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  1. #1
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    Default Satellite Phones...which one?

    Well dont know that I need to say more. Im actually surprised at how little info is available on Sat phones on the group.

    Which network? Which phone? Contract or Prepaid? Why?

    Hit a pothole 120kms west of Kang in Botswana around September 2017...another 150km from Ghanzi! Burst both left tires and had only one spare. With a wife and two boys under 3 in the car I was sweating bullets. Fortunately a passerby also on their way to Windhoek gave us their exact match spare tire and we drove straight home.

    Main use is as a precautionary/emergency tool as I travel significantly in Southern Africa and very often to very remote places.
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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Satellite Phones...which one?

    Subscribed - would also like to find out more.
    Eggie.

    "Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."
    - Ralph Waldo Emerson.

  3. #3
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    Default Satellite Phones...which one?

    Isatphone2; Inmarsat; pre pay; emergency.
    Last edited by jacovdh; 2018/01/01 at 09:23 AM.
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  4. #4
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    Default Re: Satellite Phones...which one?

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  5. #5
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    Default Re: Satellite Phones...which one?

    I bought a IsatPhone, on the Inmarsat network, from Zippisat in Cape Town in April 2011. I've used it all over Namibia and South Africa, and also in Botswana, Zambia and Madagascar and have had no problems with it to date. Google me to see where I've been the past couple of years. I mainly used it the past couple of years to keep my back-up team up to date with where I am and that I'm OK.

    The operating costs are becoming expensive though :

    50 units with a 30 day airtime window = US$ 63
    100 units with a 90 day airtime window = US$ 125
    250 units with a 180 day airtime window = US$ 308.75
    500 units with a 365 day airtime window = US$ 617.50
    1000 units with a 365 day airtime window = US$ 1,092.50
    2500 units with a 365 day airtime window = US$ 1,999
    5000 units with a 365 day airtime window = US$ 3,975

    If you still have airtime on your phone you can buy 30 day cumulative extensions on the expiry date at US$ 35


    I do rent my unit out when I'm not on a trip to recoup some of the costs.


    I think the lack of information about Satphones on the Forum is due to the fact that very few of the members actually venture into areas without cellphone reception

    Johan 8)
    Last edited by J Snyman; 2018/01/01 at 09:35 AM.
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  6. #6
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    Default Re: Satellite Phones...which one?

    I am no expert on Sat phones.

    But if you want one for bush trips a couple of times a year I would hire one and not buy. Most of the Phone sellers will courier a hire phone to your door. As ever shop around for the best price. Prices of these phones has soared over the past few years.

    I have an Immarsat (old model) which works well and is probably the most popular locally.The only complaint I have (and this could be my battery) are the batteries which when at home I have to re-charge every few days. It is recommended keeping the charge between 40 and 60% and not to stress the batteries with a constant 100%.

    Bought mine from Zippisat who give good service and also hire out.

    As luck would have it have never had to use it in an emergency.

    One aspect of SAT phones most people forget is if you are in remote Botswana etc and have car trouble who are you going to phone for help. It is essential to have a list of numbers on hand. Forum can be useful here.

    I have never tried SMS-ing but I hear it is very slow and possibly unreliable.

    Data costs are high and I usually buy 100 units which last for 3 months.
    You don't pay for incoming calls.

    Some of our favourite areas - Tankwa, Namakwa, Richtersveld (apart from Sendelingsdrift) and most of Kgalagadi don't have cell reception.
    Last edited by Paul Dold; 2018/01/01 at 09:46 AM.

    ďAfrica changes you forever, like nowhere on earth. Once you have been there, you will never be the same." - Ernest Hemingway

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  8. #7
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    Default Re: Satellite Phones...which one?

    I also have a IsatPhone, on the Inmarsat network, and have had it since at least 2010. You need to be out in the open to get reception, not under trees, and normally it works fine.

    Although as Paul says you do not pay for incoming calls it is expensive for someone to phone you, and as Johan says airtime is fairly expensive. Inmarsat changed their fee structure a while ago and made the validity time much more limiting.

    My wife uses the sms function regularly to keep in touch while we are away. (It is not as user friendly as a "normal" cellphone)

    I am not sure that the new Isatphone2 is worth the extra cost for our needs.
    Last edited by mcowell; 2018/01/01 at 02:05 PM.
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  9. #8
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    Default Re: Satellite Phones...which one?

    Hi

    I have a Immersat for years, it works in all Southern African countries and Madagascar, i bought it from Sat4Rent-SA and they are very good with their prices and their service is outstanding.

    As suggested if you do not use it frequently go the rent route, but beware there are many roads in North West, Northern Cape where there are very poor cell reception.

    http://www.sat4rent.co.za
    [email protected]

    They are very professional

    Cheers and a good 2018






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  10. #9
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    Default Re: Satellite Phones...which one?

    Used Iridium 9555 and Inmarsat iSatPhonePro for work, the Iridium had longer airtime windows and connected pretty quickly but the texting was rudimentary to the point of frustration and we used text messaging a lot. The inbox was always full and could only store a handful of messages, you were unable to send or receive if your inbox or outbox were full and this got frustrating. I preferred the iSatPhonePro in terms of modern user friendly interface (I assume the iSatPhone2 is even better) but the airtime windows were short...this is fine for emergency but you end up spending a lot of money on airtime you never use.
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  11. #10
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    Default Re: Satellite Phones...which one?

    I agree. The cost is prohibitive now!


    Quote Originally Posted by mcowell View Post

    I am not sure that the new Isatphone2 is worth the extra cost for our needs.

    ďAfrica changes you forever, like nowhere on earth. Once you have been there, you will never be the same." - Ernest Hemingway

  12. #11
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    Default Re: Satellite Phones...which one?

    We have a ZIPPYSAT..not had any issues with it, but yes airtime is expensive, but a must have if you are out of reach...

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  13. #12
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    Default Re: Satellite Phones...which one?

    We have a Inmarsat Isat like the left one in the link Owen posted. Have it for almost 10 years now and are prepaid with Satcom.
    Always took it along on trips outside cell reception. So far we did not have any problems relating the phone and network.
    Used it on a recent West Coast trip.

    Even used it on a Namib trip in 2011 to found out the Springboks rugby score

  14. #13
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    Default Re: Satellite Phones...which one?

    Quote Originally Posted by Carl Dahms View Post
    Hi

    I have a Immersat for years, it works in all Southern African countries and Madagascar, i bought it from Sat4Rent-SA and they are very good with their prices and their service is outstanding.

    As suggested if you do not use it frequently go the rent route, but beware there are many roads in North West, Northern Cape where there are very poor cell reception.

    http://www.sat4rent.co.za
    [email protected]

    They are very professional

    Cheers and a good 2018





    agreed I have used sat4rent twice and they are great and not too expensive ...my last 12 night trip cost around R2100.

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  15. #14
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    Default Re: Satellite Phones...which one?

    Maybe consider writing the amateur (ham) radio exam and get an HF radio for emergencies. That's what I do.
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  16. #15
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    Default Re: Satellite Phones...which one?

    Quote Originally Posted by Peter5 View Post
    Maybe consider writing the amateur (ham) radio exam and get an HF radio for emergencies. That's what I do.
    The problem is that you are then reliant on dx conditions, and who happens to be listening. Not an ideal situation to be in if you need to contact someone NOW.

    It's certainly a nice option to have though - I'm busy contemplating which antennas to use on my rig when mobile.
    Mike Lauterbach

  17. #16
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    Default Re: Satellite Phones...which one?

    So, how long/much is a "unit"?



  18. #17
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    Default Re: Satellite Phones...which one?

    Quote Originally Posted by hatjohan View Post
    So, how long/much is a "unit"?
    Inmarsat :
    1min of talk time = 1.3 units
    1 SMS = 0.5 unit

    Sat 4 Rent has awesome deals on minutes (not units) and they are valid for 365 days

    Prepay Airtime Vouchers:

    Isatphone Pro & IsatPhone 2

    Option 1
    Airtime vouchers valid for 365 days
    20 Minutes:$55.00
    50 Minutes:$74.00
    100 Minutes:$150.00
    250 Minutes:$315.00
    500 Minutes:$600.00

    Note:Sim card & activation - $20.00
    Option 1 sim card cannot be topped up with Option 2 vouchers


    Option 2
    0 Units:$32.00 - 30 days
    50 Units:$57.00 - 30 days
    100 Units:$115.00 - 90 days
    250 Units:$289.00 - 180 days
    500 Units:$578.00 - 365 days
    1000 Units:$1 023.00 - 368 days
    2500 Units:$2 400.00 - 368 days
    5000 Units:$4 100.00 - 368 days

    Note:Sim card & activation - $20.00
    Option 2 sim card cannot be topped up with Option 1 vouchers
    Last edited by peyperj; 2018/04/03 at 08:42 PM.
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