Satellite Phones for Touring

PitPaj

New Member
I'm looking at replacing my mobile phone with a satellite phone once my mobile contract runs out. Does anyone use a satphone and if so which one and which service? What have you found to like or dislike about the phone or service you're using?
 

richardlnsw

Moderator
I have an Isat Pro on the Inmarsat network (think that's right) pre paid. There are different pre paid plans, think my last one I got was $125 for 100 units for 6 months. 1 unit = 1 minute , a text is half a unit. Love it, easy to use and not paying for monthly plans when not using it, it suits my needs. But I certainly wouldn't be getting rid of my standard mobile phone. For people to call a sat phone it is expensive. Mine is my emergency contact for remote areas, otherwise I use my normal phone.
 

Albynsw

Well-Known Member
I have the Inmarsat one as well
These are not a mobile phone substitute you need both

There are some sat phones that you can use your Telstra mobile phone sim card in. They will be more expensive but you are then only paying for one service provider
 

vk1dx

Well-Known Member
Ditto to the above. We chose this phone because it was the only one with pre-paid. For most of the year it sits at home switched off. It's for emergency use only. Not for idle chit chat. All that chit chat stuff can wait until we get home.

Phil
 

Chatty

Well-Known Member
Yep, I'm about to invest and have been trying to decide which way to go. Iridium seems to have far and away the best coverage (but really, do I need coverage for the south pole?) but is also more expensive and I haven't been able to find a pre-paid plan for it, so I would wind up paying monthly charges for a phone I'm not using. I have used Iridium phones previously and the lag on calls was not good either.
Thuraya seems to have good phones and are available on casual plans - but coverage can be restricted - especially over the Americas (but am I likely to use one there?)
INmarsat seems to have better coverage and is also available on casual plans. Both Thuraya and Inmarsat do suffer from the problem of "fixed" satellites where you have to have a clean line of sight from your phne to the satellite - but that's hardly going to be a problem in the scrub.
But you will still need your mobile - the sat phones are too expensive and the voice lag during calls is generally too bad to make them a full time alternative to a ground based mobile.
 

muffin man

Well-Known Member
Have had an iridium for a bit over ten years, 9505A.
We have a dedicated next g phone for trips and the telstra mobile sim is swapped between it and the satphone.
The sim is a $10pm post paid casual plan so at $5 per month per phone it's pretty good value.
You do need to activate international roaming for the telstra mobile sim to be able to access the iridium satellites.
We have made calls from this well away from normal mobile reception to confirm it works.
Calls are not cheap at $4 per minute in and out.
I reckon you can pick up second hand 9505's pretty cheap now, probably under $500.
 
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Grant McLean

New Member
Have had an iridium for a bit over ten years, 9505A. We have a dedicated next g phone for trips and the sim is swapped between it and the satphone. The sim is a $10pm casual plan, pretty good value. I reckon you can pick up second hand 9505's pretty cheap now, probably under $500.
G"Day, I am Two Words, a newbie here. I am wondering if you use your G3/G4 sim card in your 9505A ? I have had the same phone for years and have become sick of pointless payments on a contract where I make one call per year. Is it possible to use the normal G3/G4 Telstra Mobile SIM in the 9505 for emergency calls only ?
Thanks
Two Words [Darwin]
 

Chatty

Well-Known Member
Ok, I have finished contemplating my navel and decided to go with an Iridium 9575 through Telstra.
Down side for me is that it needs to be on a lock in month to month contract, but I can write the cost off through the business so I'm not too worried. Up side is that the cost of the phone will be paid off over 24 months.
Cost wise, the first year would have been about the same whichever way I went - second year the lock in contract is definitely (a lot) more expensive than (say) a Thuraya phone on a pre-paid plan, but I think I will get the use out of it to justify. Third and subsequent years the cost difference lessens, but the Iridium on the lock-in is still more expensive than the others on a pre-paid.

I looked at the Thuraya and others on a month to month lock-in plan and the costs came up pretty close to the Iridium. It looks like the only advantage would be going on a pre-paid plan, but all the pre-paids I found use an international number. If you want an Aussie mobile number it looks like you have to go with a month to month - I see an advantage with that as it lessens the cost of incoming calls quite considerably.

For me, I often wind up working remote so having a sat phone that I can be contacted on is worthwhile, plus our long term plans call for the big round Australia trip, so the phone will get a work out there. Plus this way I don't have to worry about whether or not I have credit and if the SIM is going to be disconnected because of there not being enough credits on the card.

I don't think any of the sat phones and sat networks are perfect - they all have their issues, the Iridium is definitely a full global network, but at a cost. Thuraya, Globalstar, Inmarsat aren't full global, but most probably would cover the areas I am likely to need. So, quick answer - I don't think there is a perfect answer!
 

Chatty

Well-Known Member
G"Day, I am Two Words, a newbie here. I am wondering if you use your G3/G4 sim card in your 9505A ? I have had the same phone for years and have become sick of pointless payments on a contract where I make one call per year. Is it possible to use the normal G3/G4 Telstra Mobile SIM in the 9505 for emergency calls only ?
Thanks
Two Words [Darwin]
When I went into my Telstra business dealer the other day, they did tell me that after the first two years of the contract I could use my regular SIM in the Iridium phone - but I didn't ask if that would work for just G3/G4 areas or if it would work on the Iridium network. It would be worth asking - but in my experience you may need to ring a few times, because a lot of their staff don't seem to understand sat phones. I am waiting for the dealer to ring me back, so I will ask when she does.

Edit (cut and paste from Exploroz site)
Alternatively, there is also a little loophole using Global Roaming that enables Telstra cellular mobile phone users to use their Telstra Next G SIM card (not prepaid) in the current model Iridium 9555 or 9575 handsets (or in the older 9505a and 9505 models). Whilst call charges will be high, and charged for both incoming and outgoing calls, this can be an effective backup for people that simply want the peace of mind knowing they have a satphone handy, without having to pay for a separate satellite phone plan, and giving you the option to pick up an older model second hand handset or to even borrow one.
 
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Albynsw

Well-Known Member
There has been some discussion on this topic over on Exploroz and there is a member there that specialises in selling Sat phones. Dont know anything about him or dealt with him (cant even remember his name) but he seems to know his shit which most phone service provider staff do not
If you do a search over there I am sure you will find him and might get a good deal or at least make an informed decision on your purchase otions.

I seem to recall that one particular service provider was fine for the northern part of Australia but not as good in the south.
 

Swaggie

Moderator
Howdy

There's a lot of info on this subject on exploreoz. Unless you have access to squillions of dollars a sat phone would only be used in an emergency or if you have credits you need to burn..SMS features doesn't cost much on them..

You don't have to go on plans these days to get decent value for money, look at Boost Mobile or Vodapone (yes they have improved} both around $40 to $50 bucks a month and unlimited calls and at least 3 gig of data per month.. It's all prepaid. You can buy $20 options as well..

Cheers
 

eman

Active Member
If it's just for emergency use, how would SPOT or even an EPIRB compare to the sat phone?
 

Chatty

Well-Known Member
If it's just for emergency use, how would SPOT or even an EPIRB compare to the sat phone?
It all depends on what you want...
EPIRBs are an "all or nothing" sort of device - if you activate it you are going to get the full emergency service response, with a sat phone you have the ability to call up to say you just need a new fan belt...
For me, the phone also gives us the opportunity to call up to seek instructions (eg for dealing with a medical emergency) while waiting for the cavalry to arrive.

But, yes, if you aren't going to have a sat phone then an EPIRB would be a great option.
 

Swaggie

Moderator
If it's just for emergency use, how would SPOT or even an EPIRB compare to the sat phone?

Try talking into a Spot or EPIRB devices during an emergency... You can use a Sat Phone how you like, depends on what sort of money you want to blow,......
 

vk1dx

Well-Known Member
Try talking into a Spot or EPIRB devices during an emergency... You can use a Sat Phone how you like, depends on what sort of money you want to blow,......
Very true Swaggie. So they sand out the Army Navy and Airforce when all you need are a few litres of oil to get back to civilisation. I added our calls up that we have made in four years. Just three and only to respond to a panicking cat sitter who set the alarm off and left the key inside. The kids have only used emails so their cost has been zip.
 

cookie64

4x4 Earth Contributer
I bought the Inmarsat Pro from Campersat and have been very happy with it, it is pre-paid so no nasty bill shocks, we use it mainly to call home to let our spouses know not to cash in our life insurances yet :eek: We compared both the Inmarsat and Iridium when we were in the Kimberley and neither had a significant benefit

We also have the HF Radio and call in regularly to VKS so we have 2 modes of long range comms, UHF for short distance, and our mobiles for when we are close to civilisation and lastly an EPIRB for if the sh!t hits the fan and we are in danger. Just remember that it costs $50,000.00 to send out a plane which is a lot of money if all you need is a new suspension component and they can't help you with that but will get you rescued.

cheers
 

Chatty

Well-Known Member
anyone looked at the new sat sleeve?

http://www.satsleeve.com.au/
Looked at it, but the issues I had were:
  • It only fits iPhone 4 (I think) and Galaxy S4 (certain) - they may bring out adaptors for other phones in the future, but there's no guarantee
    I will be replacing my S4 later this year and didn't want the hassle of having to keep it "alive" along with another phone (most likely an S6) just so I could use the sat sleeve
  • There wasn't any price advantage in going for the sat sleeve over a normal sat phone like the XT-Lite - in fact the XT-Lite is cheaper
  • You still need to have a connection plan for the sat sleeve, same as you would for a normal sat phone
Overall, I just couldn't see any advantage to the sat sleeve over buying a normal sat phone, and a few disadvantages like limited fitting options. Plus, with my dedicated sat phone I can lend it to anyone who needs it, but could only do that with the sat sleeve if they had the same mobile phone as me.
I don't see any advantage in having access to all the features of my smart phone on the sat phone - the cost of using the satellite connection is so prohibitive that I only use it for essential calls and definitely not for Facebook, internet, email, social phone calls, etc, etc that I use my mobile for.

To me the sat sleeve is a great idea in theory, but badly let down in execution, especially the high price and the limited fitting options.
 

Munter

Member
fair enough,

We just usually hire one for longer trips. i would rather have one and not need it than need one and not have it
 

Chatty

Well-Known Member
fair enough,

We just usually hire one for longer trips. i would rather have one and not need it than need one and not have it
Thought about hiring, but it doesn't take too many hires to pay for one. Plus I have the advantage of being able to write it off through the business (and use it for business as I do work remote sometimes) so buying was better for me, but it was a close run with hiring.

But spot on - I would rather spend the money and never use it then be a cheapskate, not get one and then get into trouble and not be able to contact anyone.
 
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