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The NSW Ambulance service has taken 180 handheld Iridium satellite phones to provide communications facilities for ambulances in remote locations.

The satphones, Iridium 9555 models, along with car mount kits, have been supplied by Iridium service provider, Pivotel. They replace an earlier satellite telephone system.

Satellite phone services such as Iridium are normally accessed via a 'country code', 816 in the case of Iridium. So callers in Australia must dial an international prefix, or + on their cellphone, and Iridium users calling Australia must dial +61, even if they are in Australia.

Pivotel managing director, Peter Bolger, ExchangeDaily "Most people offer Iridium as an international service with an 816 number, but we offer the service with standard Australian mobile numbers. That makes it a lot easier. People don't have to dial an international number and a lot of PABXes bar international calls.

This also means that callers to Iridium phones pay only the normal rate for calling a cellphone. Pivotel covers the difference in the monthly access fee for its service, rather than charging users for individual, incoming calls.

The Iridium handsets do not support data, but Pivotel provides a separate satellite data service to NSW ambulances.

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