Experiences with satellite phones

Submitted: Sunday, Apr 23, 2017 at 17:40
ThreadID: 134714 Views:2560 Replies:8 FollowUps:10
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Am looking at satellite phone for travelling in the outback. future trip is the Birdsville track then up to Uluru. In the futures will travel to other locations where mobiles don't cover. Have researched what is available. Iridium phone extreme is expensive to purchase. Any one had experience with Issat or Thuraya?
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Reply By: Shaker - Sunday, Apr 23, 2017 at 17:44

Sunday, Apr 23, 2017 at 17:44
As a guess, do you mean Inmarsat or Thuraya?
Might pay to edit your post.

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Reply By: RobAck - Sunday, Apr 23, 2017 at 17:54

Sunday, Apr 23, 2017 at 17:54
You need to look at the satellite coverage of all suppliers before making your choice. Cost is not the issue the actual performance of the phone when you need it, in an emergency, is the key. Irridium has the best of all as it runs off a military system of global satellites. The rest vary considerably with the cheapest ones only having one satellite covering our area. Hence we still use our Irridium which is now over 15 years old and still better in response(startup to acquiriing the satellites) and holding them across the sky. You can pick up used ones at a reasonable cost and also look for refurbished ones from reputable suppliers

Rob
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Reply By: torro - Sunday, Apr 23, 2017 at 18:14

Sunday, Apr 23, 2017 at 18:14
I'm also looking at Issatphone2. Anyone had experience with phone and network?
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Follow Up By: Shaker - Sunday, Apr 23, 2017 at 20:01

Sunday, Apr 23, 2017 at 20:01
Phone & network seemed ok, but I didn't like all the firmware upgrades & the shortening of the credit expiry periods. From what I can gather from a very recent thread, there could be one or two for sale very shortly. I sold mine because of the aforementioned & bought an Iridium.

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Follow Up By: Sigmund - Monday, Apr 24, 2017 at 07:04

Monday, Apr 24, 2017 at 07:04
You can still get the IsatPhone Pro, its predecessor. It's cheaper and perfectly capable.

Reception in Aus and NZ is fine on the Inmarsat network. In southern Aus the satellite is about 45 degrees up in the northern sky. Gets higher as you go north.

I like the prepaid voucher system - buy as many units as you want and activate the voucher when you need to while out there.

It has a large battery and almost 8 hours talk time on a charge.

It has the capacity to send your coordinates to a defined recipient with a couple of keystrokes.

It's hard to calculate the per minute cost as there's a bunch of variables but it's in the realm of $2 - $3.

The phone has a long international number that puts some prospective owners off. It's also expensive to call into but you can text it for free or use Skype at about $2.70 a minute.

Here's some info on all the networks: https://www.satphonesales.com.au/Which-Satellite-Network-and-Plan This crowd provide good service. No affiliation.
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Reply By: Motherhen - Sunday, Apr 23, 2017 at 21:06

Sunday, Apr 23, 2017 at 21:06
Are you looking at having one for regular use or to have in case of emergency torro?

A search here on "satellite phone" will bring you heaps of threads. The question is asked often.
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Follow Up By: torro - Sunday, Apr 23, 2017 at 22:29

Sunday, Apr 23, 2017 at 22:29
I would need with an sos button for emergencies, but also get in touch with family as needs be. I would be looking at a casual plan, for when we need it.
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Follow Up By: Member - peter_mcc - Sunday, Apr 23, 2017 at 22:49

Sunday, Apr 23, 2017 at 22:49
Do some searching - it came up the other day. You need to balance lots of things. Coverage for all of them will be fine but check their maps.

Costs to consider:
- phone handset cost
- connection cost
- monthly cost to keep phone active
- cost to receive calls/SMS for you
- cost to receive calls/SMS for people calling you
- cost to make calls/send SMS

We went with Thuraya on a Pivotel plan. $15/month plan, free incoming calls/SMS (people call an Australian mobile number), reasonable outgoing call/sms rates.

If you want a SOS feature get a PLB/EPIRB - that's what they do and they do it really well.
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Reply By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Sunday, Apr 23, 2017 at 21:43

Sunday, Apr 23, 2017 at 21:43
I Torro

I have had the Inmarsat IsatPhone Pro for a good few years now and I have never had any issues with it.

Works first time every time and have used it a many remote locations across Australia.

I have my phone on the pre paid basis and it is the best way for me.

Good insurance if the situation ever occurs.



Cheers



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Follow Up By: Member - ACD 1 - Sunday, Apr 23, 2017 at 22:08

Sunday, Apr 23, 2017 at 22:08
I also run two Inmarsat isatphones.

I have one with longterm prepaid credit in the car in a car kit and the other, with shorter term prepaid in a grab bag in the rear of the Landcruiser.

As with Stephen, always connect when required, no dropout (as with some other brands), since changing location of the satellite receiver - the car kit one is connected over 90% of the time to receive text and calls. I use that one like a normal mobile ie just to chat with family and friends.

I can't fault them - reliable, great after sales service through my provider. The even replaced the mother board (outside of warranty) and lent me a handset while it was being fixed.

Cheers

Anthony
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Follow Up By: Member - bbuzz (NSW) - Monday, Apr 24, 2017 at 11:39

Monday, Apr 24, 2017 at 11:39
Stephen & Anthony,
You are using a pre-paid sim, say from Telstra, (which could be used in a smartphone) and using the sat phone on that sim?
I have heard that Global Roaming has to be activated too and the charges will only be high if you use it for an extended time.
Do you send SMS messages with that pre-paid sim too?

Sounds like the cheapest way to use a sat phone.

Cheers

bill
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Follow Up By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Monday, Apr 24, 2017 at 14:10

Monday, Apr 24, 2017 at 14:10
Hi Bill

The Pre Paid SIM that we use is supplied by Inmarsat and free.

Being a dedicated Satelite SIM, it is designed for world wide use and does not require International Roaming to be activated, as it uses as such the satellite positioned in space, but it is in a fixed position.

Yes, you are able to send SMS messages with the IsatPro, and your family at home can log on and send free text messages from their computer.

As I have stated above, it is a safety item that we carry, along with a HF Radio, PLB as well as we have now a SPOT 3 just for added comfort and hope they are never used in an emergency.

As they say, it is better to be safe than sorry.





Cheers






Stephen
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Follow Up By: Member - ACD 1 - Monday, Apr 24, 2017 at 16:44

Monday, Apr 24, 2017 at 16:44
Hi Bill

Think Stephen has covered it in his response.

I also have a HF radio and carry two PLB's (GME's), one in the overhead console and one in the grab bag. Overkill - definately, but for me my family comes first. Wife and kids know where they are and how to use them. They are in the car where I can reach from the drivers seat and the grab bag is right at the rear door where it can be easily accessed through the door or a smashed window if need be.

It's great having all the gear - but it needs to be accessible and EVERYONE on board needs to know how to work it.

Cheers

Anthony


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Reply By: MEMBER - Darian, SA - Sunday, Apr 23, 2017 at 21:49

Sunday, Apr 23, 2017 at 21:49
Even with several uhf's, an HF radio and the mobile phone, I still ended up with a satphone, just in case 'the balloon goes up'. I went with a satphone deal from Pivotel...a clunky Qualcomm 1600 phone ($500) on the Globalstar system, $20/month for the service plan and $1/min calls out. Cheap as I could find. Callers TO me pay their normal mobile phone charges (exc. value for them :-). Performance ? Voice is very clear... dropouts can happen depending on terrain (sats are moving, not fixed)...texting not offered. Suits me...I just want the satphone for urgent issues...its rarely used.
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Follow Up By: Idler Chris - Sunday, Apr 23, 2017 at 22:14

Sunday, Apr 23, 2017 at 22:14
I have done the same as Darian. Only use it for emergencies. Turn it on most days when travelling just to make sure it is working and fully charged. I cannot remember the last time I turned it on and did not have a signal. Some say it does not work so well in the northern latitudes. I had an emergency at latitude 13 degrees 42" south several years ago and was on the satphone for over 35 minutes. A great phone.
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Reply By: torro - Monday, Apr 24, 2017 at 19:20

Monday, Apr 24, 2017 at 19:20
Thanks everyone for advice and experiences.
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Reply By: Member - John M50 - Tuesday, Apr 25, 2017 at 06:00

Tuesday, Apr 25, 2017 at 06:00
I have just bought an Iridium Go. For me it was the easiest system for the missus to use if we have to hit the emergency button. We just pair our Iphones to the device and then use the Iridium app to call. Easy for her. It also allows emails etc,.
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Follow Up By: Member - peter_mcc - Tuesday, Apr 25, 2017 at 09:42

Tuesday, Apr 25, 2017 at 09:42
We hired one a while ago - be aware that it can take quite a while for SMS's to go through (check with the person you bought it off but I think you need to allow 30+ mins in some cases). We were turning it on for 15mins at a time and that wasn't enough.
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