Which satellite phone to buy

There are so many different networks and satellite phone options available these days that it can be very confusing to decide which satellite phone to buy. Some of the information below will help you decide which satellite phone will best suit your needs.


Satellite Phone Networks:

There are 4 satellite networks that are available in Australia.


Iridium has the biggest and the best network of all.  Iridium has a moving constellation of 66 satellites orbiting the earth at a height of approx. 780km. These satellites provide 100% global coverage.  However, the Iridium service comes at a higher price too. The call rates on Iridium are higher than other networks and you have to sign up to a monthly plan. There is a prepaid option as well but it works out to be more expensive than the plan.

Apart from global coverage, you also get the benefit of a standard mobile phone number for your satphone, if you connect your Iridium service through Pivotel. What this means is that the callers to your satphone will only pay the cost of a standard mobile phone call when they ring you. Whereas with other service providers, the number allocated to your satphone is international and calls to your phone will pay much higher call rates. This is an important factor if you expect to receive a lot of calls from family & friends or from your work. Pivotel plans start at $22 per month and you don’t have to enter into a contract. Other fees & charges apply.

Iridium has 2 phone models on offer – Iridium 9555 and Iridium Extreme 9575. 9555 sells for $1399 and 9575 sells for $1699.  Iridium 9575 is a waterproof phone and has additional functionality of a ‘panic button’ which can be pressed in case of serious emergencies.



Inmarsat operates a network of 3 geostationary satellites which are located along the equator at a height of approx. 36000kms. The satellites have much bigger call handling capabilities as compared to iridium satellites and are able to provide global coverage. The coverage is not available in Polar Regions due to the location of satellites. For users in Australia, full coverage is available across Australia.

Isatphone Pro is the satellite phone offered by Inmarsat. The phone has a colour screen and GPS functionality which lets you see and text your GPS location to others. Isatphone has the best battery life amongst all satellite phones. Also from 1st July’2013 onwards, access to ‘000’ emergency number is available on all Isatphones running latest firmware version 5.3.0. Older Isatphones can be upgraded to the new firmware through the website

Isatphone can be used on a prepaid service and offers one of the most reasonable call rates. Prepaid credits start from 25 units onwards. You can top up your sim card as and when you need to use the phone which saves you the ongoing monthly charges. Calls are billed in 15 second increments and there is no flagfall.

For an affordable satphone with good service, Isatphone is the best choice



Globalstar has a moving constellation of 32 satellites orbiting at a height of approx. 1480kms. Globalstar offers full coverage across Australia. However, the service works really well in the southern parts of Australia and connection time can increase significantly as you travel towards north. The voice quality on Globalstar is better than any other network.

Globalstar is offering GSP1600 handset for a low price of $499. The Pivotel Globalstar call plans starts at $15 per month with no minimum contract terms and no activation fee. These plans also come with standard mobile phone number for the satphone, The GSP1600 has a limitation of not being able to send or receive SMS

Globalstar is a good and affordable service, if you wish to use the phone around Victoria, New South Wales and southern parts of South Australia.



Thuraya provides coverage in Asia, Europe and Australia through 2 satellites located in geostationary orbits above the equator. Australia gets Thuraya coverage through the satellite positioned above Singapore. As a result, the coverage is very good in Western & Northern parts of Australia. However, the coverage is patchy in Victoria and New South Wales and non-existent in alpine regions of Victoria.

Thuraya has introduced an exciting new product called Satsleeve. The satsleeve fits onto an iPhone 5 or 5S and converts the iPhone into a satphone. Adapters are available for iPhone 4/4S. The satsleeve has its own battery and sim card but used the iPhone screen & contacts list. Satsleeve battery can also charge the iPhone. The price of the satsleeve is $849 and Pivotel Thuraya plans start at $15 per month.

Govt. Subsidy Scheme

You can also get a subsidy of upto $1000 on the purchase price of satellite phone if you live in or travel to non-mobile phone coverage areas. The subsidy entitles you to 50% off the price of the phone (subject to a maximum of $700) if you intend to travel in remote areas where there is no mobile phone coverage for atleast 180 days over next 2 years. If you live in non-mobile phone coverage area, you are entitled to 85% off (subject to a maximum of $1000).

The above information will give you a starting point to assess the suitability of a satellite phone for you. However, there will be many more questions you may have. The staff at Time Plus Communications will be happy to answer any of your queries. Time Plus can be contacted on 93804172 (Brunswick) and 97869422 (Frankston). You can also get more information on our website

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