10 Forms of Off-Grid and Remote Communication

| 11/1/2016 1:56:00 PM

Electronic Communication for Remote Locations

Electronic communications can be limited when off-grid and/or remote. Off-grid means you must generate your own electricity to power phones and radios, while remote means you might be out-of-range to connect.

electronic handhelds

Left to right: cell phone, smart phone, satellite phone, HAM transceiver, Walkie Talkies

Cell phones and smart phones work fine if you’re within range of a cell tower, but often remote locations get only a single bar of signal strength, and that is sometimes only in one particular spot, not even necessarily at your home. With a reduced signal, text messages get thru, Internet will use up more data because of errors and re-transmission. Only with better signal can voice calls be completed. It can be very frustrating to go outside to the “phone spot” to make or wait for a call.  Weather conditions can make weak signal strength go to zero.

Amateur HAM Radio requires a license, while Citizens Band and FRS Walkie Talkies do not. HAM, CB, and FRS radios use different frequencies than police, fire, and forest service. The two-meter HAM band, CB, and FRS are all useless when there is a hill between sender and receiver, and limited to a few miles when used without obstructions. HAM has the advantage of connecting to repeaters that re-transmits your signal, thereby extending the range. It’s best to try the repeaters in your area to discover who’s available. In a request for emergency help, a HAM would have to call another HAM via repeater and then the second HAM would use the local phone to call the authorities. HAM operators are allowed more power, including the short-wave band that is used to reach across the country.

Weather radios and AM/FM radios are receivers. NOAA broadcasts weather for localized regions around the country and the extreme weather alerts are very helpful.

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