The above information refers in each case to the center of the country / region.
For Thuraya and Inmarsat we have indicated the elevation angle to the satellite and the azimuth. The flatter the satellite is above the horizon, the more difficult the reception will be depending on topography and buildings. This should clarify our classification. For fixed installations, the elevation angle is not crucial as long as the antenna has a clear view to the satellite.
Iridium has orbiting satellites. Here the proximity to the equator plays the decisive role, because at the equator the satellite density of the Iridium network is lowest. On the sea, however, this is negligible because there is a clear view all around, even to satellites located flat above the horizon.
For the countries Kazakhstan, Mongolia and North China in mountain regions an Iridium phone is the better choice, because due to the topography a free line of sight to the Inmarsat or Thuraya satellite is not continuously given.
Satellite communication in China:
Information from March 2018: While some online sources says visitors are banned from bringing satellite phones into China, advice on the Chinese Consulate in Toronto website, though dating from 2010, says they are permitted, provided licences are obtained. China’s International Press Centre gives details on the application process for media organisations.