While regional Australia waits for the NBN to deliver on its high-speed wireless promise, here’s a useful if expensive stop-gap. Trades, farmers and miners working in out of range locations often have to turn to satellite phones to communicate.
Optus has released an updated Thuraya SatSleeve which is compatible with the iPhone 6 and Samsung Galaxy. The SatSleeve fits around the smartphone, clicks into the data port and connects to any nearby satellites.
Users can make voice calls, send text messages and send and receive data (for example, with their apps) even when they’re out of remote range.
Unfortunately the SatSleeve doesn’t work natively with the smartphone’s phone and texting apps. All communications must go through the free SatSleeve app (iTunes or Google Play). However, the app can call anyone in your contacts.
A neat feature for remote workers is the SOS button which can be preprogrammed and works even when the SatSleeve isn’t connected to the iPhone.
It’s not cheap. The unit costs A$800 plus up to another A$100 for a connector. It also faces the usual problems of sat phones such as a direct line of sight to the satellite (no indoor calls).
Earlier SatSleeves fit older phone models including the iPhone 5S, 5, 4s and 4, as well as Samsung Galaxy S5, S4 and S3 handsets.