When you are in a city, you have no worries regarding cell phone network reception. But if you stay and work in a remote location, then poor network reception is a major concern. It can also be downright dangerous. Many people who reside in remote locations in Australia get poor network strength in their mobile phone. If you need help urgently, then you must have a satellite phone with yourself. It is because one cannot depend upon the poor network signal of a basic phone during an emergency. In this article, we have discussed the satellite phone services and the various service providers who provide this facility.
What is a Satellite Phone?
A satellite phone is a phone which uses a satellite to make and receive calls and text messages. These devices are bigger, bulkier and costlier than normal mobile phones. It can be used to make calls to anyone from anywhere in the world. You do not need to worry about fluctuating or poor network strength in your area. If you are traveling to remote locations, then satellite phone is the best option for you. You can contact emergency services, colleagues, friends, and family from anywhere.
How do Satellite Phones Work?
Contacting any person over satellite phone is very simple. When you make a call to any person, then the phone transmits a signal to one of the many small satellites orbiting the earth. That satellite then transmits the signal to the person you are calling. Now you can make conversation. The same process is applicable to text messages.
Working of a satellite phone is entirely different from landline and mobile phones. A home phone or landline uses a wired connection to a phone network. A mobile phone receives and transmits wireless signals from a signal tower. You can always use a satellite phone where network signal is poor or non-existent. However, it has a major disadvantage. The distance from the phone to the satellite is very long. So, the signal takes a few seconds to be transmitted and received. After you say something on a phone call, you’ll have to wait a little while for a reply. Telstra and Optus are the only ones in Australia who offer satellite phone plans.
Check out our review of the best mobile plans for travelers.
Pros of using Satellite Phone
- Highly reliable
- Signal from anywhere
- Can be a lifesaver out in the bush
- Telstra and Optus sell them
Cons of using Satellite Phone
- Handsets are big and bulky
- Voice delays and lags
- Sheer handset expense – upwards of $1,000 in some cases
- Hefty ongoing costs
Optus Satellite Phones
Optus is the second largest network service provider in Australia. Call rates within Australia is $0.95 per minute. Incoming is free of cost. Text messages within Australia costs $0.50 per SMS. Data is charged at $2.50 per MB. Call rates are different for overseas. Optus sat phone plans come on a no-contract basis. Activation fee is not applicable. Optus offers two satellite phones. They are as follows:
- Optus Thuraya XT-LITE: The Thuraya XT-LITE is a cheap and rugged satellite phone handset. Thuraya XT-LITE has a RRP of $700 and costs the same as the SatSleeve on a monthly basis. It has a network coverage area of over 160 countries.
- Optus Thuraya SatSleeve: Optus Thuraya SatSleeve connects to your mobile phone and is controlled via a mobile app. The Thuraya SatSleeve costs $888 to purchase outright. After that, it costs $15 per month for a satellite service on a month to month basis.
Telstra Satellite Phones
Telstra is the largest network service provider in Australia. It has six different Telstra Mobile Satellite (TMS) phone plans. They are on 24 months contract plan. Plans with their prices are listed below:
- GO!: $1,145
- Grab N’Go Bundle: $1,295
- GO! Fixed Bundle: $1,595
- Grab n Go Handset Bundle 9575: $1,945
- LiteDOCK Extreme Bundle: $2,045
- DriveDOCK Extreme Handset Whip Bundle: $3.095
There are no ‘sleeve’ services like Optus that can be used along with your mobile. Premium handsets are made for satellite reception while driving. They have a large antenna and sports a rugged design. Call rates vary from 43c to 99c per 30 seconds plus a call connection fee that varies between 30c and 50c per call. Texts are all 50c each.
Are Satellite Phones Worth the Cost?
Australia has a lot of land in the country’s interior which has scarce population. Network reception is very poor in vast landscapes. Therefore, dependency on satellite phone is must in such areas. They are worth the money in such cases. These sturdy and rugged phones prove to be a lifeline at times of need. However, call costs can turn out huge.
Caden Dahl says
Even though the initial part of using a satellite phone it is quite expensive, I don’t think I’d mind getting a signal pretty much anywhere in the world. As you said, they are quite reliable as there isn’t much of a chance of a satellite going out. Now there are a few companies out there that do offer them so I’ll have to find a few to compare, then make my final choice.