Why Sat Phone’s should be an essential item for camp’s and tour groups

Australians love an adventure in the great outdoors, and possibly more than once in your travels you may have experienced no network connection or no signal bars on your smart phone.  Most of us would like to think mobile networks have a wide coverage, but it doesn’t really take that long in Australia before you find yourself outside of mobile connection.

Communication is key

With not much more than 20% of the Australian land mass covered with terrestrial networks and with most of us now being so reliant on communications, when we are spending long periods of time in remote locations; whether it be walking to the top of a mountain, driving to the heart of the desert, sailing in the middle of the ocean or even driving 5-minutes out of a rural town, could lead to loss of communication.  Therefore emergency back-up communication should always be considered an essential item when traveling to remote places, whether you are on your own or in a group, in the event of an emergency, accident or injury happening.

Camps, excursions and tour groups can sometimes lead us to travel to distant and isolated places.  It teaches the group about being aware and attentive of their surroundings, providing hands on experience in the wilderness and how to work as a team.  Group activities are fun and enjoyable for all involved, but there is still that risk of an unexpected circumstance to happen, anytime, anywhere.

So if you are spending extended periods in remote areas, a satellite phone is something to consider. It can provide that safe environment and peace of mind during school camps and excursions, to know that you are connected and can communicate with the outside world.

How to use a sat phone

It’s not hard to use a satellite phone, what you need to remember is that you need to be outdoors when using a satellite phone as it relies on getting their signal, as the name suggests, from the satellites.

For your satellite phone to work effectively, you need to ensure that the antenna is pointing to the direction of the sky at all times, as it beams a signal up to a satellite.  The person you are trying to call are likely to be using a smartphone where the signal will be patched into a terrestrial network by a cell tower on the ground.

To get the best signal make sure you have clear line of site to the sky, and clear of obstructions.  One of the advantages about satellite communication is that it is unaffected by terrestrial issues, all the while offering global connectivity.

Which satellite network do I choose?

There are four major satellite communication networks available in Australia; Iridium, Inmarsat, Thuraya and Globalstar.

In this article we will focus on the Iridium Network, being the only network in the world that covers the planet’s entire surface from pole-to-pole.  Iridium has 66 cross-linked Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites, at only 780 kilometres from the Earth’s surface.  It provides fast, reliable and dependable network connection. Each satellite is cross-linked to four other satellites providing essential performance for voice, data and SMS coverage anywhere in Australia and the rest of the world.

Similar to how mobile phone networks work, the Iridium satellite network functions in much the same way.  Imagine that each satellite is a ‘cell tower’, it hands off calls from one satellite to another as the wireless signals pass overhead instead of through the ground based cells.  Each satellite can project 48 spot beams which equates to 1 footprint on the Earth’s surface.  One footprint is approximately 4,500 kilometres in diameter per satellite, providing essential performance for voice, data and SMS coverage.  The image below illustrates how the Iridium satellites are positioned and orbit around the Earth.

How to choose a satellite phone

Satellite Phones and its technology have advanced over the years and gone are the days when it used to look and weigh like a brick.  Now they are simple to use, and look more like your average phone with a lot of features to offer.  The great thing about them is that they are portable, lightweight, durable and robust.

As you can imagine, there are a number of satellite brands and bundled solutions that are available in the market, and just like a mobile phone, they also have different airtime plans.  Therefore choosing a satphone can be overwhelming and intimidating.

A satellite phone handset like the Iridium Extreme (9575), is military grade and is shock, dust and weather proof.   It is packed with features and offers a wide range of accessories, providing users with more opportunities to connect and keep in touch at all times.  The Iridium Extreme offers integrated tracking via online portals where you can let family and friends know through social network updates of your location  https://satphoneshop.com/products/handsets/iridium-9575handset.html.  The Iridium Extreme also has built-in SOS button to alert your programmed contact of your location*.

Iridium Extreme Handset                           

On the other hand, if you’re looking for a phone that works without all the additional features, but you want an emergency back-up communications, then the Iridium 9555 will suffice.  The industrial grade satellite handset is capable of voice calls, SMS and email messaging and offers an intuitive user interface for out-of-the-box functionality.   https://satphoneshop.com/products/handsets/iridium-9555handset.html

Iridium 9555 Handset   

The latest device that allows you to connect your smartphone or tablet to Iridium’s satellite network via Wi-Fi is the Iridium GO!  All you need is to download the free Iridium GO! app that enables you to make voice calls, send quick GPS or check-in message, send Twitter posts and activate the Emergency SOS*. https://satphoneshop.com/products/iridium-go/iridium-go.html

Iridium GO!

Seek Expert Advise

If you want expert advise and are looking to find an option that meets your needs, you can trust SatPhone Shop to provide you with the answers you’re looking for.  As Telstra’s largest satellite dealer, SatPhone Shop specialises in Iridium satellite products, accessories and airtime options.  Now offering SatPhone Rentals, you have the flexibility to rent as you go, which takes out the pressure to purchase upfront or be locked into any contracts.  Renting a sat phone is affordable and cheap, SatPhone Rental products come in a hard case including accessories.  For more information, please visit the website:  https://satphoneshop.com/rentals.html

SatPhone Shop is a proud communications sponsor for Charles Werb and the Outer Edge team.  SPS have supported Charles with an Iridium GO! device and airtime for his Outer Edge Polar Challenge Ride for Leukaemia, Solomon’s Island Stand Up Paddle Expedition and his upcoming event to compete in the World Ice and Snow Sailing Championships in Tolyatti, Russia from the 21-26th February.  You can track Charles at the event by visiting, http://outeredgemag.com.au/outer-edge-expeditions/

* GPS and SOS settings must be configured, for it to work.

For more information on products for your next school camp or excursion, please visit https://satphoneshop.com/ or call us on 1300 368 611.