Sat Phones and personal EPIRB

Submitted: Saturday, Feb 25, 2017 at 15:44
ThreadID: 134353 Views:3424 Replies:7 FollowUps:31
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I am heading off on some outback travels. I have previously used the old type of EPIRBs but am now considering Sat phone and or the new EPIRBs. (Yes I am aware the old ones don't operate anymore) I see the benefit of the phone is that you can call for help and communicate with those who's help you are seeking. Who can give me feedback on the best way or approaching the Sat phone issue. eg types makes pitfalls. I only want it to make emergency calls if needed.
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Reply By: Ozi M - Saturday, Feb 25, 2017 at 16:10

Saturday, Feb 25, 2017 at 16:10
some info here

https://www.exploroz.com/forum/131800/sat-phones
AnswerID: 608883

Reply By: TomH - Saturday, Feb 25, 2017 at 17:10

Saturday, Feb 25, 2017 at 17:10
If you read that thread all the answers will be there and confuse you completely.
If you only want it for emergencies I suggest you do as we did.
We bought an Iridium Motorola 9505A and used the sim out of one of our Telstra mobiles.
It must be a sim ON A PLAN and have international roaming enabled.
Our family dont ring us anyway much so were told not to unless was a dire problem.
As a result we had it for 2 years , cost us $8 for two 1 minute calls and we sold it for what we paid for it
Be aware you pay for calls both in and out using it like that so tell friends dont ring us we will ring you. A 9505A has texting ability as well which the older ones dont Should cost about $400 on Fleabay. or maybe in Classifieds on here.
A PLB is the other alternative Is smaller and lighter than an Epirb which is mainly the marine models now Do a search or look back a few pages as was a couple of threads about the merits of each recently. You will see there is a way to get a casual plan for $10 a month but our way was cheaper and as far as I know NO ONE has managed to get one to work with a Telstra prepaid sim.
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Follow Up By: kerbarb9 - Saturday, Feb 25, 2017 at 17:33

Saturday, Feb 25, 2017 at 17:33
Thanks TomH, you were right, I did read the above comments and yes, I was confused, but you have made a bottom line that I can get my head around. Thanks for that.
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Follow Up By: Zippo - Saturday, Feb 25, 2017 at 18:56

Saturday, Feb 25, 2017 at 18:56
Tom's on the money, as usual. The only considerations between a dedicated T-SIM for an Iridium satphone vs. swapping your "normal" one from your cellphone are the risk of someone calling you who is not across your temporary satphone use (and costing you), and your donor cellphone being out of service (unless you stick another SIM in it for the trip).

Everyone has to choose a system & cost they are happy with. We tossed up and in the end went with the $10/mo deal.
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Follow Up By: TomH - Saturday, Feb 25, 2017 at 20:01

Saturday, Feb 25, 2017 at 20:01
Depends entirely on how long you are going tripping for and how much of the trip you will be out of Cellular range. We only swapped the sim on the days we figured we would be isolated and they were for a total of about 10 in a year. If you are going isolated regularly the $10 a month plan would be more convenient I guess.
Better down $120 for the year than dead I guess.
If you go for the $10 plan DONT SAY ITS FOR A SATFONE.
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Follow Up By: Allan B (Sunshine Coast) - Saturday, Feb 25, 2017 at 21:09

Saturday, Feb 25, 2017 at 21:09
-
That's right Tom. I got a $10 "Casual Plan" from a Telstra Dealer who was convinced that it would not work in a satphone.
I inserted the SIM, went outside and phoned him up. His knowledge improved that day. lol

He was a nice guy, but if you tell a Telstra Shop that it is for a satphone they will argue black-and-blue that it will not work and may even refuse to provide it.
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Reply By: Member - Christine and Lindsay - Saturday, Feb 25, 2017 at 20:56

Saturday, Feb 25, 2017 at 20:56
We just got back from the Melbourne Caravan and Camping show.
Talked to a great guy who said that Inmarsat has the best satellite coverage.
He knew his stuff and was not trying to flog anything. He carried a range of phones. Yes I know you get lots of opinions but he did seem pretty knowledgeable and was an ex army guy.
AnswerID: 608890

Follow Up By: PhilD - Saturday, Feb 25, 2017 at 21:18

Saturday, Feb 25, 2017 at 21:18
Iridium coverage is worldwide. Used mine near both north and south Poles, so can't ask for more.
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Follow Up By: TomH - Saturday, Feb 25, 2017 at 21:57

Saturday, Feb 25, 2017 at 21:57
Did he explain the cost to use it Bet he didnt . He is a salesamn after all and sounds like a good one. This is interesting reading and I know which one i would use if needed again, especially if I was stuck under a vehicle and unable to move

https://www.mobal.com/buy-satellite-phone/expert/


http://www.pivotel.com.au/inmarsat-plans.php
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Follow Up By: Member - Christine and Lindsay - Sunday, Feb 26, 2017 at 12:08

Sunday, Feb 26, 2017 at 12:08
Yes he did explain cost and was upfront. I think the technical stuff about satellites might be a good starting point. Our only agenda is that we want one that WILL have signal everywhere with no black holes. The cost is somewhat irrelevant if it does not work in an emergency. We are only looking at short term rental so not such a big deal as for someone wanting an ongoing plan. It was $6 per day rental for 28 + days with a $49 start up load.
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Follow Up By: Sigmund - Monday, Feb 27, 2017 at 05:35

Monday, Feb 27, 2017 at 05:35
Up until last month I would say the salesman was right.

There were times often enough in the Vic high country eg when an Iridium call would drop out or not connect because a satellite wouldn't be visible. Ditto for times in the flatlands. Simple geometry.

My understanding is that the number of satellites never reached the target of 77. The company said 66 was adequate. However observation of a satflare program showed that regularly there was no coverage of large chunks of Australia.

The geostationary Inmarsat OTOH is about 45 degrees above the north horizon in Vic. There are places where it's going to be blocked - when you're in a gorge or facing a steep spur - but once you move and get connected you stay connected.

But Iridium has been hoiking more balls into the sky so maybe coverage has improved.

To see it modelled.... Click me
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Reply By: maurice b - Saturday, Feb 25, 2017 at 22:47

Saturday, Feb 25, 2017 at 22:47
I know this is a personal choice .I actually like to use my phone to make calls and I'm not going to the North or South pole so Iridium is out for me due to there call costs in and out including high subscription costs if don't have prepaid and depending on plan. I use inmarsat and will also try out my new Thuraya this winter in the Central Austrailan Deserts. I will be keen to see if it can hold a continual signal with a clear view of the sky external antenna from Brisbane to central Aust and beyond. Like my Telit 550 did in the early 2000's
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Follow Up By: TomH - Saturday, Feb 25, 2017 at 22:58

Saturday, Feb 25, 2017 at 22:58
The OP said he only wants it FOR EMERGENCIES hence what I suggested and yes if you use it a lot not the way to go but for 1 or 2 calls a year (Hopefully none) is much cheaper.
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Follow Up By: Baz - The Landy - Sunday, Feb 26, 2017 at 00:47

Sunday, Feb 26, 2017 at 00:47
Hi Maurice

Putting aside the original posters question - to your point, if you like to use your phone you can have an Iridium set-up with unlimited talk time for as little as $40 per month...

This is how I do it...

Satphones - don't get hung-up on cost

Cheers, Baz - The Landy
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Follow Up By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Sunday, Feb 26, 2017 at 07:51

Sunday, Feb 26, 2017 at 07:51
Hi Tom

If it is only for emergencies, then the prepaid Inmarsat would be the perfect way to go.

No monthly plan fee, and you must remember that not everyone is in a postpaid Telstra contact.

Once your sim is activated, you have no period to keep the sim active, unlike Telstra where if the sim is not kept active for 6 months, you will lose your phone number. Try keeping a Telstra sim not active for 2 years and then try to activateate it again, your Telstra sim will be useless, whereas the Inmarsat sim will work fine if credit is added.

If you have no money on your Inmarsat sim and have to make a 000 phone call, your phone will get throught and people can still ring you, again try doing that with a Telstra sim that has nor been active for 2 years.

Facts are facts and for casual use of only a couple of calls a year, then the Inmarsat prepaid satellite phone would be the perfect way to go.



Cheers




Stephen

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Follow Up By: TomH - Sunday, Feb 26, 2017 at 08:55

Sunday, Feb 26, 2017 at 08:55
Maybe so but if you use your normal Telstra sim you will be using it in your everyday phone when not in the Satfone. Did you also read my link to "The difference between Inmarsat and Iridium" regarding positioning of satellites

Everyone to their own but it worked for us when we needed it.

You should be able to make a 000 call regardless of sim situation.
However I remember one of the providers, because of them basically being overseas couldnt do that and you also had to put country code etc in to ring your next door neighbour from that satfone. Maybe fixed by now as it is a Telecommunication requirement that all phones must be able to call 000 regardless.
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Follow Up By: Member - Boobook - Sunday, Feb 26, 2017 at 09:17

Sunday, Feb 26, 2017 at 09:17
I have a 9505 and use a $10 postpaid telstra SIM. Generally it works well.

I'm considering a replacement and interested in your comments Stephen.

So are you saying that if I have an Inmarsat phone, I can activate it once, then I keep the number?

Is that an Australian Mobile number or an International Inmarsat number? In other words what happens if someone calls you? Do they just call a local mobile number with their normal mobile costs, or do they have to call 0011 xxxx with the associated call rates?

As to the Iridium, the $10 post paid plan does work well, I keep it going to keep my number. I could cancel it between trips, but as you say I will get a new number every time. So it really does cost me a minimum of $120 per year.

As to using your main, existing Telstra number / SIM. in an Iridium phone. IMHO that is false economy. When you turn the Iridium phone on, you will receive a bunch of texts at $1.50 each, and if you leave it on, all and sundry will call you.at $4.00 per minute.

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Follow Up By: Member - Noah273 - Sunday, Feb 26, 2017 at 10:27

Sunday, Feb 26, 2017 at 10:27
Just a question for those using prepaid, if in an emergency you use all your credit up ( ringing local police, family, medical etc.) what is the procedure and time factor involved in getting more credit?

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Follow Up By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Sunday, Feb 26, 2017 at 11:56

Sunday, Feb 26, 2017 at 11:56
Hi Again

Yes that is correct Boobook, once you have the Inmarsat sim registered you do not lose the number like you do with Telstra if it is not kept topped up. Yes it is an international number, so if you were going to call me, you would dial 0011 and then my Inmarsat number starting with 870.....

To your question Noah, for emergencies you will call 000 which will call you nothing and works without any phone credit. Like all good boy scouts, it is called being prepared and we always carry an unused pre paid phone credit with us and the vouchers are valid for 12 months from the time of purchase. To top the phone this way, you dial the free call number and then add the code that is on your voucher and that credit is added to your phone immediately.

Like I said above, I do not have a post paid Telstra Mobile account, so being on a $10 postpaid Telstra sim would be a waste of money for me.

AS to your answers Tom, if your Telstra sim had not been used for more than 6 months and had no credit, then you are as they say.....up shit creek without a paddle, as the sim will have been de activated by Telstra, so no you would not be able to dial 000. Out Inmarsat Phone has never ever had any problems making calls Tom, from our very remote inland deserts to further north in the Gulf country.

When I looked around many years ago, I wanted a Satellite phone for an additional emergency backup. The Iridium are a great phone, but could not justify spending over $2000 when my Inmarsat were selling at under $800 brand new and ended up costing me less than $400 with my Government Rebate.

In that time frame to keep the Telstra sim active on a casual account, I would have had to outlay more than $720 through Telstra, yet I have only spent a fraction of that getting prepaid, long life vouchers.

Just My thoughts and I am very happy with what I have and if I do not use it for 2 years, it will not cost me one cent, but with peace of mind knowing that I can add credit at any time and not have to get a new sim.



Cheers



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Follow Up By: Zippo - Sunday, Feb 26, 2017 at 14:32

Sunday, Feb 26, 2017 at 14:32
Stephen, you are mistaken about calling 000. Whether you have a current SIM, an out-of-date SIM, or NO SIM, the call will work.
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Follow Up By: Member - Boobook - Sunday, Feb 26, 2017 at 15:05

Sunday, Feb 26, 2017 at 15:05
Hmm, The international number is a killer for me Stephen.

I had a TR Telecom prepaid in the old days. Lots of companies have international call barring as do mobiles. Some can't or won't call you back. At the rates of the calls I don't blame them.


I'm guessing it's in the order of $20 per minute to call you yeah?

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Follow Up By: TomH - Sunday, Feb 26, 2017 at 15:09

Sunday, Feb 26, 2017 at 15:09
Stephen you missed the point I was making entirely I am talking about swapping the sim out of your everyday cellular phone and putting it in the satfone WHEN YOU ARE OUT OF CELL RANGE.
When you get back in range replace it in your everyday phone and use it as normal and I doubt anyone wouldnt use it for 6 months.
. I realise it wont work for everyone but you dont need to dial all the digits like on an Inmarsat phone. If you get a lot of texts and calls it isnt probably the best but as my phone never got any calls when I had my sim in it, it wasnt a problem. I still would be lucky to get a call a week on it as I am not a cyber social person.
Even with NO SIM you have to be able to access 000 it is a telecommunication requirement since prior to 2013 when Inmarsat didnt have it and were made to implement it .
https://www.satphonesales.com.au/Which-Satellite-Network-and-Plan
Here is a good thread from long ago
https://www.exploroz.com/forum/117245/emergency-phone-numbers--sat-phone
This same subject has been coming up about once a month for the last 8 years I have been hanging around here so buy some popcorn and a slab. Search 'Satfones" and spend a week reading them
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Follow Up By: maurice b - Sunday, Feb 26, 2017 at 16:39

Sunday, Feb 26, 2017 at 16:39
Thanks for the info Barry . Stephen L's comment about the Isatphone from inmarsat is very valid. The reason i wont sell mine considering it cost me almost nothing on the Gov Sub years ago.
Life time sim, recharge when you like ,choose your credit
calls to 000 with no credit
Still receive sms/emails and calls with no credit.
The reason i wont sell mine even though i have a second Thuraya set.
Negative side is high call costs to an Isatphone unless you use Skype which is about $2.82/ min
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Follow Up By: Shaker - Sunday, Feb 26, 2017 at 16:54

Sunday, Feb 26, 2017 at 16:54
I sold my Isatphone Pro, because they keep moving the goalposts with their pre-paid credits, also got sick of the firmware updates.
Now I have an Iridium with a post paid $10.00 plan.

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Follow Up By: Sigmund - Tuesday, Feb 28, 2017 at 08:08

Tuesday, Feb 28, 2017 at 08:08
A satphone should be looked on as insurance, not a consumable. Almost all of my prepaid call time is never used just like my insurance policies.

And the premium is difficult to compare as many retailers make it hard to get the data plus they vary (a lot) plus the per minute call varies by offer/plan. (I'd like to see consumer affairs authorities run their ruler over these practises).

For me, on Inmarsat given the voucher sizes I buy the prepaid cost is around $2 per minute the last time I did the numbers. I've seen Iridium users mention $4.

An IsatPhone Pro (on Inmarsat) can be had for around $500 2nd hand and it's a very capable unit.

I like the prepaid voucher system since I can buy one online and activate it only when needed when out there. Typically the 'premium' costs me around $160 a year (100 units of airtime on 6 month expiry).
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Follow Up By: Zippo - Tuesday, Feb 28, 2017 at 11:49

Tuesday, Feb 28, 2017 at 11:49
Sigmund, I'm curious. When you say "on Inmarsat given the voucher sizes I buy the prepaid cost is around $2 per minute" - is that per minute PAID FOR AND AVAILABLE or a calculated cost per minute you ACTUALLY USE?

It makes a big difference if the phone is an "emergency only" device. Prepaid minutes you don't use vs. $4/min for calls you actually make.
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Follow Up By: Sigmund - Tuesday, Feb 28, 2017 at 12:07

Tuesday, Feb 28, 2017 at 12:07
The former Zippo.

As I said, I regard it as insurance in which you pay the premium whether you claim or not.

Though when coming to the expiry I have sometimes played with the phone which you can't do with an insurance policy!

So far the only beneficiary has been an injured motorbike rider. Knock on wood.

I should also say that one of the key reasons for stumping up was that we had two ageing parents back home and had to be contactable. That hasn't happened so far.

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Follow Up By: Zippo - Tuesday, Feb 28, 2017 at 13:07

Tuesday, Feb 28, 2017 at 13:07
Sigmund, I have to agree that at $4/min I am rather disinclined to play with the phone to burn minutes ;-)

We also need to be contactable "out there", and for that same reason - wife's folks are 90+. You either stay home and live day-to-day in anticipation, or you go do your thing and stay reachable. We chose the latter. The $10/mo+$4/min works for us, but everybody will have a different slant.
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Reply By: Member - 105Tvan - Sunday, Feb 26, 2017 at 10:53

Sunday, Feb 26, 2017 at 10:53
If you purchase an Iridium 9500 type Satphone and plan on using a SIM from a Cellphone.
Make sure your Cellphone SIM is for the GSM type phones, they do work and Telstra charge you 36c connection and $2.00 per 30sec. and as others have said, you get charged for both making and getting a call.

See: https://www.telstra.com.au/content/dam/tcom/personal/mobile-phones/pdf/mobilesat.pdf

Still current, and explains charges and usage.
Robert
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Follow Up By: Zippo - Sunday, Feb 26, 2017 at 16:28

Sunday, Feb 26, 2017 at 16:28
And that Telstra document still has the laughable coverage statements in 7.7.

"7.7 If you use a Telstra Mobile (GSM) SIM card in a satellite service handset/device your service coverage:
(a) in Australia will be limited to the coverage of Telstra’s GSM mobile network; and
(b) outside Australia will be limited to the coverage of Telstra’s GSM mobile network
and international roaming service."

Obviously the people creating that document don't understand anything about satellite services. Bit of a worry really.
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Follow Up By: TomH - Sunday, Feb 26, 2017 at 17:38

Sunday, Feb 26, 2017 at 17:38
Isnt GSM 2G and Telstras 2 G network shut down in December

Here in Australia, Telstra’s 2G will be shut down on December 1st 2016 (Click here for more), with Optus to following suit with their 2G network closure on 1st April 2017 (Click here for more) and finally Vodafone Australia closing the remaining 2G network on 30th of September 2017 (Click here for more)

So how does that equate to using that sim in a satfone
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Follow Up By: Member - 105Tvan - Sunday, Feb 26, 2017 at 17:55

Sunday, Feb 26, 2017 at 17:55
They have to include that nonsense due to use of Satphones being banned where there is cellphone coverage. Look it up in the conditions of use, ACMA Regs.
Similar restriction applies to using HF radio's for RFDS.

Telstra still run a 3G GSM phone system.
I'm still using mine.
Robert
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Reply By: Idler Chris - Sunday, Feb 26, 2017 at 14:24

Sunday, Feb 26, 2017 at 14:24
Give EO supporter Satphone Sales a ring. Kevin there can help with both these items and mention EO and he most likely sweeten the deal even more.
http://www.satphonesales.com.au/
What other people think of me is none of my business.
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Follow Up By: Sigmund - Tuesday, Feb 28, 2017 at 13:21

Tuesday, Feb 28, 2017 at 13:21
Yeah, I switched to Kevin for airtime. His prices are good & service is excellent.

.........

I have no financial interest in his firm.
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Reply By: Member - William B (The Shire) - Sunday, Feb 26, 2017 at 18:10

Sunday, Feb 26, 2017 at 18:10
Hello kerbarb9,

I brought a second hand Thuraya phone and signed up for a $15 Pivotel monthly plan.
The benefit of this setup is that the sim card has an Australian mobile number, so if any one calls you, they only pay for a normal mobile phone call.
And if you have to use the satellite phone in an emergency who really cares about the cost per minute.
At $15 a month I consider it fairly cheap and it is always ready to go.

I also have a Spot device that I also have hooked up to EO Trackme so others can see our travels.

I have a HF radio and feel that I am well covered if the S++t hits the fan.

William
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Follow Up By: Baz - The Landy - Sunday, Feb 26, 2017 at 19:22

Sunday, Feb 26, 2017 at 19:22
This is something often overlooked with Pivotel; it is a normal Australian mobile number, which means most people can call you at little or no cost

Cheers. Baz - The Landy
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Follow Up By: Member - peter_mc - Sunday, Feb 26, 2017 at 21:10

Sunday, Feb 26, 2017 at 21:10
That's what we did - ex-hire Thuraya XT-Lite and $15/month Pivotel plan. Free incoming calls/SMS, cheap outgoing calls/SMS. Seems to work well enough.
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Follow Up By: Sigmund - Tuesday, Feb 28, 2017 at 13:25

Tuesday, Feb 28, 2017 at 13:25
Just for info...

An IsatPhone (Inmarsat) can be messaged for free or texted from a mobile at its normal rate. It can be Skyped for around $2.30 a minute.
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