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Will the 3G shutdown affect remote travel communication?

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Will the 3G shutdown affect remote travel communication?

by Peter Davidson on Apr 10, 2024

The short answer is yes it will. First, let’s clarify how our view is formed. We have lived remotely for 12 years, sadly "Remote Communications" in Australia is still 20km from the Pacific Highway just one hour north of Newcastle. We have 3G/4G Telstra bolstered via Cel-Fi Go (which does not boost Data) Three years Starlink data changed our lives.In our travels and managing EPIRBhire for 23 years, we have experienced the shutdown of CDMA and taken a keen interest in the signal behaviour both on land and offshore sailing with various mobile handsets with and without external antenna systems. Our expectation when 3G is removed is the mobile phone range coverage will be greatly reduced in remote areas, particularly in areas that are not dead flat. Why is this? The answer in basic terms is very straightforward. With the lower frequencies of 2G then 3G, the signal travels further and tends to flow over hills and through trees. For those working in highrise offices you would have experienced the following..... 3G would still tend to work while in the lift, and 4G would cut out when the doors close. The 5G network will be similar, but more extreme, in some cases it may not even work in the lift lobby. 4G and now 5G have faster data speeds via with the higher frequency but the higher frequency very limited in it ability to punch through obstacles to your handset and will have a much shorter range, hence the need for so many more 5G towers in the city and urban areas.  The 3G experience will be a repeat across rural Australia when CDMA/2G was shut down. Coverage range was reduced if not lost altogether. The lack of service from the new 3G was extended due to complaints with more towers built over the following years. Travellers and rural residents found large gaps in phone reception along major highways that were eventually restored to a reasonable distance from towns. It has taken over 20 years for the 3G coverage to be what it is today. It was working OK, slow on data but you could call. When Telstra 3G goes in mid 2024, the black spots within rural communities will rise substantially, and the range reception between towns will be drastically reduced. This situation will more than likely be “Newsworthy” by late 2024, improvements will be talked about and statistics will be thrown around saying everything is just fine. A Telstra spokesperson said in a statement last week "In fact, 3G accounts for just 1% of our total network traffic” This statement is so misleading… 1% is all rural Australia... everything will not be fine. More BS statistics to come. Tip: Do you have one of the following phones: iPhone 5, iPhone 5C, iPhone 5S, or the Samsung Galaxy S5 and S6, they are labelled as 4G, but they use 3G for voice, so you will not be able to make calls after July. We expect we will be busier than ever suppling Satellite phones over the next few years. Feed back is most welcome. sales@buyasatphone.com.au Thank you and regards, Peter Davidson

Travelling remotely: Do I need a Satellite Phone or Tracker or Messenger or PLB?

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Travelling remotely: Do I need a Satellite Phone or Tracker or Messenger or PLB?

by Peter Davidson on Feb 02, 2024

When we head out to remote locations the pressure is on to take advantage of the latest technology that will help keep you safe. The challenge now is what should I take and how much should I spend. There is so much to choose from and the decisions start to get complicated.

Is Iridium truly a Global Satellite Network?

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Is Iridium truly a Global Satellite Network?

by Peter Davidson on Dec 15, 2023

Embark on a thrilling journey with us as we delve into the real-world benefits of geostationary satellite networks, as experienced by one of our intrepid clients in the picturesque Victorian high country. The Alpine National Park, with its challenging topography, served as the backdrop for an unexpected twist in satellite connectivity that highlights the incredible reliability of geostationary satellites. Our client, armed with an active Thuraya handset and service, ventured into the rugged Talbotville Camping Ground, (Vic) an area where we would typically recommend the Iridium Network due to its global coverage reputation. Seeking the security of network connectivity, the client attempted to use the Iridium 9555 to connect with family back home. To their surprise, the phone failed to register with the network. However, not all was lost, as the client decided to give their Thuraya XT-Lite a shot, not expecting much. To their delight, it worked seamlessly, defying expectations and sparking our curiosity to delve deeper into the science behind this surprising revelation. Now, let's dive into the nitty-gritty with Peter's investigative research (NERD ALERT!), uncovering the secrets behind this satellite phenomenon.  In the detailed analysis, Peter revealed that the Thuraya satellite, with its geostationary positioning, offered a remarkable 8.3 degrees of clearance at the Talbotville Camping Area. At a distance of 39,186km away, the Thuraya handset could seamlessly connect with the satellite, thanks to its unobstructed view. This experience aligns with our expectations, as geostationary satellites, unlike their counterparts, provide uninterrupted reception in such remote locations, overcoming even higher obstacles. Moreover, Peter's research showcased that Inmarsat, positioned at 46 degrees above to the north in the same location, presented an alternative option. The higher satellite not only offered more options but also emphasized the significance of considering factors like tree cover and heavy rain clouds. The angle becomes crucial in scenarios where the signal must navigate through foliage or clouds, making the Thuraya and Inmarsat stationary satellites invaluable choices. In conclusion, the tale from Talbotville Camping Ground illustrates the transformative power of geostationary satellite networks in unlocking communication barriers in remote terrains. Whether you're an adventurer in the Victorian high country or exploring similar challenging landscapes worldwide, the reliability and resilience of geostationary satellites offer a communication lifeline, ensuring you stay connected when it matters most. Join us in celebrating the triumph of technology against nature's obstacles and explore the boundless possibilities that satellite technology brings to the great outdoors.

Which satellite phone should I buy?

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Which satellite phone should I buy?

by Peter Davidson on Nov 16, 2023

Which Satellite Phone Should I Buy? This might be the first time you have considered buying a satellite phone and don’t know where to start. The below information has been written to provide you with all of the tools you will need to buy your first phone.  Before we get into how satellite phones work, please ask yourself the below questions. Once you have an idea as to your answers, the rest of the information should guide you towards the right phone for you. If you would like more help, our would prefer to talk to a person straight way, please feel free to reach out to one of our staff on chat or over the phone on 0415263750. Where am I going to need to use my satellite phone? How often do I think I will use my satellite phone? How long will I need my satellite phone connected?   How Do Satellite Phones Work? Satellite phones might sound technical and hard to use; however, the reality is they are easy to use once you know how. Satellite phones work by a phone on the ground connecting to a satellite in the sky (it’s that easy). The super important part of the sentence before, is that the phone needs to connect to a satellite in the sky. The way a phone is connected to a satellite is through a radio wave. The radio wave is special and can’t travel through physical barriers. A physical barrier is anything sold, like a tree, a roof of a building, or the roof of a car. The radio wave can travel through glass and plastic but not metal, wood or concrete. Now that you know you can’t use a satellite phone indoors; the next big key is making sure your phone can connect to a satellite. Unlike the way it is made out in the movies, a satellite isn’t always just above you (like your own person satellite). Sometimes a satellite might be in a certain direction, so depending on which satellite phone you buy, you might need to make sure the antenna on the phone is facing that direction. The 3 different satellite constellations. There are 3 satellite constellations that phones can connect too.  Each constellation has its own radio frequency, which means only phones made by their constellation will work with their satellite. Eg. only a Thuraya phone will ever work with a Thuraya satellite.  Of the 3 networks, 2 are what we called High Earth Fixed satellites and 1 is a moving low earth satellite. This means that 2 of the networks have satellites that are high above the earth and are fixed in place. The satellites are in a stationary position and never move, so when you want to connect to these satellites, they will always be in the same spot. The low earth moving satellite, on the other hand, has lots of small little satellites that are moving around the earth constantly. The idea behind the moving network, is that you will always have a satellite above you at any given time. This brings us to “Line of Sight” (LOS). LOS is the most important side of using a satellite phone. Understanding which network you are using, and where the satellite is positioned, will make using your satellite phone very easy. For example, if you are using the network with the satellites that are always moving around the earth and you are in a clearing (no buildings around you) than you can pull out the antenna, point it towards the sky and you will get a signal to make a call. The phone will register to the network, and you can make your call or send your text message. When using a satellite phone on a moving network (Iridium), you might need to wait for the satellite to come into view before the phone will register. By waiting 5-10 minutes you now have coverage in the same location you previously couldn't get a signal in. The other type of network you can purchase is a high stationary satellite network (used by Thuraya & Inmarsat). Like we were talking about before, LOS is key to being able to register your phone and make a call. However, unlike the moving constellation, the fixed satellites require you to point the antenna in the direction of the fixed satellite. For example, the satellite might be to the Northeast or Northwest of Australia (the fixed satellites are always in the equator where they can see more of the earth). The direction of the satellite is very important because you need to make sure you are facing the antenna in the correct direction, and that you have no physical structures in the way. The below images help to demonstrate how LOS works with a fixed satellite. When using a satellite phone on a fixed constellation, you may have to move yourself to get a signal from the satellite. By moving a matter of meter's you now have the ability to make a call on the fixed satellite networks (Thuraya & Inmarsat) Due to the fact that the fixed satellites are all based on the equator, the further south you go in Australia the more likely you will have physical barriers between you and the satellite (think Victoria and Tasmania). Hopefully you have started to understand the basics behind satellite phones and using them in Australia. Now that we understand about Line of site and the different constellations that exist, we can go into which constellations are best for which parts of Australia, and what network you should buy. Satellite Constellations Thuraya – Fixed (High Stationary) Thuraya’s satellite is located to the Northwest of Australia and is fixed high on the equator. To use the Thuraya network, you will need to make sure the end of the antenna is facing the satellite at all times. Thuraya Global Coverage Map:   Inmarsat – Fixed (High stationary) Inmarsats satellite is located to the Northeast of Australia and is fixed high on the equator. To use the Inmarsat network, you will need to make sure the end of the antenna is facing the satellite at all times Inmarsat Coverage Map: Iridium – Moving (low earth) Iridium has 66 smaller satellites which are always moving around the earth, at any given time, Australia normally has 2 satellites above us. This means you simply need to pull out the antenna on the phone and point towards the sky Iridium Coverage map: - Global So which network should I buy? If you are planning on traveling all around Australia and want the best coverage anywhere in Australia, the Iridium network is the ideal solution for you. However, the Iridium network’s phones and plans are the most expensive on the market. Where costs are critical, Thuraya has proven to provide a good balance between price and coverage. Thuraya has 1 satellite in our region of the earth, which is located on the equator.  Due to the fixed satellite sitting to the northwest of Australia, Thuraya has difficulties with line of sight to the satellite in mountainous regions of Tasmainia, Victoria & New South Wales.  If you have a good understanding of how to use your Thuraya handset and can get to a top of a mountain or a hill in those areas, you will still be able to make a call.   In northern and central Australia, where the land is mostly flat and you are closer to the equator, Thuraya performs extremely well. However, as mentioned earlier in this guide, making sure the antenna is always facing the direction of satellite will ensure a clear quality phone call. If you are looking for a solution to use mostly in eastern Australia or globally, Inmarsat offers close to global coverage using a fixed satellite network. With most of Australia’s largest mountain ranges on the east coast of Australia, the Inmarsat network will perform better than Thuraya in these regions, however, not as well as Iridium. If you are looking for a solution to use in PNG, Inmarsat offers the best coverage, as their satellite sits just to the east of PNG in a fixed location. Overall, having a good understanding of where you would like to use your phone in the future and your budget, will assist with ensuring you get the right phone for you.

Iridium's - The Inner Workings

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Iridium's - The Inner Workings

by Peter Davidson on Nov 16, 2023

‘Our 5c on … ‘What to expect from an Iridium Satellite Phone/Wi-Fi device. Iridium has recently updated its network of 75 orbiting satellites which has made a marked improvement to call quality. As the satellites are moving it’s important to remember you may experience drop-outs; depending on your position in relation to the passing satellite orbits. If you are in mountainous terrain and the satellite passes behind the hill you will lose the connection. Iridium charges premium rates for its airtime services. Their equipment is robust and high quality. It’s a truly global network. If you are looking to hire an Iridium Satellite Phone, we like the Iridium network predominantly for people that need to be contactable continuously for their telecommunications. As the Iridium devices have a compact magnetic external antenna it’s an affordable option when regular contact is required.  Due to its orbiting satellites, which do offer truly global coverage, we find that the Iridium network offers good voice quality and, particularly in hilly and forested terrain, connection dropouts are likely.    The Go! Wi-Fi device has its applications – it’s handy for regular SMS comm’s and given the Wi-Fi connection it’s good in situations where a wireless connection is required – however, it’s not our recommendation for users that primarily want an emergency outbound phone – that’s where the 9555 is better placed.  Satellite phone handsets are not as straightforward to use as normal mobile phones and knowing how to use them correctly will make a huge difference.   Iridium Coverage Map (Truly Global)

Inmarsat's - The Inner Workings

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Inmarsat's - The Inner Workings

by Peter Davidson on Nov 16, 2023

‘Our 5c on … ‘ what to expect from the Inmarsat Satellite phone Network.   Inmarsat is in essence the oldest and most experienced network in the market. Although it only entered the handheld market in late 2010 with the IsatPhonePro (still our favourite handset). Like Thuraya, Inmarsat operates with Geostationary Satellites. If you can see the satellite and are stationary, your call will not drop out. Australia is very lucky to have the stationary satellite parked over Papua New Guinea. Offering a robust high call quality and a device that is a reliable and solid performer. Inmarsat network offers global coverage, excluding the Poles and serves Australia really well. We prefer stationary satellite systems, in the case of Inmarsat, their satellite for our region is above Papua New Guinea meaning the satellite is located at a very usable angle all over Australia. For example; the satellite elevation (above the horizon) in the following locations, Alice Springs 60oNE, Hobart 40oN, Cape York 76oN and Perth 42oNE). Simply find a clear line of sight to the satellite and you can talk, with good voice quality, uninterrupted for as long as you wish. You can speak with confidence because you know the satellite will not move or be obscured by a hill or trees during your conversation. Call connections are quite stable, given you maintain the antenna pointing towards the satellite. Your voice or the callers will drop out (and return) if you walk around with the phone.As the satellite is 35,000km above Earth, when you make a call on the Inmarsat network, the audio is understandably a little delayed.  Inmarsat has three geostationary satellites around the equator; above Papua New Guinea, Eastern Africa and one just south of Mexico – meaning you’ll be covered almost everywhere, except the north and south poles.   Inmarsat Coverage Map:  

Thuraya - The Inner Working's

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Thuraya - The Inner Working's

by Peter Davidson on Nov 16, 2023

‘Our 5 cents on…’ what to expect from the Thuraya Satellite Network. Thuraya is one of the newest networks to market operating via Geostationary Satellite. It offers a low-cost monthly call plan and excellent voice-quality service. You need to keep the antenna pointing to the satellite, to ensure a consistent connection and voice quality. This is more critical in Tasmania than in Broome. We have used it in both locations, call for a chat. The XT-Lite is my phone of choice and is excellent value for money. The XT-Lite is perfect for Western Australia, South Australia, Northern Territory, western Queensland and north-western New South Wales and for most travel west of the Great Dividing Range. We like the stationary satellite systems, in the case of Thuraya, their satellite for our region is 35,000km above Sumatra, which means the satellite is at a very usable angle for the central, north and western regions of Australia (i.e. elevation above horizon: Alice Springs 41oNW, Hobart 20oNW, Cape York 38oW and Perth 48oNW). In the southeast of Australia, it’s not our first choice as the lower elevation angle makes it challenging to operate. In Tasmania and Victoria, it works but you will need to be near the top of any hills. We have used it sailing down the entire east coast of Australia to Tasmania and it works well – obviously, no hills out there. The phones are quite simple to use, however, your voice or the callers may fade out (and return) if you walk around with the phone. The call quality is the best on the market, but you will need the antenna to be pointing in the general direction of the Satellite during calls, and this gets more critical as you travel further East.  All you need to do is find a clear line of sight to the satellite and you can talk with great voice quality uninterrupted for as long as you wish, knowing that the satellite will not move or be obscured by a hill or trees during your conversation. Travelling overseas…?  The Thuraya service is an excellent option for Indonesia and Vietnam through Middle East to West Africa. Thuraya Coverage Map: