telephones are now divided into three categories – hand held, laptop or
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.
For those interested in buying a satellite telephone handset the Australian
Government announced on
an extension of the Satellite Phone
Subsidy Scheme until June 2014. If you are eligible for the subsidy you
must get approval before the handset is purchased as the subsidy is
paid to dealers who deduct it from the retail price. A Fact Sheet and
Application Form are available on the Department of Broadband, Communication
and Digital Economy website
The Satellite Phone Subsidy Scheme | Department of Broadband, Communications
and the Digital Economy
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.
One suggestion made was to purchase the Iridium/Telstra handset outright
with no plan (although Telstra staff will persuade you to buy a plan) as
Condition 6 of Telstra’s Terms and Conditions for Telstra Mobile Satellite
Charges for using a Telstra cellular mobile SIM card in a satellite
you activate or enable your Next G mobile telephone for International
Roaming (which can take up to 48 hours to activate) you can insert that SIM
card in the satellite telephone handset. In essence what this means is
where you are beyond the Next G coverage on your Next G mobile telephone you
can take out the SIM card and put it in the satellite telephone without
being tied to a plan on the satellite phone. Due to the higher cost of the
calls you make you should only use sparingly but it does save you being on a
plan or any contract. Just make sure the satellite telephone handset
you purchase is compatible with the Next G SIM card. We also understand this
feature will work only if your Telstra Next G SIM card is on a plan (i.e:
not prepaid and also not a SIM card with another carrier) and there is no
bar on your mobile on 1900 numbers.
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
Disclaimer: The above information is provided in good faith from
information obtained from caravan forums and other 4WD forums. Please
investigate and make your own enquires to ensure the satellite telephone or
phone plan you wish to purchase will meet your needs.
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.
For particulars see their website. Search