• Satellite phone connections explained

    In some parts of Australia, a mobile phone connection is simply not possible. Satellite phones (Satphones) offer a portable solution and are often used as an emergency option during landline repairs.

  • About satellite phone connections

    • 1 What is a satellite phone?
      • A satellite phone, or satphone, is a unique type of mobile phone that connects to the network via satellites in space instead of ground-based cell towers. This advanced technology provides coverage over a wider geographic area, making it particularly useful for those on the move.

        Satphones are typically used outdoors and rely on space-based networks, often serving as the only reliable voice connection in remote regions. However, they are not intended to replace home phone options.

        Generally, satphones are about the same size as larger mobile phones but can be heavier and broader. You can also use a SatSleeve, which fits around your regular smartphone, such as an iPhone or Samsung Galaxy, turning it into a satellite phone. To make calls on both networks, you’ll need both a satellite phone plan and a standard mobile phone plan.

    • 2 How does it work?
      • When you call or send a message on a satphone, a signal is sent to one of multiple small satellites in orbit around the earth. This satellite then transmits the signal to the recipient of your message. Return messages travel the same path in reverse. This is very different from a home phone or landline. These use a wired connection to a phone network or a mobile phone, which receives and transmits wireless signals from a signal tower.

        Several companies provide satellite phone services. Each network uses a mixture of satellites they own and satellites owned by others to achieve as wide coverage as possible.

        The networks available in Australia are:

      • Having trouble with your satphone? Let’s troubleshoot.

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    • 3 Emergency calls
      • A satphone can’t provide location access to a 000 operator since the signal comes from a satellite. If a satphone is your primary means of emergency communication, we recommend having a source of GPS data with you to provide this information to the operator.

        If your satphone is also a smartphone with an internet plan, you may be able to use the Australian Government Emergency+ app to notify emergency services.

  • Advantages and disadvantages

      • Advantages

      • Available to anyone in Australia
      • Better coverage and reliability for extremely remote areas
      • GPS transmission in emergencies
      • Very user-friendly phone calls and texts
      • Extra reliable form of emergency contact
      • Disadvantages

      • Slightly delayed voice transmission
      • More expensive than a regular phone
      • Each network requires a unique handset/hardware
      • Severe weather may interrupt service
      • Usually larger in size than standard mobile phones
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    Things to consider when purchasing a Satellite Phone

    • 1 Where can I get a satellite phone?

      There are many resellers and providers of satphone suppliers and plans. It’s worth first looking at Telstra and Optus options and comparing them with other providers. Check for reviews on network reliability, cost, and customer support. These checks are vital to avoid phone issues in a remote area.

    • 2 How much does a satellite phone cost?

      Satphone prices vary, whether you’re buying a standalone device or a SatSleeve to use with your smartphone. Standalone satphones or SatSleeves can cost anywhere from $800 to $1900. If you choose the SatSleeve, remember that it must be connected to a compatible smartphone (which may come at an extra cost) and needs its own network and plan to function.

      Post-paid plans are available on all four phone networks, but pre-paid plans are only available on the Inmarsat and Iridium networks in Australia. You can also rent a Satphone unit as a safety option if you have plans to travel in a remote part of the country.

    • 3 How much does it cost to call and message?

      A voice call can range from about $2 to $5 for a two-minute call, depending on your network and plan. You can also use SMS and internet data over satellite networks – again, costs for these will vary between networks and plans.

  • Looking for more information?

    The links below can provide you with a better understanding of satellite phone services. It’s important to note that these services are not the same as the USO Satellite service used by Telstra to fulfil its obligation to provide landline services.


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