Option for emergency communications

Looking to get rid of cable TV and VoIP on our FiOS account. But want an option to cell phone for emergencies. Thuraya Sat phones seem too expensive. Hand held Ham devices require a license and range would seem limited. Any suggestions?

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Get your Ham License. Not as hard as it used to be.


What’s your opinion of the BaoFeng BF-F8HP hand held unit?

It’s my understanding that any cell phone that can connect to a tower is required by law to complete a 911 call, even if the customer does not have service with the carrier. Personally I wouldn’t want to live with the risk that represents if it doesn’t work, but I am not you, and you may see the cost savings as more compelling. (Basically it would mean buying a pre-paid SIM I presume, and then not continuing to subscribe. So long as the phone shows a connection to the carrier when powered on, it should work.)

But the deal with Mint mobile where you can get service for as little as $15/mo seems pretty good to me. (Makes me jealous here in Canada, the best deal I can find is $15/mo for just SMS and no phone calls at all.)

Basically I’m looking for a device that will let me make and receive calls or texts when the cell systems and our internet are out. Like after an earthquake.

Freedom Mobile has a CDN $19 per month plan that gives you talk, text and 1.5 gb data. Also plans for as little as $9 per month (good for emergency use)

Possible options as mentioned Ham Radio, Sat phone or emergency devices like below:



+1 for HAM. A few hours studying and $15 for a no code technician license. Baofeng UV5R+ are like $25 5W. I have several, the programming cable can be a bear to install, the free software CHIRP works fine.

Also works on 12 V <$150 Yaesu FT-2900 has 80 W, the <$50 YPS software is wonderful. I use this radio as a base station with a power supply and have a small battery bank back up. I also wired in some 12 V LED spot/work lights so I don’t have to work in the dark <$8 apiece delivered.

I have that Yaesu radio in the truck and am going to put one in an ammo can for the 4 wheeler as soon as the weather breaks.

Have 2 local solar powered repeaters on which I can cover hundreds of miles.

The Spot could work for you as long as the birds are up and working.


Coincidentally, I have been looking for similar capability for a road trip across Canada next winter. If you are serious about this, it is not cheap.

I think it was Rich DeMuro who mentioned a messenger service that uses satellite communication when he last filled in on The Tech Guy. Not specifically an emergency service, it does provide communication when cell service is not available. I don’t remember the specific one he mentioned, but Satpaq is one, and Text Anywhere is another.

Personally, I am leaning towards the Garmin InReach Mini mentioned in the article in the link below.

Keep in mind that all of these require some sort of account be in place to access the satellite service, and this can get expensive fast.


Great info. I’m going to look at those plus getting a ham license. Lots of amateur radio folks in our area, could be useful when the big one hits