I bless the rains down in Africa.
February 2, 2011 4:39 PM   Subscribe

My boyfriend will be in Sierra Leone this summer conducting research for his dissertation. He's looking for recommendations for satellite phone and/or internet service.

He will not have constant access to electricity (he'll be bringing along a netbook with a spare battery), or a cellular network, but would like to have some means of communicating as well as of summoning medical help if he needs it. Not to mention, I'm kind of going to miss him and we'd like to be able to Skype and keep in touch while he's away. He will be in the Sierra Leone hinterland, far outside Freetown.

Thanks in advance for any help!
posted by eunoia to Technology (3 answers total)
My partner worked in Sierra Leone last year and we found communications really difficult and he was mainly in Freetown.

He says you can buy phone credit over there easily, but you have to have a local network and obviously networks can be patchy.

Some hotels do have wireless but only in Freetown and Lungi. You can buy plug-in wireless modems with the local provider, but the reception can be spotty and a bit slow. He used services with Comium and Zain. We never got Skype to work.

He also hired a satellite phone here in Australia and took it over - said he would advise looking into doing this if possible. It is expensive, but they are for emergencies and remote use mainly and worth the peace of mind.

This isn't super helpful, I know!
posted by jasperella at 5:28 PM on February 2, 2011

I would recommend that he sign up for a voice plan that uses the Iridium network. Iridium's network utilizes a low earth orbit satellite constellation that provides true global coverage and less of a voice delay than a satellite networks that rely on satellites in a geosynchronous orbit. Iridium's phone and service plans need to be purchased through a reseller. Check out http://www.satellitephone.com/index.php for more information.
posted by speedoavenger at 7:32 PM on February 2, 2011

He might want to look into buying or hiring a BGAN.
posted by embrangled at 2:21 AM on February 3, 2011

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