradlepoint for the cellular router, and Honda for the generator. MobilSat uses the DataSat product line for the ECT-LITE, with Peplink being used for the cellular router and Honda for the generator.

A customized ECT-LITE with a mast-mounted camera system

Both communications trailers have base pricing, with custom quotes available depending on what customizations are being requested. If larger units are needed, the MobilSat ECT-10, ECT-20, or ECT-14 may be the best option. Each of these three are much more robust communications trailers, with the ECT-14 and ECT-20 featuring interior workstations.

Total Cost and Turnaround Time of SatRunner and ECT-LITE

The ECT-LITE has a much lower base cost with a starting price of only $29,000. The SatRunner is comparatively expensive with a base price of $59,275. Though the starting price of the ECT-LITE is much lower, the cost of both systems changes drastically with product upgrades and customizations. One reason for the increased cost is the choice of satellite antenna. MobilSat uses our in-house product line, the DataSat, and pairs the antennas with our privately-managed iDirect network. The SatRunner uses a Winegard WV-750A, a fantastic satellite internet antenna that works on the Viasat network.

Turnaround time for both units is somewhat variable, but the SatRunner is usually a bit quicker. This depends on current inventory, however, as well as any issues with the supply chain. The MobilSat ECT-LITE fleet is constantly rotating, meaning that we occasionally have some ready to immediately ship or may have a turnaround time of a few months. For example, we currently have a custom ECT-14 trailer available for immediate delivery, but that same vehicle would usually be a 6-8 month lead time. SatRunners are usually available to ship within 6-8 weeks from the date the order is placed, but this timeframe depends on requested customizations and any supply chain issues.

Our custom ECT-14 communications trailer with pneumatic mast, Sidewinder PTZ camera, and LED lights

Other Options for Emergency Communications

If you need an emergency communications trailer that is a bit more comprehensive, try the ECT-10 or the ECT-20. Both come with internal workstations and have even more opportunities for customization than our ECT-LITE or the SatRunner. If you need very low-speed connectivity and don’t plan on using much data, a Hughes BGAN terminal or Cobham Explorer BGAN may be a good option. Connectivity is limited and data is very expensive, but for simple connectivity it is a perfect portable solution. For simple phone connectivity, equip your team with an Inmarsat IsatPhone 2 or an Iridium 9555. Both of those satellite phones are top-of-the-line and offer exceptional durability and battery life. You can even go one step further and get the Iridium GO!, a satellite hotspot that pairs to a cell phone via Bluetooth and provides calling, texting, emailing, weather checking, light data use, and SOS.

Of course, you can always equip your current vehicle with a mobile satellite internet antenna. The DataSat 845 and the DataSat 1200 are the most affordable antennas in their respective classes, but we also offer the whole range of C-COM mobile antennas, Winegard mobile antennas, and AVL mobile antennas as well. All of the antennas we offer are one-click auto-deploying and installed on most large trucks or trailers.

The Final Word on Emergency Communications Trailers

Both the ECT-LITE and the SatRunner are fantastic emergency communication trailers. If your organization chooses either one, they will be well-positioned in the event of an emergency. Depending on some of the finer points of your organization’s needs and emergency preparedness strategy, one trailer or the other may be a better choice. If you’d like to discuss more in-depth about either trailer, give our team a call or chat with us using the blue bubble in the bottom right of your screen.

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