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Old 02-12-2012, 15:21   #1
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Satellite Phones

Hi to all,I posted a couple of months back asking advice on recieving weather at sea.I have decided to go with a sat phone over SSB.can I ask any aussie sailors the best way to go.I need to know how to set up the phone so I can get weather on an andriod tablet.Do I just plug it in and get internet?? what is the best app?? or do i just plug in and look up a weather site.I need to know from an aussie or someone that sails around here.As it will have to be an aussie sat account (it can't be from USA).Also which is the best cost effictive supplier? pre or post paid? I looked at one and it only goes as far as 500 nm of the aussie coast.I need it for the pacific puddle jump.All the advice I see on CF is for US sailors.Any help would be great.Paul.
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Old 02-12-2012, 15:39   #2
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Re: satellite phones

You need an Iridium phone as that is the cheapest system that has worldwide coverage. You can buy a used one cheap on ebay (that's what I did). You definitely do not 'just get on the internet' You'll bankrupt yourself and die of boredom waiting for pages to load. Best to get your weather info by email.

I'd post more but have to go out now. If you haven't got the answer you need I'll post more info tomorrow.
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Old 02-12-2012, 16:09   #3
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Re: satellite phones

He's right. Internet over a satellite phone is just not practical. Email is about the best you can do. You can either subscribe to a weather routing service that will send you emails every day or two to keep you updated, or you can send your position to someone onshore who can go to the relevant internet weather sites for you and send you a synopsis.
I tried once to download a grib file from gribus.com via satelite phone, and it never came through. Then I tried having someone send it to me as an email attachment. Took over an hour to finally get it all, after having to re-connect the satelite phone about 5 times.
That might have been barely tolerable if we had been at anchor, but not in 20 ft seas!
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Old 02-12-2012, 16:20   #4
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Re: satellite phones

Go to Global Marine Network and purchase their internet black box that plugs into the Iridium. Then purchase their software for weather and email. It is fast no brainer and works fine. They also have a whole suit of software designed to work witht he Iridium like GRIB file viewer weather intenet email etc.. The black box wokrs like any wireless router.
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Old 02-12-2012, 16:22   #5
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Re: satellite phones

Hi all,I am still confused (this is not hard).I would think getting e-mail you are on the internet.What I need to know is how do I get e-mail on a sat phone.Do I just plug it into my tablet?? do I need some kind of modem??
Am I getting someone to send me mail??
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Old 02-12-2012, 16:42   #6
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Re: satellite phones

Yes, if you can receive email you are definitely on the internet. The difference is that an email, being a simple text file, uses far less bandwidth than opening Internet Explorer and browsing Amazon.com, for example.

I have an account with Global Marine Network, downloaded their email and browsing software, and it does work. It's just nowhere near as fast enough to allow real internet browsing. If you remember Compuserve and the old dial-up modems at 14.4 K, that's about the performance you can expect.

So, uploading/downloading photos is difficult, and streaming video is out of the question. Also consider that the satelite phone needs a clear view of the sky to have a good signal, and that satelites are low earth orbit, so they come and go. It is not uncommon to lose the signal when sending or receiving, and have to start over.

All that just says that the shorter the message you're trying to send/receive. the better.
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Old 02-12-2012, 16:53   #7
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Re: satellite phones

To answer your other question. The satellite phone itself is the modem. There is a module that plugs onto the bottom of the Iridiom phone that has a USB connection to connect to your PC.

Once you have installed the Global Marine Networks software and drivers for the modem, you just connect the module to the bottom of the phone, run a USB cable from there to your PC, and initiate a connection via the phone. It will automatically log in and go fetch your email.

You can configure it to go fetch your email from all your email accounts at gmail, yahoo, etc., but I decided to use their account XXX@gmn-usa.com as it came with the software subscription, and I didn't want to deal with using my satellite minutes to download a lot of spam or otherwise worthless junk.
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Old 02-12-2012, 17:17   #8
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Re: Satellite Phones

For Aus I'd recommend getting an Inmarsat Isatphone pro. The Inmarsat network is better for lower lattitudes, as they have geostationary sattelites (equatorial orbits). Once you have a good signal it won't drop out, because you'll be using the same sattelite for the entire call.

Contact AST Australia. AST Australia: Satellite Communications Solutions The guys there are extremely helpful. Also you can get a government rebate of 50% of the cost of the phone if you're going to be out of mobile or landline telephone areas within Australia for 180 days in the next 2 years. It's a simple form to fill out, and we had approval in under 2 hours.

The Isatphone pro is only around $750 to buy, - $375 after the rebate!

You can download the Onsatmail program to your laptop, then subscribe to free grib file downloads. Just takes a little setting up to get the laptop to use the satphone as it's modem. View the gribs either on UGrib, or Open CPN - again free download programs. Onsatmail also does e-mail, but you can send text messages reasonably cheaply from the phone, (50c) and using the AST Aus website, other people can text you free. The guys at AST can e-mail you step-by-step instructions on how to set it up, although I didn't find the GRIB viewer they suggested to be as good as UGrib or Open CPN.

We buy pre-paid time, obviously the bigger the plan the cheaper per minute, but they're generally somewhere around $1.00 per minute. I was downloading grib files one at a time, was finding it always seemed to take about 1:05 minutes to get a grib file, and billing is per 30 second block. SO I started subscribing to 2 gribs, and was getting them in under 1:30, so the same cost.

Hope this helps!
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Old 02-12-2012, 17:38   #9
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Re: Satellite Phones

Thankyou 44'cruising cat you have been extremely helpfull.I think our other friends did not read the bit in my post that it has to be an aussie account.I heard about the rebate but didnt think that I woyuld fall into it.How do they know how long you will be out of the country.How does the rebate work? sounds to good to be true.
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Old 02-12-2012, 17:47   #10
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Re: Satellite Phones

44'cruising cat you are a star! I just read the form and i do fit into the category.I nearly bought a phone last week being sure i wouldn't fit into the rebate.I am so glad i didnt.Now i can get a brand new sat phone for $400.I spose are goverment can be great sometimes.
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Old 02-12-2012, 17:53   #11
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Re: Satellite Phones

The rebate is for Australian use only. It's for people who can't access normal communications in Aus territories. If you're going to be OS for all of the next 2 years, you won't qualify for it.

We actually bought our satphone for the trip to Vanuatu, but we are also going to be up cape york, the gulf and the kimberlies in the 2 year period. There's a form you fill out, which asks what areas you plan to be in where mobile or landline access isn't available. There are plenty of such places in Aus even in the Whitsundays!

OOPS< just saw your most recent post! Great that you meet the criteria!
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Old 02-12-2012, 18:31   #12
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Re: Satellite Phones

thuraya.com Sat is also a possibility that somebody with more knowledge might comment on. I looked into it some while back but just as an info gathering exercise.

It is probably the lowest call cost available (anywhere from memory) predominantly directed at Asia but the footprint also covers part of Aus. Not sure of "allowable" use in Aus but I suspect it might beat our pampered telcos even with the subsidy, but if not at least it can be used outside Aus.
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