Traditionally, satellite phones have been a bulky standalone handset which meant you had to carry two phones -- your personal phone and your sat phone.
Previously only available online or through an external dealer network for outright purchase, the Optus Thuraya SatSleeve transforms compatible iPhone and Android smartphones into a satellite phone. And now you can pick them up on a 24 month plan.
The SatSleeve creates a Wi-Fi signal to connect with the smartphone and is controlled through a SatSleeve Hotspot app. Once the device and sleeve are connected, if users are out of mobile range, incoming calls can be diverted to the satellite phone free of charge for existing Optus mobile customers.
You can also make outgoing calls or send SMS via their smartphone using the satellite connection.
The regular retail price is $888 or $37 a month over 24 months (Minimum cost $888 over 24 months). Satellite access cost $15 month to month and additional call, SMS and data usage charges apply when using the satellite network.
The SatSleeve will be now stocked in selected stores across Queensland, New South Wales and the Northern Territory, with more stores to follow in coming months.
Steve Long, Director of Local Markets at Optus, said the SatSleeve represented a fantastic solution for customers travelling in Australia, saying as long as you have a SatSleeve and a direct line of sight to the sky, you can make calls, send SMS or check your emails across Australia.
Long recognisies this isn't a product for most people, since the 4G network is expanding rapidly. "But for fly-in fly-out workers in mining or gas exploration locations, to grey nomads and tourists traversing our expansive country, the SatSleeve provides coverage to even the most isolated parts of Australia," Mr Long said
By rolling out the Optus SatSleeve to retail stores and providing a pay-over-time option, Optus is hoping to make mobile connectivity in remote locations "easier and more accessible than ever before".