Optus pushes Satellite sleeve for remote mobile reception woes
If you’re an Optus customer in a very remote location, a satellite sleeve may be the fix for your mobile woes, as long as you can bear the asking price.
It absolutely sucks when your phone drops connectivity, whether you’re on call, sending a text or just chasing down those elusive rare Pokémon in Pokémon GO. The reasons why you lose connectivity can be simple to determine, such as going into tunnels, or more difficult to determine, such as when telcos have outage events. Within the broad landscape of Australia, however, the more remote you get, the less chance you have of getting any mobile signal at all.
The solution for this for intermittent or regular travellers to the less worn paths around the country has long been to employ satellite phone services. They’re a big part of the mining business in Australia, but less well received generally by consumer groups. Optus has for some time offered satellite sleeves built by Thuraya that offer call, text and data connectivity pretty much anywhere in Australia where you’ve got a direct line of sight to the sky, and by association Thuraya’s constellation of satellite services.
Optus has announced that while its Satsleeve products were previously only available online, it will also be ranging them in selected stores in Queensland, New South Wales and the Northern Territory, with stores in other states to be stocked with the sleeve in following months.
Mobile coverage everywhere? What’s the catch?
There are a few key aspects of the Satsleeve product to be aware of. Firstly, it’s not exactly inexpensive all by itself. Optus sells the Satsleeve product for $888 outright, or $37 per month over 24 months, which equates out directly to that $888 price point.
That only makes you technically capable of using the Satsleeve with your device. There’s then a fixed $15 per month access fee to pay, and then you have to cover the costs of calls, texts and data. Standard national voice calls on satellite cost 95c per minute, SMS will set you back 50c each and data costs $2.50 per MB. Data is charged in 10KB increments and is rated far slower than on comparable 3G or 4G services, with typical speeds in the 60Kbps down and 15Kbps upload range.
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