Satelite phones

Submitted: Monday, May 05, 2003 at 11:37
ThreadID: 4735 Views:1527 Replies:6 FollowUps:7
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2 questions about sat phones

1/ Is there a viable alternative to the Telstra packages
2/ what are the benifits / pitfalls between the two available from Testra. IE what do you get from the one that is twice the cost. Is it twice as good with better reception or does the expensive one just have more features which may or may not be of use to a basic user.
Thanks in advance for replies.
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Reply By: Mario - Monday, May 05, 2003 at 13:13

Monday, May 05, 2003 at 13:13
Dave

I've got a Motorola 9500 satphone. It's an older model than the 9505 and half the cost.
All you get for the extra money is a slightly smaller and lighter phone and a few more features. I've been unable to discover exactly what the extras are, so they're not major ones.
Basically the two phones work identically, the newer one does not work any better or faster. I've used both models and I can't fault the 9500.

As far as Telstra is concerned: Telstra is the best carrier/service provider for satphones. The Globalstar and Vodaphone networks are really unreliable. I've used my 9500 all over Australia and from many odd places in the world and neither the phone, nor telstra have let me down.

If you try to buy a handset from Telstra and want to connect with some other carrier, the cost of the handset doubles. Better to buy one from another source (I got mine 2nd hand) and connect with telstra on a month by month basis. I pay $28 per month (Basic Plan/User) and can bail out any time (no set length contract). Calls are $1.98 per minute. If you pay approx double per month the cost per call drops by half. You work out which plan suits your usage.

The Federal Gov has a subsidy scheme for satphones, there are 3 catches. First you got to submit the paperwork BEFORE you buy the phone (Telstra has this info available in their shops), secondly the scheme runs out at the end of 2003 and lastly, people residents of WA aren't eligible! (I'm told there's a state based subsidy for WA'ers).

I hope this has been of help.
Cheers
Mario
AnswerID: 19164

Follow Up By: Goran - Monday, May 05, 2003 at 15:22

Monday, May 05, 2003 at 15:22
Where is this negative feedback coming from about Globalstar Vodafone network ? Personal experiemce? I have their sat phone and never had any problems at all, regardless where i am. It is possible that Telstra has better options, phones etc. But as far as reliability is concern i don't think there is much difference.
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FollowupID: 12046

Follow Up By: KiwiAngler - Monday, May 05, 2003 at 18:37

Monday, May 05, 2003 at 18:37
"The Federal Gov has a subsidy scheme for satphones, there are 3 catches. First you got to submit the paperwork BEFORE you buy the phone (Telstra has this info available in their shops), secondly the scheme runs out at the end of 2003"

Can you give me/or direct me to more info on what is required to qualify for this subsidy?
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Follow Up By: Member - Peter [SA] - Monday, May 05, 2003 at 21:25

Monday, May 05, 2003 at 21:25
Mario,
I suggest you double check the "no set length contract". I am on the $28 month plan but it is for 18months. From what I have in black and white you have to be on an 18 month contract to get the calls at $1.98 p/min. If you are UNcontracted it costs you$4.00 p/min to make a call and also $4.00 p/min to recieve a call. On the plan it costs you $1.98 p/min to make a call and it costs the caller $1.20 p/min to call you.
Cheers Peter
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Follow Up By: Steve L - Tuesday, May 06, 2003 at 08:18

Tuesday, May 06, 2003 at 08:18
Goran,

I have read a number of reviews of the GlobalStar vs Iridium (Telstra) services, where a signal of good strength could be picked up using Iridium, yet nothing at all for GlobalStar. The review found this happened in a number of places - mainly central Oz and up around the Cape region/across the Gulf from memory.

The 2 satellite arrays are completely different, so you'd expect a difference in service - the 2 systems do not work off the same satellites. When I get a sat phone, I'll be looking at the Iridium system - regardless of who is managing it at the time. (I also believe that GlobalStar isn't actually global yet - which Iridium is - although that would only be a problem if you travel a lot).

Steve
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Reply By: Member - Peter [SA] - Monday, May 05, 2003 at 18:36

Monday, May 05, 2003 at 18:36
Dave,
Have you looked at what you get for your money? 9500 from telstra comes with magnetic roof top aerial, 240v plus 12v charger, second battery, leather pouch with belt clip and comprehensive instruction manual. Mario is correct, 9505 is smaller, lighter and a few extra features that i dont know what they are. If you buy it outright from Telstra it is an extra $500.00. Had no problems with reception last week in the Simpson Desert.
Cheers Peter
AnswerID: 19183

Reply By: haze - Tuesday, May 06, 2003 at 08:27

Tuesday, May 06, 2003 at 08:27
May not be the sort of unit you are looking for, but we have a Westinghouse 1000 series connected to Optus. The service is tops and because we own it outright we can suspend/reconnect at any time which saves considerably on the monthly access cost of $45 (which includes the first $25 of call cost) Call cost is $3.20/min. peak, $0.80c/min. off peak. However our main usage is for email using a laptop directly connected. We usually do our emails off peak, receive Sat. reply Sun. for an av. total cost of around $20/month ie. within the $25/m. allowed. Of course in emergency situation $3.20/m. is dirt cheap! Programmed for all RFDS numbers, it also operates fax, text, and has provision to connect GPS. On the negative side,it is fairly bulky, being 2 boxes approx. 250x200x50. which are fixed to the cabin wall behind the seats of the 75s. The antenna 900 long on the bullbar can be tuned to max signal strength, and from the vehicle battery draws 8amp. voice and 10amp. data transmit. On stand by approx.1.5a. We have had the unit about 5 years with no problems whatsoever.
Hope this is of some use, cheers, Haze
AnswerID: 19227

Follow Up By: Steve L - Tuesday, May 06, 2003 at 13:09

Tuesday, May 06, 2003 at 13:09
Haze,

Yes, the Optus system appeals to different types of people. Optus do not have the low level satellites that GlobalStar and Iridium have, and so their phones need more power than a handheld phone can offer. Optus will never be offering a handheld option (I work for them and have had countless discussions on this matter), so the 'bulkier' unit is the only option they have.

I agree that owning the unit outright and being able to connect/disconnect as and when needed is the ideal way to go - larger upfront cost to purchase the unit, but probably cheaper in the long run unless you use the phone every month!

Steve
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Reply By: Member - Dave (Pilbara) - Tuesday, May 06, 2003 at 14:31

Tuesday, May 06, 2003 at 14:31
Thanks for the replys. It would be nice if telsra would offer the combined CDSM service as well, but I supose that would mean people would not subscribe to both and they may miss out on revenue.
Do others.
AnswerID: 19259

Follow Up By: Mario - Wednesday, May 07, 2003 at 10:35

Wednesday, May 07, 2003 at 10:35
Dave
Just got back from a sampling trip in Central QLD. On the 9500 you can take the back off the unit and replace it with a "cellular Cassette connector" which allows you to connect to the local cellular network. ie you have dual mode satellite and cellular operation. I don't have this feature so I don't know how effective (or expensive) it is. Telstra should be able to give you this info.

To Kiwiangler: try www.dcita.gov.au then from the Home screen click on the Telecommunications option, look at the RHS of the page under Key Issues and click on Subsidy Scheme. This should answer all you r questions.

To Dave: I've had my phone over 18 months and once that time is up, you're on a month to month basis.

To Goran (I think): I use my phone in places like South Georgia Island and Heard Island (sub-Antarctic) , Siberia, and Central Asia and Alaska, as well as some very odd places in Australia. The GlobalStar network doesn't get a look-in in these places. Our Company tried the GS network when Iridium went bust and the setup was unsuitable for our requirements. Now that the US military has bailed out Iridium and will keep it up and running as a matter of "national interest" we're sticking with Motorola-Iridium and Telstra.

Cheers
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FollowupID: 12147

Reply By: sean - Wednesday, May 07, 2003 at 16:46

Wednesday, May 07, 2003 at 16:46
I have had 2 Globalstar/ telet phones and they were next to useless in both the reliability of the handsets and the quality of the satellite service. I now use Iridium/Motorola 9505 and it wins by a country mile. DONT TRY VODAPHONE if you want reliable comms.

These are plenty of other posts on this in the archive


Sean
AnswerID: 19383

Follow Up By: Member - Bob - Wednesday, May 07, 2003 at 21:39

Wednesday, May 07, 2003 at 21:39
I just hired a Globalstar Telit over Easter for 2 weeks and found it to be very satisfactory. The unit sat on the dash with the antenna pointing upwards lying against the windscreen and it had signal all the time. Always had coverage and never dropped out. I can only speak for NSW, SW QLD and Southern NT and Northern SA but it worked perfectly at all times. I was surprised at the clarity of the coms and people had no idea I wasn't on a landline just around the corner.
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FollowupID: 12199

Reply By: sean - Thursday, May 08, 2003 at 10:15

Thursday, May 08, 2003 at 10:15
Bob, I agree, they are good when they work. But I found that this not always the case. I have had 2 globalstar phones.

Try using one when the dispay fails - which happened to me 3 times and phone was useless until repaired.

Try using one with less than full battery charge - they just keep dropping out.

Try using one when one of the gateways is down for maintenance - they dont work at all if the nearest ground station is out and this does happen.

Try using the car kit that needs FULL 12 volts to function and has a antenna that is less than robust - all at an extensive extra price

Try hooking up in some locations - they have blackspots.

Then try iridium with 9505 and you will have none of the above problems. I have used both - extensively - over most of australia. I can state - first hand - that globalstar has let me down on many many ocassions. In one case I could not make any calls for 24 hours while the groundstation was down for maintenance - confirmed by Vodaphone after the event. So much for 100% coverage.

If you need reliable comms, dont go for globalstar. At any rate, teh iridium 9505 is a much better phone, better optioned and a better service at an overall much better price when you count the accessories that come standard.

Just trying to warn others of the problems that do exist.

Sean
AnswerID: 19418

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