IsatPhone pro feedback

On our recent trip it necessitated we had contact with home- so we aquired a IsatPhone pro unit for this purpose.
A couple of issues...At times it took a long time, from boot-up, to aquire the satellite for a Ready for Service condition.
Antenna direction was very critical to maintain a 4 bar status for reception.
Any obstruction-like a tree banch- voided aquisition.
When aquisition was 'good' may drop out after a while.
000, 1800 & 13 numbers are unusable.
We had entered all our needed numbers into speed-dial before we left on the trip.
It was also necessary for the other party to know contact was on Sat. phone- as the delay was very obvious.
In an emergency situation with a 'panicking' user- I would consider the unit not the most user-friendly.

We were surprised at some of the more remote locations we did have signal (if only 1 bar)on our normal Telstra Next-G cell phone!!!

HF comms through VKS737 proved 98% reliable- with on 2 occasions we had to make contact via a relay from another member. We had excellent reception with Charters Towers when in Qld, and Alice or Adelaide bases when in the Centre, Simpson & Corner Country. (BTW we use a tapped whip-not an Autotune. On comparisons the tapped whip seems far more efficient)

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Reply By: Member Dick B - Sunday, Aug 28, 2011 at 13:32

Sunday, Aug 28, 2011 at 13:32
Hi Wombat100

I have no experience with the IsatPhone Pro but have extensively used the Iridium system and I don't think there is anything to beat it at this time. I have never failed to get a good signal either in Australia or SE Asia.

We recently did an extensive trip in Central Australia and were in contact at all times via the Iridium phone. It was far more reliable than VKS737 on this trip due to bad atmospheric conditions. HFOZ was unusable 50% of the time for the same reason.

We use SatCom Direct as our provider. They are a U.S. company specializing in satellite communications. We have no access to 000 but do not feel this is any problem. We have everything we need programmed into the phone and copies of the most critical numbers on the back of the phone.

Mick O has some input on these phones so I am sure he will respond.


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Reply By: Bigfish - Sunday, Aug 28, 2011 at 15:07

Sunday, Aug 28, 2011 at 15:07
I cannot fathom why people dont use the best sat phone system in Oz. Telstras iridium service absolutely slays any opposition. People buy a satphone for personnal safety. Then they negate this buy looking for the cheapest service or cheapest phone. One only has to look through the forums to realise that nothing comes close to Telstras iridium satfone service. If your in deep will work!!
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Follow Up By: Member Dick B - Sunday, Aug 28, 2011 at 16:54

Sunday, Aug 28, 2011 at 16:54
Big Fish

The Iridium service is the same service regardless of the provider. The Telstra service is no better or no worse than SatCom Direct. Yes with Telstra you get 000 but we don't see that as any great benefit. We use Motorola 9505A handsets.

We use SatCom Direct because we have accounts with them for the aircraft we manage. We also use the handheld phones extensively in our day to day business. From memory we pay US$34.95 a month and US$1.45min which is certainly not the cheapest available but dealing with them is much easier than dealing with Telstra.


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Follow Up By: snoopyone - Sunday, Aug 28, 2011 at 17:53

Sunday, Aug 28, 2011 at 17:53
However it seems the Op's phone is an Inmarsat version NOT an Iridium.
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Follow Up By: Member Dick B - Sunday, Aug 28, 2011 at 18:04

Sunday, Aug 28, 2011 at 18:04

I simply said that I had not used the Inmarsat phone but had had good reliability with the Iridium system.

Given that Inmarsat are very experienced in Satellite Communication, I would expect they are having a handset problem.


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Follow Up By: Member - Boobook - Sunday, Aug 28, 2011 at 18:04

Sunday, Aug 28, 2011 at 18:04
Eggzackery snoopyone.

The OP is giving rare and valuable feedback on the Isatphone pro.

The ol' "Iridium is better than everything else" replies are redundant and irrevelent given the millions of posts on that subject, they add nothing of value. Some Iridium information above is not fully informed too! I'll bet none of those Iridium lover posters have ever seen an Isatphone pro.

As an Iridium user trying to understand the benefits and issues of an Isatphone pro, I am gald to see feedback on this new service, escecially from someone who obvuiously understands alternatives like HF radio and Telstra.

Thanks wombat100.
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Follow Up By: Member - Michael P (QLD) - Sunday, Aug 28, 2011 at 20:55

Sunday, Aug 28, 2011 at 20:55
Hi All,
Arrived home a few days ago from pretty extensive trip from Bris to Halls Ck Canning Stock Route, Rudall River NP,Surveyor Generals Corner Plus a fair bit more.
My opinion of the Isatphone pro. Good piece of equipment. Every day at about dusk checked for messages, emails etc.., and sent my location home.On one occasion had a delay of about 10 minutes to log on. If my family wanted to contact me they emailed my sat phone & I called them back when I had set up camp and settled for the day ( A system that worked for us.) Yes there is a delay that is present on all sat phones. But I had inexpensive communications to anyone that I wanted to communicate with when I wanted to.

Yes very happy with the performance and operation of the Inmarsat phone.
Regards Mike.
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Follow Up By: olcoolone - Monday, Aug 29, 2011 at 13:40

Monday, Aug 29, 2011 at 13:40
Bigfish ever heard of Optus Mobile sat, leaves iridium for dead with reliability.
FollowupID: 737658

Reply By: Motherhen - Sunday, Aug 28, 2011 at 22:04

Sunday, Aug 28, 2011 at 22:04
Worthwhile feedback, thanks Wombat. A lot of the people who purchase a satellite phone for their trips do so as an emergency back up, and for those on international networks, not all are aware that their chosen network does not support the very emergency service numbers they would try and call in such emergencies. Yes, as you have stated in an emergency situation most of us would be panicky and not thinking straight - needing something you can hit 000 and that will give reliable reception.


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Reply By: Robin Miller - Monday, Aug 29, 2011 at 07:59

Monday, Aug 29, 2011 at 07:59
Hi Wombat

Our experience matched yours quite well , we had an Iridium in our group as well as the ISA and VKS.

They all worked , but the phones are clunky still , the Isa took a while to lock in , but seemed to be better once it was used by placing it over the bonnet which acts as a ground plane.
Having used Iridium previously , it does seem to have lots of dropouts.

We were fully out of normal phone coverage for over a week travelling across lower NT.

At every attempt VKS logged in and it also was able to be used while mobile bouncing over the Moguls. (also used whip mostly)

Our sumation is that all can work - but all 3 are clunky for any real emergency and we still need technology improvements out there before we have fully reliable and afordable comms.

I note a couple of new systems are emerging and maybe it won't be to long before reliable SMS messaging will be available.

Robin Miller

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Reply By: usguys07 - Monday, Aug 29, 2011 at 09:11

Monday, Aug 29, 2011 at 09:11
Hi guys, my wife and I are just back from a 3 week outback nsw trip. On this trip we carried our isatphone pro and used it on several occasions.

As said earlier the acquisition time from start-up can take quite a while but we overcame this by turning the phone off and restarting and it and the acquisition was instant (possible software glitch).

There is some voice delay (as with any sat phone) but there wern't any problems communicating.

A great piece of kit in my opinion!

AnswerID: 463776

Reply By: Member - G G 4 7 W A- Monday, Aug 29, 2011 at 12:01

Monday, Aug 29, 2011 at 12:01
Hi Just done Rudall and half the Canning Isatphone worked well to well 13 then no service to Southern Cross . When we got home i gave it back to the dealer not very happy
Regards G G
AnswerID: 463786

Follow Up By: Rod W - Tuesday, Aug 30, 2011 at 09:04

Tuesday, Aug 30, 2011 at 09:04
So GG do you know why there was no service? Was it just a fault with your phone? and can you tell me the suburb that the dealer is in?

Rod W
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Follow Up By: Member - G G 4 7 W A- Tuesday, Aug 30, 2011 at 10:58

Tuesday, Aug 30, 2011 at 10:58
Hi Rod
Problem was service we tried all situations and times 3G mobile worked better.
We also when 500 km out the GunBarrel on service .
The agent is in Albany who offers very good service should have got a IRIDIUM
FollowupID: 737720

Reply By: Gado - Thursday, Sep 01, 2011 at 18:34

Thursday, Sep 01, 2011 at 18:34
We're just back from 9 weeks through the Centre & Kimberley with both Isatphone and HF (VKS737).

Generally very happy with Isatphone for family contact, mainly by text- we checked it daily to send and receive texts. We also used it to send our GPS location to family.

It generally took a minute or so from turning on to get service and was sensitive to having a clear path to the northern sky. A couple of times it was very slow but we turned it off and on again and it then connected quickly. I agree this could be a worry for someone in a panic.

Voice calls were not so easy with the delay and on one call the signal was breaking up - possibly our fault walking around with it.

It helps if the person on the other end understands the delay. It felt like using 2 way radio and I found myself saying "over".

We also had saved a lot of landline emergency numbers in the contact list.

With calls at about 80c a minute on the prepaid plan we reckon it's good value.

VKS was also excellent to log in eacj evening although sometimes if reception was poor or traffice heavy we would leave it to the morning scheduled session.

Cheers, Gado

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