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#222344 - 04/26/11 07:09 PM Re: Back up plan for poor cell phone coverage? [Re: Bingley]
Roarmeister Online   content
Old Hand

Registered: 09/12/01
Posts: 914
Loc: Saskatchewan, Canada
Yep, a competitor's pp phone is a good idea but so is carrying/buying a phone card or carrying coins for regular old pay phones. During an emergency, the cell system is more likely to be overloaded rather than just being out of range. When I vacationed in Yellowstone last year I was out of cell-phone range for the majority of the trip. "Ahhh, peace and quiet! I loved it."

Or of course you could learn semaphore and smoke signals! laugh

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#222347 - 04/26/11 07:50 PM Re: Back up plan for poor cell phone coverage? [Re: Roarmeister]
chaosmagnet Offline
Sheriff
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 12/03/09
Posts: 3161
Loc: USA
Originally Posted By: Roarmeister
Yep, a competitor's pp phone is a good idea but so is carrying/buying a phone card or carrying coins for regular old pay phones.


I don't see a lot of payphones out there any more.

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#222351 - 04/26/11 09:40 PM Re: Back up plan for poor cell phone coverage? [Re: Bingley]
Blast Offline
INTERCEPTOR
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 07/15/02
Posts: 3561
Loc: Spring, Texas
For what it's worth, my $10 Tracfone (http://www.tracfone.com/) gets the best reception out in the wild of any phone I've seen, plus I don't have to worry about damaging an expensive object.

-Blast
_________________________
Blogging the Borderlands
Wild Edibles Blog
I miss OBG.

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#222374 - 04/27/11 03:24 AM Re: Back up plan for poor cell phone coverage? [Re: Bingley]
Aussie Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 11/12/10
Posts: 205
Loc: Australia
A cheap pre-paid is a good backup especially if you are travelling to an area where you won’t have coverage with your regular phone. Consider getting some kind of waterproof cover too and think about charging options (eg car charger etc).
Be sure and leave the number with the folk at home so that in a non-emergency you can call them (and have them call you back) so you don’t run out of credit; or you can have them make an emergency call on your behalf …

I have heard of people just caring a handset with no sim (or an expired sim) and relying on the requirement of all telcos to accept an emergency call (You should check in your part of the world if this is true). I’m not sure that I’d be comfortable with that especially when you consider the “low” price of a pre-paid!

Probably most of our emergencies are really inconveniences, so being able to make a call to a non-emergency contact (a ranger or family at home) would be a good idea. So I’d get a pre-paid.

Regarding a SPOT, these are great for (remote) tracking your progress or for a real emergency, however they are one-way communication. If you do set one off it can still be hours (or days – esp in bad weather) before help can reach you. If you did have phone coverage, you can get information about how long before rescue reaches you, and you can receive instructions about what to do.

I can speak from experience with Iridium based sat phones in Australia, getting a signal can take some time. Sometimes there is no problem at all. On occasions I’ve failed to get a signal, tried an hour or two later and managed to get signal (because a satellite have come over the horizon). Once you get a signal you try not to move the phone, complete your business and hang up ! I’m not sure that the other sat companies (or handsets) are necessarily any better (at least in my part of the world). Sat phones tend to be expensive too !

Any satellite communication (SPOT or phone) will be hampered by steep terrain, so if you’re in a canyon or deep valley you may not be able to get a signal out – but I guess that goes for a regular cell phone too !


Edited by Aussie (04/27/11 03:24 AM)

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#222383 - 04/27/11 07:32 AM Re: Back up plan for poor cell phone coverage? [Re: Aussie]
comms Offline
Veteran

Registered: 07/23/08
Posts: 1502
Loc: Mesa, AZ
[quote=Aussie

Regarding a SPOT, these are great for (remote) tracking your progress or for a real emergency, however they are one-way communication. If you do set one off it can still be hours (or days – esp in bad weather) before help can reach you. If you did have phone coverage, you can get information about how long before rescue reaches you, and you can receive instructions about what to do.

Any satellite communication (SPOT or phone) will be hampered by steep terrain, so if you’re in a canyon or deep valley you may not be able to get a signal out – but I guess that goes for a regular cell phone too !
[/quote]

I don't like being a Sharpshooter Aussie but your statements above about SPOT2 are incorrect or a straw mans argument.

SPOT2 is fully capable of working in deep canyons. HERE is one of many pages you can Google to refute that line of thinking.

While SPOT2 is a one way communicator, it is a communicator with in a worst case environment 90%+ success rate for communication when there is no cell phone coverage. It is a straw mans argument to state it will take days for rescue when the fact is without communication, specifically cell phone coverage, there would be no notice of SOS for rescue.

Standard Disclaimer for myself, but regardless if a person uses GlobalStar/SPOT or other PLB unit, it works when there is no cell phone coverage over 80% of the globe.
_________________________
Don't just survive. Thrive.

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#222387 - 04/27/11 11:28 AM Re: Back up plan for poor cell phone coverage? [Re: comms]
hikermor Online   content
Geezer in Chief
Geezer

Registered: 08/26/06
Posts: 6941
Loc: southern Cal
You have a lot of faith in a company that has experienced recent recalls of two of its products.

I have deep roots in the pre-electronics era,when Sir Galahad was not just around the corner, ready to ride to rescue at a moments notice. The emphasis then (if you were at all prepared) was on extricating your party from the fix they were in, and secondarily on contacting an outside agency for assistance.

I think that is still a pretty good protocol, because there is still a inevitable lag before rescuers can deal with your situation, and that time can be critical.

I chuckle when I think of receiving instructions over a cell phone: "See that box of matches? Reach inside and extract one of the sticks with the red blob on the end. Hold the stick firmly between the thumb and forefinger, red blob outward. Now forcefully move the red blob against the side of the matchbox where the scratchy stuff is... You do have some fire tinder, right?....."
_________________________
Geezer in Chief

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#222396 - 04/27/11 03:10 PM Re: Back up plan for poor cell phone coverage? [Re: Bingley]
KenK Offline
"Be Prepared"
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 06/26/04
Posts: 2027
Loc: NE Wisconsin
I've had a PLB for a number of years - long enough for the battery life to become questionable. It has provided a lot of comfort to my family while out and about.

With the new upcoming tiny ACR model coming out for around $250, they've hit a price point where - at least for me - there is much less hesitance to make the purchase ... and it matches the cost of installing a new battery on my current older ACR model.

I'd just go with the PLB and not have to pay any ongoing service costs over the years, wonder whether you'll get reception when hell breaks loose, wonder if the phone will survive whatever happened, and KNOW that help will be able to find you even if you are truley lost ... or too injured to reliably give information. Its a pretty awesome technology.

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#222398 - 04/27/11 04:20 PM Re: Back up plan for poor cell phone coverage? [Re: Bingley]
Arney Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 09/15/05
Posts: 2485
Loc: California
Does anyone know the current status of the old TDMA/AMPS network in the US? AT&T had the single biggest chunk of that technology but the last time I have read anything about this topic a number of years ago, it sounded like they were agressively shutting those parts of it network down as quickly as it could while it built out its GSM capability. Haven't read about that in a long time. This is something that mostly affects those rural and out-of-the-way areas, but that's the OP's concern.

Are there even any analog pre-paid phones anymore? Tracphone used to be one, but haven't they switched to all CDMA handsets now?

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#222400 - 04/27/11 04:24 PM Re: Back up plan for poor cell phone coverage? [Re: Arney]
chaosmagnet Offline
Sheriff
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 12/03/09
Posts: 3161
Loc: USA
AMPS is dead in the US. D-AMPS (sometimes known as TDMA) is also dead. Phones based on those technologies will not work.

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#222438 - 04/28/11 03:21 AM Re: Back up plan for poor cell phone coverage? [Re: Bingley]
Aussie Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 11/12/10
Posts: 205
Loc: Australia
There are some good points here. I've only used a SPOT "original" (and Iridium sat phones) in my part of the world, and I'm Not saying it will "never work in canyons", but I have experienced limited coverage. I agree that virtually any satellite device will have far greater coverage that any phone network.

The claims in the article do make the SPOT2 seem quite a bit better than the original, and I’m impressed by the claimed 90% “delivery” for deep canyons in the Americas.

SPOT themselves claim: “in everyday conditions it is normal for some messages to be blocked by your environment, such as hills or buildings….. scheduled to automatically send multiple messages… [giving] overall reliability” I take it this means that it will keep retrying until it can actually send the message, so if you are in a canyon or similar the messages may not be sent until you reach a suitable piece of sky or a satellite positions itself above you, and then the messages can get out ?

I’m sure that (eventually) 90% plus of messages are “delivered”, but not necessarily 90% delivered “real time” ? This just means that your SOS message may not get set instantly.
If you did 5 days of canyoning (as per the article) I guess people would go in and out of the narrows of the canyon and perhaps its then that their SPOT messages were sent (90%). But if you were stationary with a causality in the narrows of the canyon I wonder if the message would get out ? Of course no other device would work there either !

But I’m not really wanting to discuss canyoning – it is a fairly specific circumstance.

For general outdoor, open sky use SPOT or sat phone – no problem.
In more confined, deep valleys, I have seen issues with original SPOT and do need to resend – it looks like SPOT2 automatically resends, so this is a real plus; and I have also had problems getting signal with my sat phone.

As Comms says the overall SPOT and PLB coverage is fantastic– I urge everyone to buy a SPOT or PLB or similar device and don’t leave home without it. (And don’t forget spare batteries/useby dates)

And I’m not saying “don’t get a SPOT or PLB”, just pointing out that EVERY technology does have some limitations even if most people may never encounter them.

That’s it !

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