Need help from African PHs Please Cell Phone Info

Discussion in 'Hunting Africa' started by Cliffy, Dec 4, 2013.

  1. Cliffy

    Cliffy AH Elite

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    I am updating my my seminar for DSC this year and I need info on what if anything has changed as far as clients and cell phone use and service while in camp.
    I have previously talked about clients renting phones at the airport for calls back to the US I have also talked about sat phones, and getting sim cards from their own US carrier.

    What do you see today as the best options for clients to get cell phone service in camp?

    What do they seem to be using now?

    Thanks for any help guys!
  2. Jaco Strauss

    Jaco Strauss AH Elite

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    Cliffy, we are a "dead" zone we use to take guys up to the main house around 3 miles from camp to phone via a satellite land line connection, or just provided them with a Sat phone...

    Last year we. erected a small business centre off to the side in Valamanzi with another Sat connection land line as well as Wifi,
    I have seen guys use an app on their smart phones called "we-phone" this allows the user to pre load airtime and phone via or over an available wi fi service, even though there is no cell service..

    I use it in the states as well, $15 got me around 2 hours of talk time.

    Hope this helps.

    My best always
  3. Mtgoat

    Mtgoat AH Veteran

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    If Internet service is available, Skype is the best option. It is no cost or low cost. There are other similar apps available.
  4. Cliffy

    Cliffy AH Elite

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    I can understand that but what about speed of the internet in Africa Is it fast enough for Skype in most places?
    Sat free wifi at stores or B&Bs? In camp?
    Thanks
  5. Jaco Strauss

    Jaco Strauss AH Elite

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    That is were wiphone comes in at minimal cost, even lower than cell costs...

    With our satellite connection the net is still incredibly slow:)

    My best always
  6. Wheels

    Wheels GOLD SUPPORTER AH Elite

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    Cliffy, I don't know if this is what you are looking for but will try to help for southern Tanzania which I travel to regularly. There probably is no cell coverage in the hunting camps/concessions. If you get close to major roads or even small towns you can get cell coverage. Bandwidth for Skype is poor and the video doesn't match the audio which drives me nuts.(you have to buy a wireless modum, SIM card and prepaid minutes when you get there) I take my cell phone (make sure your carrier unlocks it for you before you leave) buy a SIM card for less than $1 then buy minutes to put on the phone. $20 gives me apx. one hour of calling time to or from the States. This has also worked for me in other African countries if you can get in proximity to cell coverage. If this isn't what you are looking for please disregard.
  7. Mtgoat

    Mtgoat AH Veteran

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    If all you need is voice, Skype can operate at extremely low network speeds. The minimum bandwidth required for a Skype voice call is 30 kbs. The recommended bandwidth is 100 kbs. You can get 56 kbs with dialup internet. In general, internet connections are measured in megabits per second or gigabits per second - that's 1,000 to 1,000,000 times faster than kilobits per second (kbs).

    The easiest way to find out if you have sufficient internet speed is to try a Skype call and see what happens. Alternatively, you can run an internet speed test. To test your internet speed you can use Speedtest.net by Ookla - The Global Broadband Speed Test (or any of the many other ones that are available). Your internet service provider may offer a utility to test their network speed (I'm always skeptical that they might not give accurate data).

    As long as your looking at your internet service, take a look at the modem and the wireless router. If either one is old (say 5 years or greater) it is possible that it is limiting your connection speed. Also, the configuration of your wifi and the placement of the wireless router, can materially impact performance.

    I hope that helps.
  8. Mtgoat

    Mtgoat AH Veteran

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    One more thing... a plain, hard-wired phone line (i.e., landline) will typically give about 56 kbs.

    If you install the mobile app, you can make Skype calls from your mobile phone. If your phone is connected to a wifi, then the cost is the same as if you used a laptop. However, if you make the call over the cellular network, then those calls will be billed at applicable data rates, which may or may not be cheaper than the rates that you'd pay for voice calls. If you are making international calls, it is very likely to be cheaper to use Skype on your mobile - but check first.
  9. Grumulkin

    Grumulkin AH Member

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    For my last trip to South Africa, I used a Blackberry cell phone my provider unlocked for me, with a SIM card I got from Telestial. The SIM card provided a U.S.A. phone number and another out of the British Isles to be used in all other places (which included dozens of countries). During my aproximately 3 weeks absence I called my wife daily, talked as long as I liked and it didn't cost that much (if I remember correctly, less than $200 for the whole trip). It worked great in Paris and everywhere else I tried it in South Africa.
  10. Tootabi Hunting Safaris

    Tootabi Hunting Safaris AH Enthusiast

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    Hi Cliffy

    Cell reception has improved over the years and our major carriers like Vodacom, MTN and Cell C have really done their bit to ensure that most areas are covered by cell signal. However there is still areas where cell reception is poor.

    To use our headquarters as example: We have high speed WiFi internet for our guests to use and also very good cell phone signal. With us, you are not cut of from the outer world though. I would also say that most Outfitters have a good internet connection, whether it may be, WiFi, Satellite or from cellular network providers.

    Kind regards,
  11. Cliffy

    Cliffy AH Elite

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    In doing my research I too find that progress marches on from my first venture into talking about African hunting at DSC. We here in the USA look at wifi and phone service as almost an ethereal experience. Tough times are when your phone drops to 3G or your iPad can't stream video because the signal is too slow. I know of RV (motorhome) folks who can't go "camping " without 3 TVs (one outside and a big screen one at that) and 2 mifi's for cell service and an unlimited data plan for video. To them, Africa seems to be the dark ages.
    What with social networks and smart phones, many can not even go to the bathroom without responding to a text message. Have you ever seen a guy standing at the urinal texting while it hangs loose draining itself? :)
    This is why I want the most up to date info so I can pass it along while I try to entice hunters to try Africa.
    I am updating my Power Point presentation with what I have gleaned here and elsewhere.
    If any of you are at DSC Saturday afternoon, please come to our seminar, "Africa, What's Stopping You" We would be glad to have you fill a seat with us. I thank you one and all.
  12. LeopardsValleySafaris

    LeopardsValleySafaris AH Senior Member

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    Hi Cliffy
    I think the most important thing to do , is ask your outfitter what they have. Once you know that you can plan accordingly.

    We don't have cell reception but have installed WIFI for the lodges. Skype as well as VIBRE are apps used by hunting guests to connect home.
    If all else fails many outfitters have a landline I'm sure they will let you use.
    Regards Dave
  13. Paw Print

    Paw Print SPONSOR AH Fanatic

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    I ussually buy a sim card for the client and give him the number before he arrives.Most places now have cell reception.
  14. Bushman10

    Bushman10 AH Senior Member

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    I am a Technology Analyst (read geek) and a PH and At the recent PHASA (Professional Hunters Association of South Africa) convention I gave a presentation on "Technology and Hunting" where I discussed a number of new technology innovations being used in the hunting industry in SA. One of those components relates to connectivity so if you send me an email to johanj01@telkomsa.net then I can provide you with a number of facts on the topic.

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