How satellites help when there is no cellular coverage

No cellular network in Australia or New Zealand can provide or guarantee coverage everywhere. At times, it is necessary to call on the additional capability of satellite networks. The extent of this need is driven by several factors.


If a vehicle or person is in a city or regional centre and does not travel outside the urban landscape, there will be almost no need for satellite support.

At the other end of the continuum, you may have lone workers in remote regions such as the Torres Strait Islands, Cape York, or the Kimberley, or are travelling long distances between sites, towns and your customer base. All market verticals have their own challenges. It is critically important to find a specific solution that is fit for your purpose.

Risk management legislation, such as Chain of Responsibility and Duty of Care, affect what you need to do, what you can do, and the need to balance costs and capability.


What exactly are you looking to achieve? For some it’s a case of “we need to provide a duress system for emergency situations, regardless of location”. For others, it’s a “need to have a visualisation of a vehicle or person and their activity and location at all times”. Your scenario may be anywhere on this spectrum.


Hardware costs are only a part of the equation. There are also contracts for connectivity and ongoing data costs. Understanding the exact role and process will influence these costs. Smartrak can structure a package to balance cost with value from features and functions. Smartrak also arranges and manages the entire solution, so you only have one contract.

Device functionality to reduce costs

Smartrak’s devices are fully configurable to cache all events, data and relevant information and synchronise on set, periodic cycles aligned to your business needs. Communication, especially over satellite data, can be expensive, so sometimes caching events and specific data can be beneficial in keeping overheads down without impacting functionality. The trick is to strike a balance that fits your business.

Use case allocation

If the solution is around the individual, the ideal option may be tracking their vehicle over the cellular network, capturing all vehicle-related data, and allocate standalone satellite-based portable safety devices, such as those in the Smartrak Satellite range, for when staff are operating away from the vehicle. The combination of vehicle tracking, and a satellite personal safety device is my personal preference, based on my working experiences. The ability to raise an alarm when several hundred metres away from the vehicle doing an inspection, or in a cellular blackspot in cases of vehicle breakdowns, provided me more flexibility. Every role and deployment can be different, so one size doesn’t always fit all.

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