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Emergency SOS via Satellite is now available in Australia

06 Nov 2023


If you are stranded in the Outback or any of the many places across regional and remote Australia without cellular coverage, Apple's Emergency SOS Satellite calling could be a lifesaver.


Where has SOS via Satellite saved lives?

Apple's Emergency SOS via Satellite was launched in the US and Canada in November 2022, and extended to Australia and New Zealand in May 2023.
Since its inception, it has already saved lives in 12 countries, including:

Arthurs Pass, Christchurch, New Zealand

September 2023
Two hikers were rescued by helicopter after being trapped by rising river waters. The pair were in the Arthurs Pass national park, northwest of Christchurch, when they found themselves in danger from rising water levels.  Unable to cross a river and walk out, they utilised Apple SOS via Satellite.  Being able to report their situation and exact location, allowed a West Coast Air Rescue helicopter to locate them and airlift them to safety.
West Coast Air Rescue Helicopter, New Zealand

San Rafael, Utah

April 2023

Three university students trapped in freezing waters, in the canyons of the San Rafael recreation area, were rescued after using the SOS satellite feature to call for help. One of the students, Jeremy Mumford, explained: “The canyon was about 500ft deep with sheer rock walls, but about every 20 minutes a satellite would line up with where we were in the canyon and, by holding the phone up, we could get a signal where we could text 911 to Emery County.”  Hypothermic shock had set in by the time a responding helicopter was able to winch the students to safety, likely saving their lives.

Maui, Hawaii

August 2023

Five members of a family were trapped in a van during the Maui wildfires. According to Michael J. Miraflor's post on X the wildfires "abruptly ignited in their vicinity." Fortunately, one individual among the van's occupants had an iPhone 14. "No cell service, so Apple Emergency SOS was the only way they could get in contact with first responders. It literally saved their lives," he wrote.

Hawaii Maui wildfires death tollVehicles caught in Maui wildfires, Hawaii

Los Angeles National Park, San Diego

July 2023

Juana Reyes fell when a trail collapsed beneath her in the Los Angeles National Forest resulting in a broken ankle.  "All I can remember was yelling, 'My foot,' and trying to get up, but I couldn't. The pain was just so unbearable." The group Reyes was with decided to call for help, only to realise their cell phones were out of range. Thankfully one hiker had an iPhone 14 and was able to activate the SOS via Satellite function and a helicopter was sent to the rescue. "It was definitely a lifesaver and worth every investment. It was my saving grace," said Reyes pictured below with the phone and her rescuers.

Juana Reyes with rescuers including Mike Leum from LA County Sheriff's Office

Grand County, Utah

August 2023

A 38-year-old woman was hiking in the Mary Jane Canyon with her dog when flash flooding occurred. The woman  tried to reach higher ground, however, she and her dog were swept about 150-200ft (50 metres) down the canyon gorge by raging waters before reaching a sand bank. Stranded on the bank the woman quickly activated her iPhone’s Emergency SOS feature, which was received as a GPS location but without details about her emergency situation.

Rescuers  deployed a search team on foot and a helicopter to scan the canyon. The helicopter crew spotted the woman’s dog about two miles downstream from the coordinates sent by the SOS message. Although unable to land in the treacherous canyon terrain, they were able to guide rescuers on the ground. When found, the woman was covered head to toe in mud and missing her shoes. She told rescuers she believed her SOS text had failed to send, so she began making her way out of the canyon on her own. 

Mary Jane Slot Canyon offers hidden waterfall | KSL.comMary Jane Canyon, Moab, Utah

McBride Canada


Two women returning from a trip to Alberta in Canada were rescued after taking an ill-fated detour due to a highway closure. Checking Google Maps for an alternate route they had decided to take a Forest Service Road but after driving 20km, the women hit a dead end, and then got stuck in thick snow. Activating the Emergency SOS via Satellite feature on their iPhone 14 sent the GPS location to the Robson Valley Search and Rescue unit.

“They found them, pulled their vehicle out and got them turned around and back on their way. It’s kind of thing that it potentially may have saved their life," said Dwight Yochim, Senior Manager, BC Search and Rescue.  “If they hadn’t had the Apple iPhone 14 handy, what would have happened is eventually the family or their work would have said 'hey, they didn’t show up' and so the search area would have been from wherever they were last seen, to where they were supposed to be, and that could have been several hundred kilometres."

Enterprise wireless brochure to download

What mobile phones can access SOS Satellite calling?

Emergency SOS via satellite is available from Apple on the iPhone 14 and iPhone 15 series phones, and is free for two years from activation of the device. 

A number of Android devices also have a satellite SOS feature, specifically the Google Pixel, and Motorola Defy series.
The Pixel also sends earthquake alerts in some locations. In New Zealand, alerts about nearby earthquakes of magnitude 4.5 and above, based on the Android Earthquake Alerts System, are sent to phones in the vicinity.

satellite sos in remote area featured image


How does SOS Satellite Calling work?

Satellite networks are also known as Non-Terrestrial Networks or NTN.

NTN use satellites to enable 2-way interaction over mountains, deserts, or in the middle of the ocean, to eliminate communication blind spots.

With a terrestrial ground-based network, your mobile phone connects to the closest cell tower using radio waves. There are many reasons why this connection could be disrupted, but in remote and regional Australia, the most common cause is distance from the nearest tower combined with natural barriers, like geography and vegetation.

With an NTN,  when a user initiates a call or SMS their device communicates with satellites overhead. These satellites relay the signals to ground stations and then in turn to terrestrial cell towers for connection with the intended recipient.

The NTN bypasses the terrestrial network barriers of geography and distance from a tower. So long as the user has a 90 degree clear view of the sky, connection with a satellite passing overhead is possible. 


How does SOS Satellite calling on iPhone work?

 The Apple Emergency SOS satellite service is run entirely on text message.
When you attempt to call 000 in Australia and are unable to connect, your iPhone will prompt you to try Emergency SOS Text via Satellite. 
When you have no mobile and Wi-Fi coverage, you can text emergency services via satellite.
There is an application on your iPhone that will walk you through a series of questions to help first responders understand the nature of your emergency. Follow the prompts to answer the questions as below.
emergency sos satellite screenshots 1-4
 emergency sos satellite screenshots 5-8
After this, the iPhone helps you to find a satellite.
A text message with the information you have added is sent and retrieved by a relay centre staffed with Apple-trained emergency specialists. 
They pass on the information to Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) — or emergency services call centres — on the userʼs behalf, to get them the help they need.
This is a technology still in its early stages of development. In many cases the person calling for help may or may not know if the SOS has been received. A response will be dependent on the availability and duration of the satellite connectivity.
When you use Emergency SOS via satellite, you can share your Medical ID and notify your emergency contacts. However, you will need to set up this information prior to going somewhere with no mobile or Wi-Fi coverage.


MobileCorp - for smart remote connectivity

MobileCorp is a leading Australian MSP providing cellular connectivity solutions for your people, places and things.

For regional and remote cellular connections we can offer a choice of

  • a Connected Vehicle 'network in a box' solution
  • a cellular + satellite solution
  • amplified Cel-Fi cellular connection

We have connected a range of locations in regional and remote Australia that have poor mobile reception. These include correctional facilities, defence force sites, national parks venues, and construction sites.

We also provide In-Building cellular coverage solutions for both urban and regional business sites. 

Contact us to find out if we can resolve your connectivity issue.

Enterprise wireless brochure to download

About MobileCorp

MobileCorp is an enterprise ICT solutions company with a mission to deliver our customers a communications technology edge. We provide Managed Mobility Services, Enterprise Mobility Management, Complex Data and IP Networks, and Unified Communication solutions. We have a proven track record providing managed services for Australian enterprise and business, and we are a Telstra Platinum Partner. MobileCorp logo (cotiol)

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