Mobile Devices - Dependency, what is the best way to protect against a device failure or loss of service

Mobile phones are now well integrated into many daily lives. Should we say essential? There’s an assumption the network will always be there. Especially if it’s Telstra who is delivering. But it’s never assured.

How many of us rely on just the one device for most things?
How would we cope if our precious mobile suddenly left our world?

What could possibly go wrong I’d not thought of?

I have two mobiles on different networks and a synchronised cloud back up. There are others in the family who have no plan B, or don’t know how to.
Is my Plan B good enough?
How reliant we all are on mobile connectivity, the community has a number of current topics? Whether it’s 2FA, using a mobile wallet for EFTPOS, calling an Uber, the cashless society, or ….

Telstra just happened to present the recent example referenced. The assumption is Optus and the TPG/Vodafone network have done similar.


Interesting topic that we should all consider. What are the backups in case the usual telecomms go down?

There are solutions that switch to the mobile cell network if NBN is out. But is the reverse available? Assuming of course an existing NBN service. And then routing all mobile phone activity over that service.

Is looking to the heavens better and just go satellite, but as in the movie Gravity, that cannot be assured.

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That is in a sense what WiFi calling and WiFi SMS are. Although I can imagine some telco breakage scenarios that would take out both.

I don’t think the topic of “backup to your mobile phone” can be easily covered due to the wide variety of purposes to which people put mobile phones.

Less dramatically, satellite services have vanilla stuff-up outages too.

Satellite is also likely unavailable in most metro areas. I think that Starlink is outright unavailable (by ‘order’ of the Australian government - (Edit: the post following points out that this information is out of date - Starlink now nominally available throughout the whole of Australia‌)) while Skymuster might be theoretically available but you won’t get a subsidised install (making it unreasonable for many customers).

The next generation of mobile phones may well have direct, usable, general access to satellites anyway. So there’s your backup for basic connectivity right there (calls, SMS, internet). (I’ve written “next gen” because even though current model iPhones already have this, it is emergency SMS only - so hardly a general-purpose backup.)

Nope. Have multiple mobile devices covering all three networks. So any kind of problem at their end I have covered.

However I personally try to minimise dependency on mobile phone anyway. That’s my Plan A. :slight_smile:


Skymuster is available in suburbs as long as NBN Co determine that the cost to provide coverage by any other means is too costly or difficult. Foxtel Satellite was available when Telstra didn’t have coax running past the house (we had it at a previous address), and still many get overseas TV streaming by satellite. I don’t think that someone wanting Starlink services instead of NBN Co provided internet or a dark fibre provider e.g. Telstra, would be prevented from doing so.

From Starlink in Australia: SpaceX's satellite internet explained |

“ When can I get Starlink in Australia?

Starlink is now available to deliver service Australia-wide. Anyone, anywhere in Australia can now order a Starlink plan.

Starlink was initially only able to deliver internet to “low and remote density areas”, but can now also sell plans to people living in cities.

You could, theoretically, order a Starlink plan in inner-city Sydney. Musk has however previously said that Starlink will work best in low-population-density situations.”

Skymuster being provided in urban areas:

The 4013 urban premises to receive NBN satellite - Telco/ISP - iTnews.

I think the biggest problem for Starlink would be saturation of the bandwidth of any satellite in the area of coverage by the number of urban users trying to concurrently use it. Each user in a small arc would probably pick a similar celestial spot for the tuning and so would all be using the same satellite as it passes (this could be large numbers of actual connections in an urban situation). In remote areas this becomes much less of an issue with far less numbers being possibly connected at any one time.


I can’t really consider the Skymuster option being around once the satellites reach end of life in five or so years. Just way too expensive to replace for a rapidly diminishing user base.

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Build a bonfire, get a big blanket, wave blanket over fire to create previously-agreed signals.


Perhaps an ISO standard could remove the previously agreed limitation.

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Well mobile phone access for voice and data has been around for many years. Iridium, Globalstar, Thuraya, Inmarsat. Telstra offers plans for these. These are mobile phones bigger of course as they need more power, and bigger aerials. But about the same size as your Nokia from the 90’s.

Satellite connections like Skymuster or Skylink are not inherently mobile.They require a directed base station transceiver to work. Sure, works from a fixed location like your home, or even a caravan. But it needs to be directed to work. With a dedicated “dish”, not just the puny internal aerial in a mobile phone designed to communicate with local cell network’s base stations a few kilometers away. Or a local WiFi hub.


I’ve often considered what to do if the internet dies… because that will screw our VoIP (and mobile?)… and I’m back to CB Radio. I have a WWM account and an Amaysim account and am considering getting a Voda PAYG account as well, which will cover most difficulties… but if we got fried in an EMP blast… nothing much will work and then we are back to carrier pigeons.

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Actually Starlink now offers an inherently mobile setup e.g. for use in a moving vehicle. The external antenna is (allegedly) rated to 280 km/hr. However both the initial hardware cost and the ongoing monthly cost are substantially higher than the standard Starlink (which in turn is already relatively expensive).

The real point here is that the Skymuster satellite is geostationary i.e. the client hardware expects a fixed direction for the antenna to point (for any given location on earth), and the dish is non-steerable, whereas Starlink has satellites whose position in the sky moves all the time anyway (and with high angular speed) and the dish expects to have to move and to lock on to different satellites at different positions. A terrestrial vehicle is moving comparatively slowly and doesn’t significantly complicate the situation, other than the wind load on the antenna (which is mounted differently for in-motion use as compared with fixed use).

Should be interesting to see people walking around with Starlink transceivers on top of their heads in the future. A variation of the tin foil hat perhaps.


Maybe you would get away with it at Melbourne Cup. :wink:

The actual problem in that scenario is powering it. Mobile in a vehicle is one thing - there is plenty of available stored energy - while mobile for a personal device is much more limited in the availability of stored energy.

Starlink says that the equipment for in-motion use requires “110-150W”. Even the standard (fixed, residential) equipment requires “50-75W”.

The HWT (head worn transceiver) would of course include a backpack of rechargable batteries, and a fold-out solar panel for when one was outdoors on a sunny day.

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Inspired suggestions for how one might take advantage of the connectivity available when ones mobile service suffers a prolonged disruption.

There’s the basic precaution of having a second low cost prepaid with a carrier on the other network (some may have a choice of two others). Once one moves away from urban central the choices can be only Telstra or Telstra.

Someone mentioned the NBN and wifi calling. OK if you are at home, but not if out and about, when one is most likely to want connectivity - to make payments, use the mobiles navigation or …. Simply call a friend.

For us oldies who grew up with connectivity of a different kind - perhaps it’s not so difficult. Assumes one still has a landline. Telegram anyone? Or I could send you a note - postage 5c.

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Um, cash? Seriously, we should all continue to use cash for some transactions. Use it or lose it. We know the government is gunning for cash. Some businesses already won’t take it at all.

Throwing it out there: if navigation is important then an app that has offline maps may suit. That isn’t a backup for a dead mobile but it is a backup for a dead mobile service.

The technological point is that GPS is available everywhere in Australia even when no mobile connectivity and no internet connectivity of any kind is available, the one exception potentially being either that you are underground or in a valley so deep that you might as well be underground. (Japan is attempting to solve the deep valley problem with the QZSS, where the satellites generally have a high elevation i.e. angle above the horizon, when over Japan.)

Not quite the same scenario…
Recently when travelling for a day, I planned to use my phone for work instead of my laptop. However, having left my phone at home, I borrowed one.

I set up the required apps, including my password manager.

But still couldn’t work as 2FA was needed for just about everything. This is because I was using a new, unverified device. Email verification was another option for some sites, but I couldn’t access my email as it needed a 2FA code to log into the server.

In the end, I couldn’t access any of the apps I needed and gave up.


Once you commit to MFA for logins using a mobile phone, either code generating apps, or network sent codes, then you need to make sure you have it with you at all times.
Doesn’t sound like you were really intent on working that day if you eschewed both your laptop and phone.

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In the olden days, people navigated using maps and a compass. I often download maps to my Galaxy pad with its big screen, and if GPS available, good. If cell network available, connect to the Internet via WiFi hub on the phone. If no mobile service or GPS or even pad or phone, then out comes the compass.

The Steet Directory aka Referdex (UBD, Gregory’s, et al), paper road maps (HEMA, auto club), ask a friend who knows, …. Our family car is well stocked, mostly from the olden days when it ventured far from mobile service, and GPS mapping relied on expensive mobile data or a dedicated device.

Caveat - how many know how to read a map? Might consider the ones that come up on the navigation device when it’s in use, hence the need of some to always have the lady (voice assistant) issuing directions.