2023 Satellite Phone Guide

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Everything you need to know about Thuraya, Inmarsat and Iridium sat phones!

What’s the Best Satellite Phone?

There are many factors that go into determining the right sat phone for you! For complete reliability, and dust/splashproofing choose an Iridium 9575! If you need a cheap handset for short trips in the NT, choose the Thuraya XT-LITE, and if you need email and weather updates, the Iridium GO! is for you.

If you don’t need voice calling, you might even consider a low-cost satellite messenger. Satellite messengers from Zoleo, SPOT and Garmin offer two-way messaging, SOS and even weather updates for an affordable price.

Satellite Phone Cost

Sat phone price varies based on factors such as the hardiness of the phones construction, the features, and the network. The main factor affecting cost is the coverage provided by the sat phone network. Therefore, networks with the least coverage offer the cheapest handsets starting around $1000, while complete coverage across Australia can cost around $2000.

Satellite phone cost per month varies depending on your plan. Most services offer a month-to-month plan option, however these can incur an activation fee. Sat phone plans can start at as little as $16.50 per month. Pivotel also offer a helpful service suspension option, for a small fee you can suspend your service but keep your SIM and phone number when not in use.

Do Sat Phones Work Everywhere?

The short answer: sort of! Sat phone service is line of sight, so you are limited based on where the satellite is located compared to you. If you are on one side of a mountain and the networks only satellite is on the other side, you’re out of luck! Therefore, it is important to consider where you will be travelling when choosing a satellite phone. Each network sells specific phones locked to their network so there is no switching providers once you’ve bought your phone.

Choosing a network with more than one satellite can also be a good idea as if one satellite fails, there are more available to continue to provide coverage.

Thuraya Satellite Phones

Thuraya is the cheapest satellite phone network available. The Thuraya network has one satellite near Australia, located to our north-west over Singapore. The satellite is geostationary, meaning if you are in an area without signal, this will not change unless you move. The satellite location means you will have better coverage in northern states such as WA, NT, and northern QLD and SA. In addition, coverage in VIC, NSW, and Tasmania is very limited.

Electric Bug recommends the Thuraya XT-LITE, rather than the SatSleeve model. This is because when using the SatSleeve, you need to make sure two devices are charged, working, and connected. If you drop your smartphone in a puddle, your SatSleeve won’t work either!

The SatSleeve or Hotspot are great if you want to use your Android, Samsung or Iphone as a satellite phone, or need to use your phone inside a caravan or other structure. You can place the SatSleeve outside, and use your smartphone to make satellite phone calls inside!

Plans starting at: $16.50/month

Purchase if: You travel throughout WA, NT and northwestern Australia, and want a sturdy, low-cost satellite phone.

Inmarsat Satellite Phones

The Inmarsat network is similar to Thuraya in that that have only one geostationary satellite near Australia. The Inmarsat satellite is more centrally located, above PNG. This means that QLD, the NT, northern WA, SA and NSW have good coverage. Service is available in VIC and TAS, but can be patchy.

This phone offers an SOS button and location services, as well as IP65 splash resistance and a huge 160 hours of battery life on standby, making it a great all round choice. Unlike most other satellite phones, the Inmarsat IsatPhone2 can actually notify you of incoming calls with the antenna stowed.

Plans starting at: $43/month

Purchase if: You travel throughout WA, NT, QLD and northern and central Australia, and want a reliable satellite phone. You don’t expect to be making many incoming or outgoing calls. You need a phone that can receive calls with the antenna stowed.

Iridium Satellite Phones

Need a satellite phone that works everywhere? Choose Iridium. Iridium is the most reliable global satellite network. This network has 66 satellites constantly orbiting the earth. Therefore in the unlikely event that you are out of range of a satellite, within a few minutes a satellite will move within range. If you are wanting the top satellite phone, choose Iridium.

Iridium satellite phone plans are the most expensive, however you are paying for the unrivalled coverage. Iridium also offer a range of models, including the reliable Iridium 9555, the waterproof, GPS/SOS enabled Iridium Extreme, and the Iridium GO! which enables voice calling, SMS and email right from your smartphone.

Plans starting at: $65/month

Purchase if: You need an easy to use handset with extremely reliable coverage across all of Australia.

Purchase if: You like to use your smartphone for calls. You need light email and SOS capability, and weather updates.

Purchase if: You need a very hardy, shock, dust and splash resistant device. You need SOS capability.

Purchase if: You only need a satellite phone for the short term, and can’t justify the cost of purchasing new.

Satellite Phone Batteries, Sat Phone Plans, Satellite Phone SIM Cards and more!

Electric Bug stock all the accessories you need for your satellite phone. We have batteries, chargers, international adapters, cases and more to suit your Iridium, Thuraya and Inmarsat handsets.

Authorised Pivotel Dealer

Pivotel is Australia’s largest satellite communications provider. They only deal in satellite communications, so they know what they are talking about! Electric Bug are a licenced dealer for Pivotel, so we can assist with plan advice, satellite phones, and SIM card connections, either in-store or over the phone.

Need accessories, SIM card connections, hire or just some advice?

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