Satellite Phones for Touring

mac_man_luke

Well-Known Member
After having one for bit over a year now the only time iv really felt it necessary is in the desert or similar remote trips.

Everything else its just easier to drive the 20km to mobile signal unless of course your a solo traveller then you need one.

Only other time would be in a serious / medical emergency but i don't imagine it being a simple process.
 

Chatty

Well-Known Member
After having one for bit over a year now the only time iv really felt it necessary is in the desert or similar remote trips.
Everything else its just easier to drive the 20km to mobile signal unless of course your a solo traveller then you need one.
Only other time would be in a serious / medical emergency but i don't imagine it being a simple process.

Yeah, after Trish had her heart attack a few weeks ago we're both nervous about the medical side of things - but everything else (especially business) can wait until we're back in mobile range!
 

Grant McLean

New Member
https://www.telstra.com.au/content/dam/tcom/personal/mobile-phones/pdf/mobilesat.pdf
This spells out everything including costs with using a telstra mobile sim (gsm) in a Iridium Satellite Phone.
Go to Section 7

G'day, my reading of this sub-paragraph seems to indicate that the Iridium 9505 sat phone I have will only give me the same coverage as my GSM 4G phone, so I fail to see the advantage of using a GSM sim card in a sat phone if there is no more coverage than that which is available through the GSM network via a conventional phone.
I will be grateful if any reader who has a different interpretation of the sub-paragraph could share their views with me. I have a bull-bar mounted GSM long range antenna which has given me access to GSM and GSM Internet where a viable signal is unavailable through the GSM telephone handset only.
During our many ventures out of normal GSM range into tiger country, whilst having a two year sat phone contract with Telstra, we made one call only, [checking on the health of a grandchild], so another contract would not be viable in the normal course of events, based on previous requirements.
I will be grateful for members comment.
Thanx
Grant
 

Chatty

Well-Known Member
G'day, my reading of this sub-paragraph seems to indicate that the Iridium 9505 sat phone I have will only give me the same coverage as my GSM 4G phone, so I fail to see the advantage of using a GSM sim card in a sat phone if there is no more coverage than that which is available through the GSM network via a conventional phone.
I will be grateful if any reader who has a different interpretation of the sub-paragraph could share their views with me. I have a bull-bar mounted GSM long range antenna which has given me access to GSM and GSM Internet where a viable signal is unavailable through the GSM telephone handset only.
During our many ventures out of normal GSM range into tiger country, whilst having a two year sat phone contract with Telstra, we made one call only, [checking on the health of a grandchild], so another contract would not be viable in the normal course of events, based on previous requirements.
I will be grateful for members comment.
Thanx
Grant
100% correct Grant - to get satellite coverage you need to have a satellite SIM card in the phone - as that is what is needed to maintain the Iridium phone number allocation. The only reason to put your GSM card in the sat phone is to simply use the sat phone as single handset - but I can't see the point in that, especially given the cost and the hassle in changing SIM cards in and out. You simply wouldn't buy a sat phone to use as a GSM phone.
My experience in remote areas with the large vehicle mount GSM antennas is that they might get you another 20km or so range, but they are certainly not going to give you communication in the middle of the Simpson Desert or on Cape York or in the middle of the Nullarbor, or in any of the millions of other places in this great country outside of GSM coverage.

With regards to viability of the contract - that's something for you to decide. To me the insurance value of having the sat phone is well worth the cost. If you choose to look at it on the basis of "I've only used it once in two years" then it will never be justifiable. If you choose to look at it along the same lines as having car insurance, carrying recovery gear, tool kit, extra fuel, extra water, extra food and so on for the "just in case we get stuck" times then you wouldn't be without it.
As someone once said - for the doubters, no justification is ever enough, for the believers no justification is needed.

You obviously have grand kids, so you are in the same age group as Trish and I, so here is something to ponder...
Seven weeks ago Trish and I thought we were in pretty good health, medically nothing to worry about, all clears from our GP and certainly not candidates for an emergency hospital admission. Six weeks ago Trish woke up complaining of chest pains - I rushed her to the hospital where she was diagnosed with a heart attack and had two stents put in her coronary artery.
She's now fine, but had that attack happened in the middle of nowhere and we hadn't had reliable emergency communication then I would be visiting her grave right now, not waking up next to her in bed.
How much value do I now place on having a sat phone? To me it's pretty well priceless.
 

letsgoplaces

Active Member
We were living in a remote community and qualified for the 80% rebate. After deciding whether to go with Iridium or an Isatphone pro, I went with the Isat because it is prepaid. To properly follow 'the rules' of the rebate, the phone needed to be kept in constant service for 2 years. I got one of the last $50 prepaid cards with a 2 year expiry :D
The phone has been used once so far, fortunately not medical.
When I go on a trip, I whack on $70 credit which lasts for 90 days, and it's sad that I only get to do that about every 12 - 14 months

Cheers
John
 

Grant McLean

New Member
100% correct Grant - to get satellite coverage you need to have a satellite SIM card in the phone - as that is what is needed to maintain the Iridium phone number allocation. The only reason to put your GSM card in the sat phone is to simply use the sat phone as single handset - but I can't see the point in that, especially given the cost and the hassle in changing SIM cards in and out. You simply wouldn't buy a sat phone to use as a GSM phone.
My experience in remote areas with the large vehicle mount GSM antennas is that they might get you another 20km or so range, but they are certainly not going to give you communication in the middle of the Simpson Desert or on Cape York or in the middle of the Nullarbor, or in any of the millions of other places in this great country outside of GSM coverage.

With regards to viability of the contract - that's something for you to decide. To me the insurance value of having the sat phone is well worth the cost. If you choose to look at it on the basis of "I've only used it once in two years" then it will never be justifiable. If you choose to look at it along the same lines as having car insurance, carrying recovery gear, tool kit, extra fuel, extra water, extra food and so on for the "just in case we get stuck" times then you wouldn't be without it.
As someone once said - for the doubters, no justification is ever enough, for the believers no justification is needed.

You obviously have grand kids, so you are in the same age group as Trish and I, so here is something to ponder...
Seven weeks ago Trish and I thought we were in pretty good health, medically nothing to worry about, all clears from our GP and certainly not candidates for an emergency hospital admission. Six weeks ago Trish woke up complaining of chest pains - I rushed her to the hospital where she was diagnosed with a heart attack and had two stents put in her coronary artery.
She's now fine, but had that attack happened in the middle of nowhere and we hadn't had reliable emergency communication then I would be visiting her grave right now, not waking up next to her in bed.
How much value do I now place on having a sat phone? To me it's pretty well priceless.

I wonder if I could use my expired sat phone sim, in my sat phone, would I be able to make an emergency call eg; 000, via my sat phone, as I am currently able to log on to the Iridium network ?
As an old timer, I understand and appreciate your reasoning in respect to health issues, we are similarly aware, I am trying to pre-empt an issue which MAY occur, however do it in a fashion which is not going to break the bank.
Ta
Grant
 

Chatty

Well-Known Member
I wonder if I could use my expired sat phone sim, in my sat phone, would I be able to make an emergency call eg; 000, via my sat phone, as I am currently able to log on to the Iridium network ?
As an old timer, I understand and appreciate your reasoning in respect to health issues, we are similarly aware, I am trying to pre-empt an issue which MAY occur, however do it in a fashion which is not going to break the bank.
Ta
Grant
My understanding is that the phone will work even without a SIM in it for emergency (000 and 112) calls, so I imagine it would work with an expired SIM in it.

For what it's worth (and having worked in the emergency services for quite a while) I would not want to be relying on a triple 0 operator knowing where Poepell Corner is or knowing how to handle Lat/Long locations. These operators do their best, but a lot don't cope well with locations outside populated areas.
You will also potentially wind up in a three way conversation trying to coordinate emergency medical care from RFDS through a triple 0 operator - I would rather deal direct than get engaged in a game of Chinese Whispers.

You will also have the problem that if your call drops out (which all sat phones do) the operator won't be able to call you back - you will have to call in again and there's a 99.9999% chance that you will get another operator, potentially in another state, and have to start from scratch with your problem.

You obviously own the sat phone outright by now - so go with a prepaid card whenever you travel, if you don't want to pay a monthly contract. The down side will be that you will get a new phone number each time and people calling you will have to dial an international number. The cards are also quite expensive (the best I could find was US $160 and was only valid for a month - other people may know of better deals) which makes the month to month plan look better.

If you don't want to pay the $30 a month to keep your own phone, then hire one when you need it. The hire companies may even be interested in buying your old phone.
 

Grant McLean

New Member
My understanding is that the phone will work even without a SIM in it for emergency (000 and 112) calls, so I imagine it would work with an expired SIM in it.

For what it's worth (and having worked in the emergency services for quite a while) I would not want to be relying on a triple 0 operator knowing where Poepell Corner is or knowing how to handle Lat/Long locations. These operators do their best, but a lot don't cope well with locations outside populated areas.
You will also potentially wind up in a three way conversation trying to coordinate emergency medical care from RFDS through a triple 0 operator - I would rather deal direct than get engaged in a game of Chinese Whispers.

You will also have the problem that if your call drops out (which all sat phones do) the operator won't be able to call you back - you will have to call in again and there's a 99.9999% chance that you will get another operator, potentially in another state, and have to start from scratch with your problem.

You obviously own the sat phone outright by now - so go with a prepaid card whenever you travel, if you don't want to pay a monthly contract. The down side will be that you will get a new phone number each time and people calling you will have to dial an international number. The cards are also quite expensive (the best I could find was US $160 and was only valid for a month - other people may know of better deals) which makes the month to month plan look better.

If you don't want to pay the $30 a month to keep your own phone, then hire one when you need it. The hire companies may even be interested in buying your old phone.

The Telstra Shop [Business & Sat Phone] quoted me $90.00/month as a casual user, I am going to do the numbers on a $30.00/month plan, I appreciate your input.
Thank you.
Grant
 

mac_man_luke

Well-Known Member
Telstra sim 3G/4G post paid sim does work, i have done it as a test just mega expensive including incoming calls.

Iridium phones are only satellite they don't have a GSM/3G transmitter/receiver.

Telstra are not exactly open about this though as they want to sell a $30+ / month plan to you

Was not a bad option when they had the $5 a month casual plan so no worry about incoming calls.
 

Chatty

Well-Known Member
The Telstra Shop [Business & Sat Phone] quoted me $90.00/month as a casual user, I am going to do the numbers on a $30.00/month plan, I appreciate your input.
Thank you.
Grant
I know there is a $35 plan, 'cos that's what I'm on [my bad - I thought it was $30] - on their web page it says "Minimum $840 for 24 months" - and I got mine through my local Business Shop.

The $90 plan they have quoted you is including purchasing a handset - which you don't need to do. You should be able to do it all over the phone with them 1800 632 995

https://www.telstra.com.au/coverage-networks/mobile-satellite#plans
 

Chatty

Well-Known Member
Hey Grant Mclean,
If you want the cheapest option a telstra mobile sim with international roaming turned on is the go.

Unless you're now caught in the trap of micro SIMs to fit the new smart phones - which don't fit the sat phones which need a larger SIM. It's the techo version of Toyota changing from 6 studs to 5...
Telstra used to do "duplicate" SIMS, not sure if they still do though.
 

Les PK Ranger

4x4 Earth Contributer
On the recent Simmo trip we had a couple of sat phones in the group, one (Iridium) I borrowed from a fellow Earther (ta Luke) and another party in the group (Inmarsat).

Both interestingly had the ability to received text messages from normal mobiles, so if there was any sort of emergency at home, they could message us to call them (less cost overall).
The Inmarsat can even received email to text.

We just turned the phones on for a few minutes every couple of days to check for messages, which thankfully there were none.
 

Albynsw

Well-Known Member
I have an Inmarsat phone and you can definitely dial 000 without credit

Have used ours on a couple of occasions seeking mechical assistance and forward ordering parts
And one medical emergency requiring the RFDS
They are a must have item for remote travel IMO
 

cookie64

4x4 Earth Contributer
Yeah, after Trish had her heart attack a few weeks ago we're both nervous about the medical side of things - but everything else (especially business) can wait until we're back in mobile range!

Geez mate, hope she's on the mend, the Sat Phone certainly is a must for that reason alone.

cheers
 

Chatty

Well-Known Member
Geez mate, hope she's on the mend, the Sat Phone certainly is a must for that reason alone.

cheers
Thanks Cookie - yes, she is on the mend, after panicking me, a rushed trip to Flinders and two stents in her right coronary artery within a couple of hours.
Arterial narrowing is a side effect of the leukemia medication Trish was on - sort of a case of the treatment killing you slightly slower than the disease would have.

We were planning on getting a sat phone anyway, but this little scare really put the wind up us and all I could think of was what would have happened had her attack had happened in Earnie Whoop Whoop without effective emergency communication.
A few years ago it would have been a HF radio being fitted to the Paj, but I think the sat phones are a great option and I really can't understand how anyone thinks they are expensive for the peace of mind and security they give you.
 

cookie64

4x4 Earth Contributer
Thanks Cookie - yes, she is on the mend, after panicking me, a rushed trip to Flinders and two stents in her right coronary artery within a couple of hours.
Arterial narrowing is a side effect of the leukemia medication Trish was on - sort of a case of the treatment killing you slightly slower than the disease would have.

We were planning on getting a sat phone anyway, but this little scare really put the wind up us and all I could think of was what would have happened had her attack had happened in Earnie Whoop Whoop without effective emergency communication.
A few years ago it would have been a HF radio being fitted to the Paj, but I think the sat phones are a great option and I really can't understand how anyone thinks they are expensive for the peace of mind and security they give you.

One of the guys that came away with us had stents put in just before we went away, he had his own Sat Phone & HF and was with us 3 who are all 1st Aiders and I always carry Disprin for that reason - I know I know, we are not supposed to give medication but out there what are the options and at least you are in contact with a Doctor who can advise, you can never treat anyone's health lightly. I also carry Broad Spectrum Anti-Biotics which saved me a lot of pain when I got a nasty infection from a Spinifex spike

I do hope that Trish beats the demon, I have a few friends that have beaten it so fingers crossed for you guys

cheers
 
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