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?

Get In Touch

Satellite Phone Hire

Driving around town the majority of antennas we see at the moment are bullbar mounted, and for good reason! This style of mounting is easy to install, does not present any clearance issues when driving through low scrub or around the city, and looks good too!

However, if you’re wondering where to mount a UHF antenna without a bullbar, this might be your answer. If you’re looking for improved signal transmission, don’t look past roof mounting! This location can provide greatly improved range for many styles of antennas. UHF antenna mount location can have a huge effect on your transmission distance and clarity, so its important to get it right.

Some things to consider when deciding where to mount your antenna:

1. Where are you travelling?

As you may know, lower dB antennas can work better in hillier environments, while a higher dB antenna is good for flat terrain. This is because lower gain antennas emit a rounder signal, which is able to reach higher and lower terrain, while high gain antennas ‘push’ the signal further horizontally, at the expense of other directions.

Maintaining line of sight is a good rule of thumb when determining the best place to mount your antenna. The body of a car can interfere with any antenna signal as it acts as a barrier. As lower dB antennas tend to be shorter and stubbier, they can have an even harder time transmitting and receiving with a car blocking their signal.

If you are planning to do a lot of travelling in hilly areas and are relying on a stubby antenna, roof mounting is a great option. Additionally, if you’re looking to get the most out of your high gain antenna, roof mounting can maximise your reach.

roof mounted antenna with laydown bracket

2. What kind of car are you driving, and does it allow you to easily roof mount an antenna?

example of bullbar mounted antenna

If you’re wondering where to mount a UHF antenna without a bullbar, don’t worry, there’s plenty of options. Some of the best options include the antenna bonnet mount, which wedges in the gaps on your bonnet, or roof rail mounted antennas.

If your car has roof racks, you’re in luck! This makes mounting an antenna very easy. If not, you may need to drill through the roof, which is a larger task, but often worth the effort. If this seems daunting, don’t despair!

Call Electric Bug and we can walk you through the steps, from choosing an antenna to performing the install. We have extremely knowledgeable installers with experience installing antennas on a range of different makes and models.

3. Do you need to drive through low-clearance areas often?

We all have to come back to the city sometime! Although roof mounting provides the best range, it can make driving under low-hanging trees or into supermarket car parks a pain. Fortunately, we’ve got solutions!

  • Spring Mounted Antennas: a heavy duty spring down by the base means these antennas can bend under trees and other obstacles a fair amount without damage
  • Fold Down Brackets: allow you to lay your antenna flush with the roof when not in use. Some antennas mounted on the roof are even able to pick up a good signal while laying down!
  • Removable Whips: brands such as GME and RFI make excellent quick removable whips, which can be unscrewed from the base when needed. This is often just as fast as using a lay-down bracket. Some bases even fit multiple antennas, so you can use different antennas on the same mounting position!
  • Magnetic Mount Antennas: There are many options for mounting antennas without drilling through your rood, and magnetic antenna mounting is a great choice for the casual user. Just don’t drive too fast without extra fastening like tape!
example of roof mounted antenna at Electric Bug

Our staff are extremely experienced, and can help you find the right antenna, bracket, and mount for your vehicle and needs. We have hundreds of different antennas in stock, so we’ll always have options for you! Give us a call, we’d love to give you a hand!

Interested in some of the products mentioned? Check out these products online, or come in store to see our full range!

Fold Down Antenna Mounts

Magnetic Antenna Mounts

Bullbar Antenna Mounts

Image may contain: outdoor


XRSTM Connect Active Mute is a brand-new feature available for the XRS™ Connect range of UHF CB Radios, allowing users to manually mute the radio when receiving a phone call to their mobile phone. The XRS™ Location Services App is able to detect incoming phone calls and automatically mute the XRS™ radio for the duration of the call, ensuring uninterrupted phone conversations.

Active Mute uses smart phone and Bluetooth technology to either mute or lower the XRS™ radio volume automatically when the user makes or receives a phone call. This allows the user to focus on their conversation rather than manually adjusting the volume on the XRS™ radio.


The Active Mute feature can be programmed via the XRS™ microphone or through the XRS™ Connect App. Numerous custom programmable features allow you to select exactly how you want the Active Mute feature to work. Combined with the XRS™ Connect Voice Playback feature, you’ll never miss a radio call, even when your XRS™ radio is muted.

This new feature is ideal for families and users who rely on both UHF CB and Mobile communication in their vehicles.

This exciting new feature will be available to download from the 27th of May, via firmware update through the XRS™ Connect and XRS™ Location Services smartphone applications on both Google Play and the App Store


You are planning to go for an outdoor adventure and your friends advise you that you should get yourself a four-wheel drive. You are at first hesitant but then oblige because you know that your friends are outdoor enthusiasts.
You are now ready to go out and have fun with your compact 4-wheel drive SUV. Now here is the thing, your experience may not be that enjoyable if you are a first timer. In fact, whether you are a star or a newbie, it is very crucial to have some basics when you are behind the wheel.

First, let me point out you have made a wise choice opting to go for the 4WD for your trip. With electronic systems installed in your car such as Hill Descent Control and ABS and the general capability of modern vehicles, even those with little or no experience off the beaten track can take on the superficially challenging terrain without having to sweat.

Now, before getting yourself on the road, it is imperative to ensure that you and your ute are well prepared. With this fact, here are five tips for 4WD beginners:

  1. Understand your route

Your vehicle might have the capability of cruising almost all terrains, but when you are getting yourself to the unknown, it is advisable to do some research first and understand the destination that you intend to go. It does not matter whether you have driven the road recently, there is a possibility that it is different from the last time you were there.

gray SUV during daytime


Most 4 by 4 tracks are not regularly maintained, and this can render them impassable and kill your fun. You should confirm whether there is mobile network coverage and if not, you should equip yourself with communication gadgets like the satellite phone and a UHF radio.

These are the most recommended phones! From left to right you have the Iridium 9575, the Inmarsat pro and the Iridium 9555.

  1. Understand your car well

Not all 4WD cars are suitable for all terrains. If you know that you will be cruising on dunes and rocky terrain, you better have the right vehicle and accessories for your adventure travel. Conduct thorough research on the terrain and ensure you have the right vehicle.

red SUV on water near mountain during daytime

Are you planning to have an RV camping in South Australia? Have this in mind: while some beaches can be accessed with any vehicle, some are suitable only for 4WD and skilled drivers. You may need a RAM mount being the most recommended mounting solution, in your vehicle in order to secure phone well during your off-roading adventure.

Related image

  1. Be prepared for any hitch

In some instances during your off-roading adventure, you might meet another outdoor enthusiast like you who needs help to get out of mud or any kind of trouble; and in some cases, you might be the one needing assistance. Helping one another is an essential part of the 4WD life community. If you want to make your 4WDing experience more thrilling and keeping any hitches at bay, here are some essentials that you should have:

  • Get yourself a 4WD winch in case you get stuck in the mud
  • Carry a shovel in your boot because you may need it to dig out around your wheels when stuck
  • Communication gadgets such as satellite phone and UHF CB Radio.Image result for uhf cb radio uniden

You will need a UHF CB Radio to communicate to your fellow off-roaders or just in case of any emergency in a place with no cell phone network coverage.

  1. Do not overload your car

Over Excitement can make a newbie 4WDer assume their car has the capability to cruise through the rough and muddy terrain can carry the entire family and whatever they can think of. Well, you are wrong. Low weight is ideal for a successful and trouble-free outdoor adventure. The slight addition of weight could imply the difference between a thrilling camping experience and a long troublesome night.

Image result for over excitementImage result for over excitement

  1. Know the local rules and regulations

Yes, you have identified your  4WDing destination , but do you know the rules? What is the speed limit? What do you do if you spot a beacon? Or, let’s say you have decided to explore the beaches in South Australia. I know that 4WDing on the beach is fun, plus, you can enjoy fishing in various spots. Do not assume that the rules are the same everywhere. For instance, in NSW, the speed limit is 20km/h within 100 m of pedestrians; or 40km/h in any other time.  Be on the lookout for any signage such as a beacon as you cruise through beaches since there may be other rules that you are not familiar with.

Stay safe while enjoying your caravanning by adhering to these simple but crucial tips for 4WD beginners. I don’t want you to regret buying your 4WD SUV, but I want you to actually become an ambassador for the same. Follow this guide and get yourself out of troubles.

Thank you for reading and for any advise or products mentioned in this blog. Get in touch with us at Electric Bug so we can steer you in the right direction.