Communications when on the road - what will work where you plan to go?

Submitted: Monday, Feb 16, 2015 at 15:10
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A new expanded edition of Grant Nielsen's Staying in Touch on the Road is just out, with up to date communications and a whole lot more information for the Australian traveller. While the previous edition was free, with a donation to RFDS recommended, the latest electronic publication can be downloaded with a $9.97 payment, from which a donation will be made to the RFDS.

This has been produced as a not for profit project in the interests of helping travellers choose devices that will work for them rather than find when they get to a destination that their mobile has no reception, or they have an accident on a drive or walk and cannot call for help. What will you need? How can you make it work better?

This Blog tells more about Staying in Touch on the Road, or you can just go straight to download here.

A must-have for all new travellers, and highly recommend for those wanting to keep informed about the latest technology.

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Reply By: Crusier 91 - Tuesday, Feb 17, 2015 at 08:11

Tuesday, Feb 17, 2015 at 08:11
In non-emergency situations I recommend trying your mobile phone first before using a sat phone. I've been in many remote places that is commonly known for no mobile reception, however I managed to make calls in these places via my mobile when my carrier's satellite is above, saving a small fortune on sat phone calls.
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Follow Up By: Crusier 91 - Tuesday, Feb 17, 2015 at 08:13

Tuesday, Feb 17, 2015 at 08:13
The above only works for Telstra carriers.
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Follow Up By: garrycol - Tuesday, Feb 17, 2015 at 10:31

Tuesday, Feb 17, 2015 at 10:31
Sorry I am not sure I follow that - the mobile phone network as I understand it is land/tower based. Some towers may or may not talk to the satellites to transfer your call but the mobile phone can only talk to the towers - unless of course you have a satphone jacket fitted to the phone in which case it is a Sat phone.

Can you explain your statement that your telstra mobile phone can talk direct to the satellites?

Thanks

Garry
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Follow Up By: Crusier 91 - Tuesday, Feb 17, 2015 at 13:01

Tuesday, Feb 17, 2015 at 13:01
Hi Garry,

I don't have a satphone jacket fitted, neither do the others when travelling remote, but we have carried a sat phone but not always.

There have been certain times when in remote place with common knowledge that there is no mobile phone coverage, however, for example when remote fishing say at Coombra Beach Yalata SA in November, we that are on a Telstra network can get limited coverage only at certain times of a 24hr day, but others on different networks can't.
When I say certain times of the day, I mean those who have a Telstra network check for coverage throughout the day and evening until someone gets a connection then we all call home from our own phones. Coverage will last for a few minutes, enough to tell family we are fine then stops at the same time for all of us.
It's even worked in so called non-coverage areas from the south to the north of the Flinders Ranges.

Whether its pot luck or not, we always seem to be able to get coverage every now and then. Also at these times we are not on the move, we are camped.
Salt Creek SA, from the Murray Mouth to 42 mile has also worked at times.

We always put in down to that a network carriers satellite must be in the midst.
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Follow Up By: TomH - Tuesday, Feb 17, 2015 at 13:10

Tuesday, Feb 17, 2015 at 13:10
All mobile phone communications in Australia are via microwave towers.

They transmit via line of sight through repeaters or via cable.

Only one Thuraya phone does both
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Follow Up By: garrycol - Tuesday, Feb 17, 2015 at 13:33

Tuesday, Feb 17, 2015 at 13:33
Cruiser that has nothing to do with satellites - even though the wavelength used by the mobile network is line of sight in certain circumstances you may get some bounce off the upper layers in the atmosphere, particularly at night. The HF band relies on this as a basic function of its propagation.

The reason this worked with Telstra is because they have a greater coverage out west. You were out of line of sight range of a tower but the atmospherics were just right to bounce the signal. If there had been an Optus tower next to the Telstra one you used then Optus users would have had a signal.

We used to get this on ships where a 40nm radar could pick up ships many more miles away when atmospherics were right.

Is atmospherics not satellites.

Garry
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Follow Up By: Member - bungarra (WA) - Tuesday, Feb 17, 2015 at 14:10

Tuesday, Feb 17, 2015 at 14:10
I travel widely in remote and also areas where a weak mobile signal (Telstra) can at times be intermittent....in that case its usually in the cool of the day/am/pm evening...when you may have limited success

I add that even if you cannot get a signal bar displayed or make a voice call it often can happen that an SMS can get through in both directions .....not sure why but a fact

As for satellites....they are not part of the Telstra land mobile connection as others have said.

cheers
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Follow Up By: Crusier 91 - Tuesday, Feb 17, 2015 at 14:52

Tuesday, Feb 17, 2015 at 14:52
Thanks for the heads up Garry.

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Reply By: TomH - Tuesday, Feb 17, 2015 at 15:21

Tuesday, Feb 17, 2015 at 15:21
Another furphy is that some say NO MATTER WHERE YOU ARE are if you dial 112 you will get the emergency service..

YOU WONT

If there is no signal there is no way you will connect to ANYTHING.

I know some phones will connect with no bars on the screen but that is different to NO signal at all.

If the phone cant talk to the tower nothing will happen.

Thats when you need a satfone or something else.
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Follow Up By: Motherhen - Tuesday, Feb 17, 2015 at 16:07

Tuesday, Feb 17, 2015 at 16:07
Thanks Tom. If a story like that is being circulated it needs to be stopped as it could be the matter of life and death when it means someone has been misinformed and doesn't have the right communications equipment for where they will travel.

The initial reason for Grant commencing the Staying in Touch publication was because he found so many people had been mislead as to the capabilities and coverage of their mobile phones.

112 can be called from a mobile phone in a service area, but 000 will work from mobile, fixed phones and satellite phones alike with no advantage in using 112. They will look for any mobile network, not just your own.

Ideally, key 000 into your phones as the emergency number. As this forum does not have facility to bold or highlight text, I have emphasised the salient point in upper case in the following extract.

From acma.gov.au website:

"Can I call 112 from a mobile phone?

Yes, 112 is a secondary emergency number that can be dialled from mobile phones in Australia.

Special capabilities, including roaming, once only existed when dialling 112, however mobile phones manufactured since January 2002 also provide these capabilities when dialling Triple Zero (000) to access the emergency call service. It is important to realise that if there is no mobile coverage on any network, you will not be able to reach the emergency call service via a mobile phone, regardless of which number you dialled.

Will a 112 call be carried by satellite if there is no mobile coverage?

No. Satellite phones use a different technology and your mobile phone will not be able to access a satellite network.

IF THERE IS NO MOBILE COVERAGE, YOU WILL NOT BE ABLE TO REACH THE EMERGENCY CALL SERVICE VIA A MOBILE PHONE.

Can I call 112 from any type of service?

No. Dialling 112 is only works for digital mobile phones."

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Follow Up By: TomH - Tuesday, Feb 17, 2015 at 18:01

Tuesday, Feb 17, 2015 at 18:01
Yeah good clarification as I forgot to put in "From Mobile phones"
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Follow Up By: Motherhen - Tuesday, Feb 17, 2015 at 18:09

Tuesday, Feb 17, 2015 at 18:09
The main point is that there is no reason to use 112 at all, as now 000 is the preferred number from all phone, including mobile and satellite. Thanks for bringing it up Tom.

There is also 106; the text-based emergency number for people who are deaf, or who have a hearing or speech impairment. This service operates using a textphone (TTY) or a computer with modem access.

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Follow Up By: cobber - Tuesday, Feb 17, 2015 at 21:02

Tuesday, Feb 17, 2015 at 21:02
Just as a side line comment, a few years ago I saw a survey where they asked people (in Australia) what was the emergency phone number and a large majority said 911, they must watch a lot of U.S.A. cop shows on TV
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Reply By: Sat Phone Sales - Wednesday, Feb 18, 2015 at 15:30

Wednesday, Feb 18, 2015 at 15:30
Hi, we just read Grant's book / blog. Some interesting stuff in there, but a bit scant on Satellite Voice / Data Communications. It has, however, precipitated some interesting discussion here.

It would have been nice if it had covered the 4 different networks available in Australia with a discussion on the way calls are routed. This can have a very large influence on performance and cost.

Perhaps also a section on the practicalities of using each network? Noted also was no discussion on the new "terminals" that allow you to connect Smart Devices to satellite networks and services (Iridium GO! and Inmarsat IsatHub)

It's interesting seeing the discussion here on mobile phone reception appearing in areas where there's usually none. This is due to "ducting" where the signal gets trapped in ducts of air with different properties. You'll often notice this when the RH% (humidity) of the air is changing ie. early morning and evening.

As far as the 000 / 112 thing goes - think 000, this is guaranteed to work on Satellite Phones too (at least units sold and provisioned in Australia). Your provider is also supposed to provide access to 000 regardless of the state of your account. Indeed many devices that have an "SOS" button (eg. Thuraya SatSleeve) are pre-programmed to call 000 not 112.


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Follow Up By: Motherhen - Wednesday, Feb 18, 2015 at 16:11

Wednesday, Feb 18, 2015 at 16:11
Thanks for your in-depth feedback Sat Phone Sales. If Grant is not already following this thread, I will draw his attention to it.

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Follow Up By: grantnielsen - Wednesday, Feb 18, 2015 at 19:00

Wednesday, Feb 18, 2015 at 19:00
Hi All

Sat Phone Sales and I have had a good discussion about many of the issues raised here and more....and we're going to address these issues ASAP. Sat Phone Sales are going to answer many questions and fill in other information 'gaps'.... we'll include it in the ebook and also post a link to it here for all to read. Thanks to Sat Phone Sales for this :-)
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