Inmarsat plans/000 calls?

#1
We are about to head around Australia for 1 year (wife, I and 8yo twins). Plan is to go pretty remote, so we want a sat phone in case of a "tread on a snake type " type situation to call 000. Otherwise it will live in the back of the car turned off.

I have an Inmarsat Pro handset (just upgraded firmware to latest) with no SIM and I am currently looking into plans.

Question is about the pre-paid cards - can I get a SIM and a pre-paid card, but keep the card in reserve and start with no active credit? And from what I understand the SIM would then mean that I can make 000 calls if needed, even without activating the card?

Just a bit concerned that the whole pre-paid activation thing would slow down / complicate a call to 000 in an emergency, so if I know we can call straight away (ie turn phone on - get sat lock-on - call) it would be good.

Also any recommendations on best plans at the moment would be appreciated.
 

Albynsw

Well-Known Member
#2
Being able to call 000 is one thing when the need arises but keep in mind other situations that may not warrant 000 but still need assistance particularly if you have young children
There are lots of tines where a phone a friend situation arises like Medical advice if someone is not well but not at emergency status or Mechanical advice, I have found it helpful to ring my mechanic at home for advice when I have an issue or a concern and he can talk me through a temporary repair to keep me going or I can ring the closest town to get some assistance or a tow
If I was in your situation I would spring the few dollars it costs to have an active phone with me
 
#3
That's what the pre-paid card would be for - if I need to call anyone else (and it is too far/unable to get to mobile coverage), then I could activate the prepaid card?
Subscriptions seem to start at $30/month - which will be $400 over the year for something I never expect to use? The alternative of $100 for a use it if I need it seems to make more sense?
 

Tink

Well-Known Member
#4
With my Iridium plan, I have to call the provider to activate the SIM card. Bit hard to call when out of mobile coverage. I think that if the SIM is not activated, the phone throws an error code so useless without an activated SIM.
My advice would be to call a couple of providers and discuss your plans. They may have a solution for you.
Tink
 
#5
Subscriptions seem to start at $30/month - which will be $400 over the year for something I never expect to use? The alternative of $100 for a use it if I need it seems to make more sense?
That's not a lot of money for peace of mind especially when young children are involved..I'd be making sure it was setup and working before I left if I required one....

All the best for your trip....
 

mikehzz

Well-Known Member
#6
If you are going remote with kids I'd have an epirb or similar. Press a button and rescuers are on the way. Then stuff around trying to get a call out on your satphone. I've got an isatphone pro and unless you are fully familiar using it, it can be pretty frustrating. Getting a satelite lock seems to take ages sometimes. In an emergency you are all thumbs and might be up to your arse in helping someone. The emergency beacon is simple and able to be set off by all family members with minimal instructions. Satphones aren't like mobile phones.
 

Ziggy

Well-Known Member
#8
That's what the pre-paid card would be for - if I need to call anyone else (and it is too far/unable to get to mobile coverage), then I could activate the prepaid card?
Subscriptions seem to start at $30/month - which will be $400 over the year for something I never expect to use? The alternative of $100 for a use it if I need it seems to make more sense?
Yes, you buy a voucher (which has a 'shelf life' of one year) and activate it out there when you need to make a call. Then the prepaid call credit expires in 30, 60, 90 etc days depending on its value. With the SIM left in there you still have 000 access.
It's an effective and cheap way of running a satphone for episodic use. Eg I go outback in winter and simply get a 100 unit voucher a few days before departure.

This guy is good to deal with - https://www.satphonesales.com.au/index.php?main_page=page&id=6&zenid=u5ajknvldnp4lss63bnemtima7
No financial interest.
 
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mauriceb

Well-Known Member
#9
I parked my isatphone up due to inmarsat increasing costs . I travel a lot and prefer to have full time connection . No good running out of credit if you require help without setting off all the emergency services using 000. Changed to Thuraya on $15/ month with an Aust mobile number . Don't go to the high country ,so have great reception thru Aust at a low cost with HF back up
 

Ziggy

Well-Known Member
#10
Yes, you buy a voucher (which has a 'shelf life' of one year) and activate it out there when you need to make a call. Then the prepaid call credit expires in 30, 60, 90 etc days depending on its value. With the SIM left in there you still have 000 access.
It's an effective and cheap way of running a satphone for episodic use. Eg I go outback in winter and simply get a 100 unit voucher a few days before departure.

This guy is good to deal with - https://www.satphonesales.com.au/index.php?main_page=page&id=6&zenid=u5ajknvldnp4lss63bnemtima7
No financial interest.
So you get a SIM free (Satphonesales don't charge, others do) and order a voucher .
This is just an emailed code that you activate when needed from the Isatphone Pro keypad. Now your expiry time starts.
You can buy another voucher for prepaid credits to the value you want whenever you've got an internet connection.
You can set up the phone to text your coordinates to defined recipients with a few keystrokes.
If others are going to need to call you it's cheapest if they use Skype - about $2.70 a minute. Or they text you for free and you call them back.
We carry one on our winter trips in case there's an elderly parent gone into a health crisis, and over the years only needed it once, to call RFDS to deal with a crashed motorcyclist on the Birdsville Track.
So I get all the coverage I need for $150 a year.
 

mikehzz

Well-Known Member
#11
Pretty sure inmarsat incoming calls are free (or used to be). The best way I found was to text my wife to say I was connected and then she would call me, then my credits would last heaps longer. Outgoing calls are so many units per 30 seconds and you chew them up pretty quickly.

Edit : Just checked and it's another kick in the arse from Inmarsat. I stopped using it when they hiked the charges and reduced the voucher validity time. Incoming calls are still free in the US but not here it seems.
 
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mauriceb

Well-Known Member
#12
Calling out on an isatphone is based on units per minute not per 30 sec. Calling one is overly expensive like $10 plus per min unless you use a voip service. You can still receive calls, txts ,and emails even if your credit has expired.
 

Albynsw

Well-Known Member
#13
Pretty sure inmarsat incoming calls are free (or used to be). The best way I found was to text my wife to say I was connected and then she would call me, then my credits would last heaps longer. Outgoing calls are so many units per 30 seconds and you chew them up pretty quickly.

Edit : Just checked and it's another kick in the arse from Inmarsat. I stopped using it when they hiked the charges and reduced the voucher validity time. Incoming calls are still free in the US but not here it seems.
What do you use now Mike?
 

Ziggy

Well-Known Member
#14
Calling an Isatphone from a Telstra landline costs about $17 per minute. This is set by Telstra, not Inmarsat.
Some 3rd party users of the Telstra copper network are cheaper but Skype is cheapest of all.
 

mikehzz

Well-Known Member
#16
Calling an Isatphone from a Telstra landline costs about $17 per minute. This is set by Telstra, not Inmarsat.
Some 3rd party users of the Telstra copper network are cheaper but Skype is cheapest of all.
Maybe I had it the wrong way around, it's been a long time? Perhaps I told my wife to text me if she needed to talk and I would call her? That makes more sense at those rates.....sorry for my confusion. :) Anyway, they cheesed me off reducing the validity period of originally 3 years for voucher use.
 

Tink

Well-Known Member
#17
Calling or texting an Iridium sat phone will only cost the caller the same as calling a regular mobile phone in Australia. And realistically these days, that is only a consideration for the very few who still have landlines with call charges, not many I would think, except maybe the elderly.
Tink
 

mauriceb

Well-Known Member
#18
@Tink . Is that because you have an Australian mobile phone number connection to your Satphone with Pivotel otherwise it would be expensive. I guess you guys know that you can get an Aust mobile number on any service Pivotel supported phone .All number are 04xxxxx so others can call you for the cost of a local mobile number or free if they have an unlimited plan. Problem is it's $40/ month on 24 month contract ,calls $1.50 per min plus 40 connection fee. Sms are reasonable at 50 cents and give you $10 worth of free calls per month. Hopefully Globarstar will comeback one day including newer phone models .I was with them for 15 years .Had two Telit 550 s '
 
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