Satellite Phones , Plans, Telstra Sim Cards etc

Submitted: Wednesday, Feb 15, 2012 at 15:11
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I am heading up to the Kimberley's in a few months and want to get a sat phone. I am a Telstra business customer already and have data/voice plans. I searched some of the older threads but was still a little confused.

I am happy to buy a Sat Phone outright, any recommendations appreciated?

What's the best way to give myself voice & data (Internet Data & Access) via Telstra? Can I do prepaid as I will only use the phone a few months of the year.
Can I use my existing sim? (Iphone 4s sim is the smaller one)

Any advise appreciated and once again apologise if this has been covered in the past?

Regards, Terrafirma
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Reply By: Kanga1 - Wednesday, Feb 15, 2012 at 17:55

Wednesday, Feb 15, 2012 at 17:55
Hi Terrafima, if you have aTelstra SIM that is enabled for Global Roaming, it should work in an Iridium 9505a Sat phone, this is what I have and it works fine. Your phone number will be the same as your cell for incoming callers. When using the phone to make a call you will need to enter the STD code as well as the number you want, even if you are in the same State as the the Number you want. IE (08) for WA and SA (03) for Victoria etc. You will be billed for incoming and outgoing calls using this method, about $4 per minute. This has worked for me in two 9505a Iridium phones that I have had over the years and the billing has never been OTT ( we are infrequent users whilst remote). Hope this helps. Kanga.
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Follow Up By: mikehzz - Thursday, Feb 16, 2012 at 08:27

Thursday, Feb 16, 2012 at 08:27
I don't think the micro sim will fit? Iphone/ipad sims are a special fit and not the same as normal mobile sims.
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Follow Up By: Kanga1 - Thursday, Feb 16, 2012 at 11:23

Thursday, Feb 16, 2012 at 11:23
Mike, I don't think my SIM is a micro SIM? Mine is about 10 years old and fits into a Samsung C5220.
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Follow Up By: mikehzz - Thursday, Feb 16, 2012 at 11:43

Thursday, Feb 16, 2012 at 11:43
Yours would be fine but Terra's is an iphone 4 sim so may have trouble in a satellite phone. I haven't had much luck with sim adapters in some phones.
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Follow Up By: TerraFirma - Thursday, Feb 16, 2012 at 12:19

Thursday, Feb 16, 2012 at 12:19
Can't see why a Simm Adapter wouldn't work, all the adapter does is convert the format i.e. micro sim to normal sim? Otherwise I have another phone with a normal sim.
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Follow Up By: mikehzz - Thursday, Feb 16, 2012 at 12:26

Thursday, Feb 16, 2012 at 12:26
The actual gold part of the sim is not the same, a bit smaller, and doesn't seem to work in some phones. That's been my experience with it anyway.
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Follow Up By: TerraFirma - Thursday, Feb 16, 2012 at 12:33

Thursday, Feb 16, 2012 at 12:33
Yes I think Mike that the issue can sometimes be the slide in plastic carrier versus the clamp style connections. The slide in plastic sim carrier like the Iphone uses could lead to problems. Point taken, will have to try it and see at some point.

Here are some of the many comments with regards to sim adapters:
Quote "These more expensive ones are definitely worth the extra. The MicroSIM clips into these holders and sits flush without messing around with "Rest Holders" etc to hold the MicroSIM in place. I've tried both, and would definitely recommend paying the extra for the quality ones.

I understand what you are saying.

However, I have tried three different 'types' of Micro to Mini SIM adapters. I found that the cheapest 'type' was better.

When I say 'better', I mean that the more expensive ones 'seemed' better in how the Micro SIM was held (or fitted) in/on the adapter – BUT they tended to allow the Micro SIM to be pushed up/out when in the phone (when used in a iPhone 3G S). This effectively 'jammed' the assembly (Micro SIM, SIM adapter, and SIM Tray) in the iPhone, when one went to remove the SIM

I am sure that in any other mobile phone the more expensive types of Micro to Mini SIM adapters WOULD CERTAINLY be better than the cheap one.
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Reply By: Sand Man (SA) - Wednesday, Feb 15, 2012 at 20:38

Wednesday, Feb 15, 2012 at 20:38
Excuse me for being a little pedantic TerraFirma but there is no plural for the Kimberley.

As for the Satphone, the Motorola 9505A will access the small sim card when loaded into the standard sim card sized holder, but I have the understanding that the iPhone 4s has an even smaller sim card again.

If I am mistaken, I'm sure I will be repremanded most severely.

Bill


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Follow Up By: TerraFirma - Wednesday, Feb 15, 2012 at 21:13

Wednesday, Feb 15, 2012 at 21:13
My apologies for my gramma. Thankyou for pointing that out. The Iphone 4s uses a micro sim versus a standard sim you see in most phones however can be placed in a sim adapter etc. The Iphone 4 and 4s both use a Micro Sim. I was looking at the Iridium 9555 and the satellite phone guy told me that the sim should work as long as it's post paid with global roaming activated. Cheers for the advise.
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Reply By: quincy - Wednesday, Feb 15, 2012 at 22:05

Wednesday, Feb 15, 2012 at 22:05
hi terrafirma, will probably see you in the Kimberleys. i have a stat phone through TR Telecom (they have a web site) they have a good casual rate no fees for turning on/off if needed, worth the look. ah quincy
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Follow Up By: Teejay - Thursday, Feb 16, 2012 at 20:08

Thursday, Feb 16, 2012 at 20:08
"The Kimberley" takes care of the whole area there is only one Kimberley. Apologies for my correction. Just trying to keep place names intact.
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Reply By: Member - Boobook - Wednesday, Feb 15, 2012 at 22:11

Wednesday, Feb 15, 2012 at 22:11
While you can use your existing Telstra postpaid, international roaming SIM in an iridium satellite ( micro sim issue aside). I would recommend that you get a seperate number from Telstra. They have a suitable plan for $10 per month that has no minimum contract. Doing it this way has a couple of advantages.

1)You are not changing sims between coverage and non coverage areas between phones.
2)If you use your exiting number you will find that everyone calls you for a chat not knowing you are paying $4.00 per minute. In the end you answer no calls because of the cost. A seperate number only given to people you want to call you on the Sat phone solves this.
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Follow Up By: Allan B (Member, SunCoast) - Thursday, Feb 16, 2012 at 00:38

Thursday, Feb 16, 2012 at 00:38
Hi Boobook,

I am on a $30 per month plan with Telstra and believed that to be the cheapest available from them. Where do I find this $10/month plan?

Cheers
Allan

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Follow Up By: Member - Boobook - Thursday, Feb 16, 2012 at 06:36

Thursday, Feb 16, 2012 at 06:36
Allan

Telstra casual plans

You can take it out for 1 month if you want then cancel.
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Follow Up By: Philip R - Thursday, Feb 16, 2012 at 08:58

Thursday, Feb 16, 2012 at 08:58
Hi BB

I thought that it may be okay for me. But alas you need a next G computable phone. Seeing that we do not need anything other than voice and text that is not an option to buy a new phone.

Back to Vodafone.

Phil
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Follow Up By: Allan B (Member, SunCoast) - Thursday, Feb 16, 2012 at 09:09

Thursday, Feb 16, 2012 at 09:09
Thanks Boobook for the link. I foolishly thought you were referring to a satellite $10 plan. By the time you add Roaming fee to the $10 is it still attractive?

However the Casual plan is interesting to me for my Next G mobile as I use it very little. Thanks.

Cheers
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Follow Up By: Member - Boobook - Thursday, Feb 16, 2012 at 17:55

Thursday, Feb 16, 2012 at 17:55
Philip R, my wife had a vodafone, it was great. The coverage was so lousy we couldn't even make a call from the middle of Melbourne. Saved a fortune on calls.

Allan, what roaming fee are you referrring to?

The calls are $4.00 per min to you for out and in. This compares to about $1.50 per minute for outgoing calls and about $18.00 - yes $18.00 per minute for callers calling you ( internationally ) on a sat phone plan like TR telecom. Can't remember the SMS rate but I think it is about $1.20.

Also if you use this, you can SMS to and from Telstra mobiles but not Optus and I think not vodafone - but then again Vodafone customers would be used to getting no SMS or calls:-)

You can turn the plan on or off at any time but if you turn it off you will get a new number next time.
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Follow Up By: Allan B (Member, SunCoast) - Thursday, Feb 16, 2012 at 18:29

Thursday, Feb 16, 2012 at 18:29
Boobook, I thought that if you put a Next G simcard in a satellite phone that it was necessary to have Roaming activated for it to work, and roaming comes with a fee.

If this were not the case, why would anyone pay for full satellite service?

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Follow Up By: Philip R - Thursday, Feb 16, 2012 at 18:42

Thursday, Feb 16, 2012 at 18:42
BB

90% of the immediate family are on Vodafone so most of our calls are free anyway.

Philip
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Follow Up By: Member - Krakka - Thursday, Feb 16, 2012 at 19:49

Thursday, Feb 16, 2012 at 19:49
Allan,

There is no fee to have international roaming activated on your Telstra sim, it costs you when you make or recieve a call on the sat phone.

Cheers
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Follow Up By: Member - Boobook - Thursday, Feb 16, 2012 at 19:53

Thursday, Feb 16, 2012 at 19:53
Allan, to the best of my memory there is no fee. You just have to ask for it to be activated. There may be a deposit but I don't think so.

If you are a regular user then a sat plan would be cheaper, or for example if you mainly wanted to call out were the calls are less expensive per minute. I had the TR telecom plan for a while whic was cheaper per min and you got a $15 credit against your $30 per month. You can also suspend it and keep your number. However for very intermittent use I have decided the testra $10 plan is best for me - WITH a seperate number.
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Follow Up By: vk1dx - Thursday, Feb 16, 2012 at 20:00

Thursday, Feb 16, 2012 at 20:00
BB

I believe incoming calls to our phone are charged to the caller. Outgoing to us. Incoming emails are free. We have a prepaid setup with Inmarsat. I believe the rate is around $1.50 a minute. Same as outgoing. Since the ground station is NOT in Australia then we may have international calls at that rate as well. That I do not care about as we do not intend going overseas.

Phil
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Follow Up By: George_M - Thursday, Feb 16, 2012 at 20:47

Thursday, Feb 16, 2012 at 20:47
Hi Phil

I use a Motorola 9505A with a Telstra Next G sim, and the the incoming call charges work this way:

. the person calling me is charged their normal rate (mobile or fixed phone) for calling my Next G mobile number
. When the call is passed to my Motorola 9505A Telstra charges me for diverting the call from the Next G network to the Iridium network. This diversion is charged at about $4.00 (give or take) per minute.

So it all depends on how you intend to use the sat phone. Infrequent use, then use your Next G sim for no additional monthly fee but higher call charges. Frequent use then go onto an Iridium plan, pay a monthly fee but get cheaper call charges.

Hope that makes sense.

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Follow Up By: vk1dx - Thursday, Feb 16, 2012 at 21:05

Thursday, Feb 16, 2012 at 21:05
Hi George

Because the caller pays all fees for calls to our sat phone we make sure that whomever we give the number to knows that they are up for the full fare.

For your info we don't have 3G and usually leave the mobile at home.

If the kids (now adults) want us then they send us an email. It's free. We call them when we turn the phone on. That is IF we think of it. Other than that they look after things.

The satellite phone is for emergencies, not idle chit chat.

Phil
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Follow Up By: vk1dx - Thursday, Feb 16, 2012 at 21:09

Thursday, Feb 16, 2012 at 21:09
I should say George that the sat phone accepts emails as well as text and voice. The emails just sit in the system until we turn the phone on and they download.

We have sent one email and made one call in 18 months. Still almost $100 in the prepaid credit balance. Now you must admit: That is cheap.

Phil
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Follow Up By: George_M - Thursday, Feb 16, 2012 at 21:26

Thursday, Feb 16, 2012 at 21:26
I know what you mean Phil - we supposedly ever use ours only for emergencies too..

The only person who has ever made it past the call diversions to my satphone was my mother. Unfortunately I was off collecting wood, and she struck my wife.

Twenty minutes and about $80 later when I wandered back into camp.....

George_M
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Follow Up By: vk1dx - Friday, Feb 17, 2012 at 08:04

Friday, Feb 17, 2012 at 08:04
Bloody hell. And who paid. You? That's rich. And a darn good example of why we like the caller/user to pay plan on ours. And why we tell them its to a satellite phone when we actually give them the number.

Going to be a interesting day/weekend. Chemo today and then off for a night wander through the high country tonight and the weekend. That's why I have the sat phone. Hope it goes okay but damned if I am going to say no.

I better bug out now and get to my appointment. Yuk.

Phil
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Follow Up By: George_M - Saturday, Feb 18, 2012 at 11:28

Saturday, Feb 18, 2012 at 11:28
Geez Phil - good luck with the Chemo mate!

I was at the top end of the Avon River last weekend with some mates - wet as...and I put a hole in my radiator. Black pepper to the rescue.

George_M
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Reply By: Gone Bush (WA) - Thursday, Feb 16, 2012 at 11:49

Thursday, Feb 16, 2012 at 11:49
TerrFirma,

what exactly do you intend to do in the Kimberley?

How long will you be there?

You may find that a satphone is not necessary. The place is crawling with people and if you are only going to be out of regular mobile coverage for a little while perhaps an epirb would be better.

I haven't used my satphone for ages. I think it would be hard to find a place in the country now that is sufficiently remote or uninhabited to justify one. Unless you have regular contact commitments, of course.

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Follow Up By: TerraFirma - Thursday, Feb 16, 2012 at 20:44

Thursday, Feb 16, 2012 at 20:44
HI GB, Really wanted the internet so I could check weather and stay in touch with the family. I am cruising around the top for a few months, but just found out that the 2 boats have Satellite Comms so it's not an issue.
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Follow Up By: Member - shane c5 - Thursday, Feb 16, 2012 at 22:03

Thursday, Feb 16, 2012 at 22:03
Guessing you will be cruising around the kimberley during the dry season. You won't need to see the weather unless it is early june when you can get a freak shower. There is payphone at Imintji, Mt Barnet, Drysdale and at other stations. So you don't really need sat satphone. Having said that, for emergencies, they are a godsend.
oh it is the kimberley not the kimberley's for a simple but historical reason. The area was named by Alexander Forrest in 1879 after the Earl of Kimberley. This is also true of the kimberley region of South Africa, but named by a different guy. A pet hate of mine. It is the best part of Australia and deserves the respect of being called correctly.
shane c5
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Reply By: Member - bungarra (WA) - Thursday, Feb 16, 2012 at 16:56

Thursday, Feb 16, 2012 at 16:56
We have the Motorola 9505a and are a Telstra Business customer BUT I recomend you dont put your normal SIM in there simply because you will never get a break and cannot filter the unecessary calls that need not have been made to your "normal number"....lets face it you are on holidays and dont need to pay the in/out costs and call back costs ...or spend the time for that matter on / for calls that were simply not totally necessary.

What we did was to purchase a Telstra SIM on a casual plan for $10 / month and we keep that always in the Sat phone. NO one has that number apart from the "need to know" people

Our normal SIM stays in the normal phone and when we go away we put a mess in there stating we are "out of mobile range, please leave a mess and we may pick it up in a day or week or so whatever, if it is urgent please call xxxxx(someone who has your sat number)

In that way your contact person can make a decision to either pass the sat phone number on to them or take a mess and contact you themselves.......we turn ours on daily between a pre determined time of usually 1 hour..then shut off from the outside world till next time.

when your back in range just check your normal phone...no unnecessary calls and no messing around with changing SIM's..

By the way hang onto the C5220 they are very very good for a signal with a dedicated patch lead and a broomestick aerial.......

cheers


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Follow Up By: Kanga1 - Thursday, Feb 16, 2012 at 21:08

Thursday, Feb 16, 2012 at 21:08
Will do Bungarra, the Telstra shop had the C5220 for sale at $59 each with a Next G SIM and $10 worth of calls included, I bought 3 of them, these phones do everything I need ( patch lead connection point, bluetooth for hands free in the car, and can use it for an internet modem for the computer. Bargain)
Cheers, Kanga.
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Reply By: Grumblebum and the Dragon - Thursday, Feb 16, 2012 at 19:14

Thursday, Feb 16, 2012 at 19:14
There are now Federal Government subsidies for satellite phones available for people who (a) live outside mobile range (85% subsidy) and (b) 'Travellers' (50% subsidy) To qualify for the latter you need to 'design an itinerary' that will take you out of mobile range for at least 180 days over the next two years.

This is not a complicated task - especially as 15 minutes 'out of range' in any one day counts as one whole day and most of inland Australia outside the town boundaries are short on mobile coverage.

The best phone to get is the Imarsat Pro. This is the only phone with no monthly charges - just prepaid credit which last for two years. Call costs to a fixed line are $1.00 pm, to mobiles phones $1.20 pm SMS/Txt $0.50 and email free - the later go through their website I believe - have not tried it yet.

With the full subsidy of 85% the Imarsat Pro phone will cost you just $123.75 plus your pre paid credit. There is no cheaper forms of insurance for people who live or travel outside mobile reception.

One thing to be aware of is that these phones are international - so they will not recognise Australian abreviated dialing codes for emergencies - .eg. 000 or 112.

You just need to program in the police and other emergency services into the inbuilt 'phone book' in the phone.

I bought mine through Toxic Tech who despite the name were great to deal with. All the forms are on their website www.toxictech.com.au. Download them, fill them in and post the back to Toxic Tech who will check them for completions and then forward them to the Feds.

The latter were suprisingly on the ball and the application was completed withing two week of sending the forms in. The Government will post the approval back to you. You send it to the supplier, order and pay for the phone.

This is for information only I have no interests, commerial or otherwise with Toxic Tech


Regards John
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