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What you need to know about the Big One and owning a Smart satellite phone
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I seem live in a disaster prone village (but don’t we all?).
In 2006, this poor car was a victim of Typhoon Milenyo.

Car in our village

In 2009, I never thought I would see my street submerged in thigh-high water (my thigh, not Michael Jordan’s)

Never thought this would happen in our village

Thankfully we haven’t been flooded since then. But honestly, we live on an fault line. Chunks of earth are literally just falling off the sides of hills, which have houses on top. Think Cherry Hill.
This photo was taken last February 2017.

Earthquake sign

This April we felt the tremors from earthquakes that were strongest in Batangas.
For a few years now, we’ve been waiting for the Big One. They say it’s bound to happen in our lifetime. I don’t even want to think about it cause I’m getting an anxiety attack…

Because of the recent earthquakes I decided to charge my satellite phone and posted it on Instagram. I received many inquiries on how and where to get one, hence this blog post.

In 2015, I won a satellite phone in a raffle during the SmartSAT launch. Two years later, thank God I’ve never had to use it. Luckily, Tina Mariano, Head of Smart World, suggested a tutorial and sent someone to teach me.

Smart satellite phone

Here’s a dummy’s guide to the Smart Satellite phone.

First, how to get one:
The SMART SAT phone is available over the counter (since it comes in a prepaid package) at any SMART
Wireless Center/store nationwide. No need to present documents, IDs, or proof of billing.
There are also SMART accredited dealers who supply this.
All SMART Wireless Centers have stock. Those who wish to purchase units in bulk can inquire from the sales team in charge of the product.

You can also purchase online.

How much?
Package price is Php 38,500.00. Yes it sounds expensive, but it’s almost the same price as an iPhone or a Samsung Galaxy Note. It includes a prepaid SMART Sat SIM card with a pre-load value of 120 units (1 unit = 1 US dollar) valid for use within a period of 1 year from the date of activation.
The Smart Sat SIM uses Smart Sat Top-Up load with denominations of 35, 100 and 250 units.

Smart satellite SIM

Here’s the special SIM.

Smart satellite phone

How to use:
1) Make sure it’s fully charged, but do not overcharge and especially not overnight.
2) Put the SIM inside.
3) Turn on the unit by pressing the red call button for five seconds.

Smart satellite phone

4) Check the signal.
Once the SmartSAT is on, go to an open area, like outdoors. This will not work inside a building.
To use my phone, we went up to my dad’s penthouse balcony to search for the southwest direction (satellite location
if you are in the Philippines, will vary when you are in other countries) on a compass app. There are 2 Thuraya satellites, one is over Singapore and the other is above Africa.

Southwest compass

5) Pull-out the antenna and point it to the southwest direction to find a signal.
There, I got one! Your screen must show Thuraya Philippines, not Emergency Only.

Smart satellite phone

Not this:

Smart satellite phone

6) Do a balance inquiry.
Dial *151# then wait for a text message prompt from the network.

*Note that your prepaid Smart Sat kit comes with a load of 120 units. One unit = one dollar
You may reload using Smart Sat cards, also available in denominations of 30, 100 and 250 units.
Your load expires after one year upon activation. To reload and make the SIM active, you need to buy 250 units (annual renewal).

In case your load expires after the one year anniversary of activation, the subscriber is given a 90-day grace period to load the required 250 units. During this grace period, the subscriber can only receive incoming calls and SMS. He or she can’t make calls or send SMS.

The SmartSAT phone works much like any other mobile phone. It can call any landline or mobile phone in the world. It can send SMS to any mobile phone in the world. It does not have wifi, apps, or social media. It is simply a call and text phone.

SmartSAT’s network enables clear communications and uninterrupted coverage across 2/3 of the globe via satellite. Asia, Africa, Australia, Europe, and the Middle East.
It does not cover the United States.
To see a list of covered areas, click HERE.

7) How to call:
You simply key in the number with + before it. Start with the country code, then the area code if it is a landline. For example, to call a landline in Metro Manila, dial +63 (country code for the Philippines) 2 (area code for Metro Manila) then the number then hit the call button (green phone button).
To call a mobile phone, dial +63 (country code) then the mobile number without the 0. For example, +639152927963 then hit the call button.

Maintenance:
You’ll never know when disaster will strike so it’s best to check the battery monthly.
But if you’re on Twitter like me, you’ll have an idea when a typhoon is coming. That’s when you can make sure your battery and load are full.

PS. Don’t charge the battery until you reach 20% or below.
A fully charged battery on standby can last up to two days, while talk time is one hour.

Special thanks to Jojo Concepcion of Smart Technical Operations-Global Access for coming over to demonstrate the unit. 🙂

Jojo Concepcion

In the Philippines, SmartSAT is used by multinationals, mining companies and fishing boat operators. It is also used by the military, media, for disaster preparedness, relief operations and the maritime industry.
After Typhoon Yolanda, those with satellite phones, like Anderson Cooper lent their units to connect survivors with their worried families.
The Smart Satellite phone can be taken to places where there is no signal, such as hiking trails and exotic resorts.

For more information, go to http://smart.com.ph/Satellite/smart-sat/faqs.

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