different to mobile phones in that
instead of your phone linking to a tower, it links to a satellite.
This means that, unlike mobile phones, satellite phones will have reception
as long as you can see the sky where the satellite is located. Some
providers do not have a satellite constantly in range, and in fact some
offer less than 60% time coverage in some parts of Australia
Some satellite telephone handsets have voicemail and SMS capability with
later model mobile handsets able to send and receive SMS messages.
For example, the Iridium 9505A is a satellite and data enabled phone with a
retractable antenna, 30 hours standby time and 3.2 hours talk time. Other
accessories such as an in-car (12V DC) charger and external magnetic vehicle
antenna are available. The Iridium 9555 has enhanced SMS, email capability
and a mini USB data port with 30 hours standby time and 4 hours talk time.
Several accessories such as antenna adapter, auto accessory adapter, headset
and mini USB cable are available.
high cost of the telephone and the cost of the calls can be a drawback for
the recreational traveller. An option would be to hire
a satellite telephone for the duration of your trip that you expect
to be in remote areas.
telephones can be hired from companies such as Satcom, Frequency
Communications, AST Australia, Vodafone and Australian Satellite Services.
telephone providers are Pivotel Iridium or Globalstar, Telstra Iridium and
Optus MobileSat. Take some time to investigate the best plan available to
suit your needs.
In the event
of an emergency, and even without a SIM card, you can dial 000
(or 112 if on a GSM based service) on your satellite phone to contact
police or ambulance.
telephone handsets can be purchased from Telstra, Optus, AST Australia Pty
Ltd and other service providers.
Telstra Mobile Satellite uses the Iridium Satellite technology.
Members of caravan forums have had discussions from time to time about which
is the best satellite telephone system to have when travelling in remote
parts of Australia and the recommendation from seasoned travellers has been
to use the Iridium Satellite System through Telstra for the
reliability of coverage.
It relies on over 66 satellites located about 780 km in space. This
ensures everywhere on earth is covered by at least one satellite at a time.
When calling you hold down the 0 (zero) until a + (plus) appears then add 61
then the Australian number you are calling, minus the first zero (of the
e.g.: calling a mobile number:
+ 61 (drop the zero) 418 000 000
or a home number in Sydney:
+ 61 (drop the zero) 2 9710 0000
Pivotel Group Pty Ltd is one of the licensed mobile
telecommunication companies in Australia. Pivotel offers two
network coverage options – Pivotel Iridium and Pivotel
Globalstar supported with regular mobile telephone numbers and a
variety of call plans. Their website has maps of the coverage
areas and boasts full global coverage across Australia with the
lowest satellite call rates in Australia. There is no charge
for incoming calls and the cost of incoming calls are the same
rate as a standard mobile telephone with the cost to the
caller’s service provider. See their website for particulars.
Optus also have a dual-mode GSM/Satellite phone available with Optus
Thuraya Satellite Service that they state will provide you with
coverage right across Australia with line of sight to the Thuraya
satellite. To use this voice and SMS satellite service you will
need a Thuraya Dual Mode satellite phone, satellite SIM card and an
eligible Personal Optus GSM Mobile Plan. The Thuraya SO-2510
satellite handset is touted to be the world’s smallest satellite
phone however, it does not have the GSM capabilities (the S0-2520
A number of plans are available and their website states the Standard
Satellite Plans are designed for no or minimal use on the Optus GSM Digital
Mobile Network and the Satellite with GSM Cap Plans are designed for a
similar amount of use on both the Optus GSM Digital Mobile network and the
Thuraya Satellite Network. The fine print also states -
Receiving SMS is not available in satellite mode from other Australian
carriers. eg Telstra, 3, Vodafone. Receiving SMS is not guaranteed from
other satellite or international operators.
As the coverage is via line of sight with the satellite you may have
difficulty picking up a signal if there is heavy cloud cover or you are
surrounded by mountains.
For particulars see their website. Search
Inmarsat offer a satellite telephone under their IsatPhone mobile
telephone service however, their coverage map shows satellite
coverage for the western half of Australia commencing virtually in
the middle of SA & NT. They state the map depicts their expectation
of coverage but does not represent guarantee of service and the
coverage on the edge of the service area may fluctuate depending on
various conditions. AST Australia Pty Limited located in Western
Australia are listed as a ‘partner’ with this group.
Inmarsat also have the RGBAN (Regional
Broadband Global Area Network)
mobile broadband service and the satellite IP modem is a lightweight
note-book sized unit that connects to the end-user’s PC or PDA with
satellite network. The Thrane & Thrane EXPLORER 110 combines design and
flexibility so you can access the internet, receive emails and make
telephone calls on the ISDN (Integrated Services Digital Network –
integrates speech and data on the same lines so your can make a telephone
call while using the internet) or Bluetooth handset.