radio/phone communication

Hi everyone,
Firstly, I'm fairly new to this website (and to 4WD adventuring in general) but was blown away by the helpful responses to my last post about battery powered appliances.
I now have a question about keeping in touch. I am planning a trip next year taking in Far North QLD, across to Darwin, down to Alice, out to Perth then back across the Nullabour to Adelaide and Melb. My question is about the best way to communicate. It will be just myself and my 8 year old daughter, so I feel that it will be important for us to be able to be able to communicate, especially in an emergency.
I plan to shift from Optus to Telstra (as I believe they give better coverage) for my phone and am also planning to install a CB radio in my car.
I am interested in other's views about this plan and any ideas/thoughts/comments about the communication in these areas.
Cheers
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Reply By: Joe n Mel - Thursday, Jul 08, 2010 at 22:05

Thursday, Jul 08, 2010 at 22:05
telstra simply has the "monoply" and if there is any form of mobile coverage it will be Telstra as the "primary" and others jump on board ... well so to speak.....
If you are serious about safety/communications either hire a sat phone for the duration of the trip, also use the mobile for normal calls and contacts or simply buy one, yes very expensive but very cheap if you do get into trouble.....
A telstra mobile and UHF radio are a good step in the right direction if you stick to the common roads/tracks, there is a lot of people about at the moment and in most places someone will come alone after a few hours .........
A sat phone and basic gps to give your exact location and you will be fine ....
AnswerID: 423443

Reply By: Motherhen - Thursday, Jul 08, 2010 at 22:23

Thursday, Jul 08, 2010 at 22:23
If you are concerned about an emergency, only a satellite phone will do. Telstra Next G (not GSM or 3G) has coverage for up to around 20 kms from most towns if not too hilly, but vast stretches in between with no coverage. Do a search here for Satellite phones and see you options as there have been a number of recent threads. Spot messenger is an option which can send out an EPIRB style call (life threatening emergency), send an "I'm OK" message to a specified number, or send a "come and get me now" message to a specified number. I travel with Next G phone and internet, and a satellite phone. The latter was used daily for two weeks following a breakdown in remote central Australia, and we couldn't have managed without it.

Check out the Telstra coverage map. The orange dots are where you can expect cover, and the rest of this vast land is satellite only.

Telstra coverage map

For road safety, travel with a UHF on channel 40.
Motherhen

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Follow Up By: Allan B, Sunshine Coast, - Thursday, Jul 08, 2010 at 22:59

Thursday, Jul 08, 2010 at 22:59
Tas, I agree with Motherhen.

For emergency or urgent communication hire a satphone. But watch the call charges!

For non-urgent social calls, use Telstra NextG as and when within range.

A "CB radio" (more correctly called a "UHF Radio") is only of value when the receiving radio is within close distance and in that case will probably drive past you anyway. They are useful when driving in convoy but unreliable in an emergency.

Cheers
Allan

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Follow Up By: Allan B, Sunshine Coast, - Thursday, Jul 08, 2010 at 23:03

Thursday, Jul 08, 2010 at 23:03
Oh!....and a PS:

You won't want your 8yo daughter hearing some of the language coming over the UHF radio!!!!!

Cheers
Allan

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Follow Up By: Motherhen - Thursday, Jul 08, 2010 at 23:16

Thursday, Jul 08, 2010 at 23:16
Apart from near cities and large towns, what you hear on the air waves is all good - certainly not a problem on the outback highways. These days school kids have probably heard it all before and would be less shocked that us anyway. There's always the volume switch if the language gets unpleasant.

Mh
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Follow Up By: Allan B, Sunshine Coast, - Friday, Jul 09, 2010 at 17:31

Friday, Jul 09, 2010 at 17:31
Mh, we have had this discussion, or rather dissension, before.

Perhaps you listen on different channels or have a hearing loss, but I consistently hear foul language when the UHF is on scan. In populated areas there is the occasional expletive but where I encounter it at its worst is in "4WD areas of challenge" where blokes with probably undersized digits are boosting their egos by loudly expressing themselves to their travelling mates by punctuating every second word with profanity.

Now if you fail to hear it then that is your good fortune but please stop telling me that it does not happen regularly as both my wife and I hear it very clearly unfortunately. And I do not believe that an 8yo girl would have "heard it all before". Even if she had heard some in the schoolyard, it is a very different situation hearing it from adults on Dad's UHF as it implies that this "must be OK".

Cheers
Allan

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Follow Up By: Motherhen - Friday, Jul 09, 2010 at 18:06

Friday, Jul 09, 2010 at 18:06
Hi Allan

Fortunately we have not heard the types you so eloquently describe, but I can envisage them. That is the time to reach for the volume dial. We don't scan, but stay on 40 or whatever is the specified channel for that area.Places we have travelled would be similar to where tastpa plans to go, eg across the top, through WA and the Nullarbor, and we have heard all pleasant communications between the truckies without every second word being an "Australian adjective" (as we have heard near large towns). When transporting wide loads through rural areas, we also communicate between vehicles and warn oncoming trucks of our load size and number of vehicles. Travelling through the WA wheat belt, i have never heard a bad word on the air waves. I don't dispute your experiences - i am only relating mine.

Tastpa, it is worthwhile to be forewarned of over width loads, traffic hazards, accidents and traffic hold ups, and to be able to communicate with trucks wanting to pass you, or if you want to pass them. On narrow roads it is necessary to announce when approaching blind narrow bridges and on crests. I think the safety issues surpass the need to screen your eight year old from the chance of bad language if you aren't quick enough on the dial, so still strongly recommend use of UHF.

Mh
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Reply By: Bazooka - Thursday, Jul 08, 2010 at 22:42

Thursday, Jul 08, 2010 at 22:42
Hi Tas...
Read up about PLBs/ EPIRBs on this site and elsewhere (http://www.exploroz.com/OntheRoad/Communications/EPIRB.aspx). Ideal for true emergencies and easy to operate. You could buy (resale prices should be good) or hire.

Another option is the SPOT 2 Messenger, although you would be stuck with the ~$130 subscription fee for a year on top of the purchase price ($245).

AnswerID: 423446

Reply By: Member - Graham H (QLD) - Friday, Jul 09, 2010 at 12:17

Friday, Jul 09, 2010 at 12:17
If you stick to well used roads you shouldnt have any trouble.

Also how old and how well maintained is the vehicle.

We started off with a Satfone and an HF Radio. Never used the HF other than once to check in to see if it worked.

Sold it in WA .

Use the Satfone once when running late on the Nullabor and had forgot to alter time zones.

There were very few times we would have had to wait more than an half an hour at the most to see other vehicles.

On some of our sightseeing trips on back roads we were more aware of what could happen but luckily, or because of good preparation we had no problems.

Not even a puncture in 50,000km.

Depends a lot on the time of the year you are doing the trip

If in the "season" its not how little traffic but how MUCH there is sometimes.



AnswerID: 423462

Follow Up By: Member - Graham H (QLD) - Friday, Jul 09, 2010 at 12:23

Friday, Jul 09, 2010 at 12:23
PS Hiring a Satfone for a trip of that length will be expensive as some cost in excess of $17 A DAY.

We bought one off Ebay for $950.

New ones are about $1500 and you can only get the Govt Subsidy if you are outside OF ALL PHONE COMMUNICATION for MORE THAN 120 DAYS A YEAR.

Pretty hard to do unless you are spending a long holiday at Drysdale Station or Talbot Bay or similar as lots of the "Communities" have a tower.

Marvelous how you can get reception in the middle of nowhere and then you see a little sign ********community 2km.

I have to go outside to get reception in the valleys in Coffs Harbour.
LOL


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