Satellite ‘hub’

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Inmarsat satellite hub
Out of range? Just reach for the sky (and your hub).

While travelling in remote Australia will never be anything other than a great adventure, the rapid advances in communications technolo­gy is making it a less daunting prospect than it once was.

Nothing has expanded the grey nomad horizon as dra­matically as the growing ac­cessibility of satellite gadgetry. No matter how far travellers roam from ‘civilisation’, help can always be summoned in the case of an emergency and grandchildren’s birthdays need never be overlooked.

As well as the ability to make “Help!” phone calls, many travellers are looking for the ability to access emails, as well as browse the internet wher­ever they happen to be.

The arrival of the Wideye iSavi satellite hub is the latest leap forward in this depart­ment. This portable satellite terminal allows users to ac­cess the Inmarsat 3G satel­lite network through their own phone, tablet, or laptop. Excitingly, the terminal allows multiple authorised users to access Isathub’s voice and data services at the same time.

The device enables users to talk, text, go online and use their Apple or Android smart­phone apps. Adventurers can stay in touch with friends and family, share news and photos, and stay on top of online banking and weather and road condition reports.

Internet connection speed is impressive, too, with 384 Kbps receive, 240 Kbps send.

The device itself is compact. It weighs 850g and, measures just 179 x 170 x 30mm. Set up is simple. The hub needs to be placed outside where there is clear line of sight to the sky. An easy-to-follow ‘green light’ system guides users through the quick process of positioning the device to most efficiently lock on to a satel­lite. Alternatively, pointing assistance is available via the control app that is download­ed to the user’s smart device.

The simplicity of the process means users can be ready to make calls and access the internet within minutes. The IsatHub voice app provides access to its dedicated, high quality voice line and text messaging even on devices that are ‘Wi-Fi-only’, such as an iPod Touch.

The hub has a Wi-Fi range of 30 metres, and its battery can be recharged by mains or by solar power.

The device costs approx­imately US$1499. Inmarsat then makes the IsatHub service available through a network of partners, each with its own pricing structure. It is expected that typical costs will be in the range of US$3.50-$4 per megabyte of data, around US$1 per minute for calls, and approximately 50 cents per text message.

It’s not cheap but, for many grey nomads, the sheer peace of mind the device can deliver will make it a must-have for all future Outback odysseys.

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