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A satellite phone is the Rolls Royce of emergency communications.
It will work anywhere with a clear sky view, because, as the name suggests, it connects with communications satellites. But, like a Rolls Royce motor car, a satellite phone (sat phone) is expensive to purchase and to operate and is bigger and heavier than the alternatives.
Advantages of a sat phone
- Two-way voice or text conversations from any location, so the nature of an emergency or delay can be discussed with emergency services, the trip contact, family, roadside assistance or whomever.
- It can be used to obtain information such as weather forecasts or fire warnings.
- An inbuilt GPS provides a location, which can be sent via text (SMS) message.
- Very useful on extended trips in remote areas.
- Can be hired for extended trips rather than purchased, with a group sharing the cost.
Disadvantages of a sat phone
- High purchase cost
- High cost of sat phone plans and calls
- Relatively heavy and bulky
- More difficult to operate than a mobile phone
- Battery needs to be kept charged
Using a sat phone effectively
- Ensure all useful and emergency contacts are stored in the unit.
- Ensure several group members can operate the phone.
- Keep instructions with the phone.
- Ensure any screen lock PINs or passwords are known by the group.
- Have clear sky view when operating.
- Use a double check system to ensure the phone is turned off after use.
- Store in a secure waterproof pouch or container.
- Keep the phone warm to maximise battery efficiency.
- Carry a second battery for the phone, only to be used in an emergency.
- Consider hiring for an extended trip. The group or club can share costs.
Note:, This section intentionally avoids excessive technical detail.