Satellite telephones - question - wot to get?

No doubt someone will tell me that there is heap & heaps of information about satellite telephones on this site. However, my search didn't locate one.

As more and more of us are venturing out into the wild blue yonder, and we ain't getting any younger, I'm contemplating purchasing a satellite telephone for use in an emergency.

I've looked at the Choice website & they don't seem to have done a test of one at this time, tons of other things, but this one, nada!

So, can anyone give me any advice on the type to get, cost and the 'simplicity' of operation, and their experience with one.

Dick
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Reply By: Motherhen - Monday, Mar 12, 2012 at 18:22

Monday, Mar 12, 2012 at 18:22
Hi Dick - try this search and sit back and read almost 200 threads :O

http://www.exploroz.com/Forum/Default.aspx?s=1&ky=satellite+and+phone

Just make sure that you know what and how to call in an emergency for what ever you choose. This is more important that cost if things go wrong.

Motherhen
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Reply By: Member Andys Adventures - Monday, Mar 12, 2012 at 18:55

Monday, Mar 12, 2012 at 18:55
Hi Richard H, This subject has been hashed and rehashed on this forum for awhile. Try and do a search there are plenty of them.
Andy
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Reply By: Member - Serendipity(WA) - Monday, Mar 12, 2012 at 18:55

Monday, Mar 12, 2012 at 18:55
Hi Dick

I too have been eying a sat phone for those remote trips. I am aware also that there is so many toys that if I bought all of them there would be no room for beer.

Recently at a prospectors meeting a sales rep came spruiking these phones called an 'isatphone pro'. Now this information is only what he told us at the meeting and I am still considering it. I have yet to compare to other phones but talking to some of the other prospectors who already have sat phones - they say it is a good deal.

Normal legal jargon - I have no connection to this company and only reporting stuff I heard.

http://www.isatphoneproreview.com.au/

They look the part and seemed robust enough - he had some demo models for us to look at. The sales rep was also offering a deal of just the phone or the phone and airtime & activation. He was recommending using 'Inmarsat' for the satellite connection as they have 4 geostationary satellites which means you will always have a signal - (I have heard with other providers you have to wait for the satellite to come over the horizon and then only talk while it is overhead.)

Price of phone on its own was $658.50incGST.

Phone with $100 connection and activation fees was $795.30incGST. The connection was prepaid valid for 2 years at $1 per minute of talk time.

http://www.gmdas.com.au/

Of course the price goes up when you start looking at all the extras like mounting cradles, covers etc.

What I did like was it had a Li- ion battery which are proven to be good batteries.

Of course the other option is to hire one if you are planning a once of long remote trip. When you hire you will get the latest equipment, only pay for what you use and don't end up with so many toys there is no room for beer.

Cheers

Serendipity





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Follow Up By: Motherhen - Tuesday, Mar 13, 2012 at 00:22

Tuesday, Mar 13, 2012 at 00:22
So long as you have a plan for an emergency Serendipity, as you cannot call 000 or most 13- or 1800- numbers on the international Inmarsat network which the Isatphonepro uses. I have a Q&A on my website about the pros and cons of this phone.

Mh
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Follow Up By: Bush Wanderer - Tuesday, Mar 13, 2012 at 01:14

Tuesday, Mar 13, 2012 at 01:14
Mh, could you not just program other emergency numbers such as rfds, state police direct land line, etc into the sat phone ? I don't think this would be a big reason to steer away from inmarsat (isatphonepro)

Bw.
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Follow Up By: Motherhen - Tuesday, Mar 13, 2012 at 01:30

Tuesday, Mar 13, 2012 at 01:30
Hi BW

Yes; RFDS have landline numbers which can be used with international code +61 (printable document on my website). I am compiling a list of useful other emergency numbers for this reason. It is certainly not a reason to steer away from the phone - so long as users know and DO set up alternative numbers before they set out. Most Police and Fire service numbers outside of 000 and 13-- are administration numbers, not for emergency calls, and are different for each of hundreds of stations. Getting a list together is proving very hard work.

Programming the most important such as RFDS into your phone (and remembering the short cuts) is a good idea, as if for example in a car roll-over, for those of us needing reading glasses they may well be smashed on not found, and thinking may not be clear.

Mh
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Follow Up By: Member Andys Adventures - Tuesday, Mar 13, 2012 at 10:57

Tuesday, Mar 13, 2012 at 10:57
Hi Motherhen, When I am going out of 3G range I go to the local police station get there number and tell them where I going. It is very easy just to drop in say gday. I have all RFDS numbers in phone so no need to call 000, and talk to an operator that has no idea where you are, or like in the QLD floods abuses the caller for going into flood waters, which latter died because see rang 000. Be prepared before you leave is the answer. And your comment about being upside down in a roll-over I like to see your sat phone get a signal unless you can get it outside of the car.
Andy
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Follow Up By: bob smith 1 - Thursday, Mar 15, 2012 at 17:45

Thursday, Mar 15, 2012 at 17:45
I too have RFDS but I reckon dialling 000 is far better than calling an individual number as they will pin point your location and decide on the best action to take as they have all of the resources available at their fingertips.
As far as Satphones working in your vehicle we have made and received calls ou our Iridium quite easily by simply tilting the aerial skyward.
BS
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Reply By: Member - Troll 81 (QLD) - Tuesday, Mar 13, 2012 at 09:24

Tuesday, Mar 13, 2012 at 09:24
Dick,

I have been looking at satphones for years now and have finally picked the Isatphonepro. I really like the 2 years expiry on the credits, the call cost are expensive compared to other options out there but mine will be in the glove box turned off for most of the time. It will be purely a emergency phone, I have a SPOT so can send my OK messages to family. When my money tree has flowered again I will be getting one :) but I think it's still some time away
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Follow Up By: Bruce M - Tuesday, Mar 13, 2012 at 10:57

Tuesday, Mar 13, 2012 at 10:57
Dick

I too purchased an IsatPhone Pro recently, and so far I am very happy with it. I particularly like the feature that sends my latitude and longitude as an SMS message. Taken together with the ability to contact family or emergency services directly and talk with them, it seems to me to be better than a PLB.

Like all satphones, it needs a patch of clear sky to work. It won't connect under a canopy of trees, or in a ravine. It connects to Inmarsat's four geostationary satellites which are all above the Equator, so it may help a little if you know which direction is North. When first turned on it establishes its location before logging into the Inmarsat system.

I took out 24 months prepaid, and my outgoing call costs are similar to a mobile phone - around 90 cents a minute. Incoming call costs are stratospheric at around $16 a minute, but our family is instructed to send us an SMS if they need to talk and we are out of mobile range, and we call them back.

The phone will also act as a modem for (very slow - 2400 baud) Internet connection, a feature I am currently getting operational. You would only use it for email if you must, however, since charges are per minute airtime.

Mine cost $799 for the hardware including a carry case.

Bruce M
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Follow Up By: Bruce M - Tuesday, Mar 13, 2012 at 16:07

Tuesday, Mar 13, 2012 at 16:07
Just a follow-up on using the IsatPhone Pro for email. I finally got my laptop configured to use the phone as a modem, but it will not download my email - at least not within a reasonable time, having regard to the charging rate of 90c per minute connected.

Taliking with the tech support folks, the actual data rate is around one 28th of that achieved on a dialup modem.

My conclusion is that email on this phone is not a practical function. It just might work under favourable conditions in an emergency, and at considerable airtime cost.

That said, the data rate on this phone is no slower than Iridium.

Bruce M
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Follow Up By: Member - Sonshine - Wednesday, Mar 14, 2012 at 13:10

Wednesday, Mar 14, 2012 at 13:10
I also just purchased a SPOT 2. This will meet the needs of letting the kids know where we are and that all is ok, or sending an SOS - lets hope I never use THAT facility ;)
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Follow Up By: vk1dx - Wednesday, Mar 14, 2012 at 17:53

Wednesday, Mar 14, 2012 at 17:53
We also have an isatphone and a bunch of standard land line numbers to call. The numbers are on paper as well so that in a panic you do not have to worry about pressing the wrong button. It's for emergency only so we are not the slightest interested in connecting laptops etc. The GPS coordinates via email to the grandkids works a treat. Better than sms because they can easily transfer them to Oziexplorer and google earth etc.

Phil
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Follow Up By: rainbowprof - Friday, Mar 16, 2012 at 19:08

Friday, Mar 16, 2012 at 19:08
bruce m,
don't ignore the fact that people can send emails directly to your inmarsatpro phone from their computer for free- at no cost to the sender or receiver. You receive it as an sms message of up to a maximum of 180 characters including the phone number and your email address.

Follow this link

http://www.isatphonelive.com/?language=EN&textonly=False#

that is a really good service I believe.
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Reply By: bob smith 1 - Tuesday, Mar 13, 2012 at 17:43

Tuesday, Mar 13, 2012 at 17:43
Weve had a satphone for several years which is on the Iridium network. Most would agree they are the best for reliability in connecting to a satellite. As far as plans go the TRTelecom suspension plan is by far the best.
The cheapest way is to pop a Telstra sim in your phone and pay for outgoing and ingoing, expensive if you get loads of calls.
Best bet is to buy a $10 Telstra casual sim and dont give just anyone the number.
There are other handsets and networks on the market now that cost way less than the above and in most cases would serve you well, but of course things are cheaper for a reason.
Good luck with your research and keep asking questions as without new questions we would all be reading old stuff.
Isnt that what forums are all about !
BS
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Reply By: Member - John (Vic) - Thursday, Mar 15, 2012 at 02:38

Thursday, Mar 15, 2012 at 02:38
Iridium is the best and most reliable service without a doubt.

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Follow Up By: vk1dx - Thursday, Mar 15, 2012 at 08:38

Thursday, Mar 15, 2012 at 08:38
If they have prepaid then they may be the way to go.

But if not, who wants to have a phone for emergencies if you have to pay $20+ for a plan each month that will hopefully not get used. And then if you have to make a call, pay again instead of using the prepaid funds. If the call was paid for out of the plan then that's not so bad.

Phil
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Follow Up By: marq - Friday, Mar 16, 2012 at 17:53

Friday, Mar 16, 2012 at 17:53
About $400/y with fastwave international prepaid for 200min
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Follow Up By: Member - John (Vic) - Friday, Mar 16, 2012 at 19:50

Friday, Mar 16, 2012 at 19:50
A couple of hundred dollars a year is nothing when you need the reliability and security a good service provider can bring.

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Follow Up By: vk1dx - Friday, Mar 16, 2012 at 20:05

Friday, Mar 16, 2012 at 20:05
Thanks

That plan was not available when we got the Isatphone. C'est la vie.

We have not failed getting access with ours as yet. We have been sending the GPS emails to the grand kids on our trips and they have been following us on Oziexplorer.

Phil
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