Cell Service

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RingWraithsAnonymous
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Cell Service

Post by RingWraithsAnonymous » Wed Jul 03, 2019 3:01 pm

I was toying around with scavenging when the question I have came to mind. Not scavenging in the context of the whole group going out, but scavenging in that part of a larger group goes out while the rest stay at base camp and defend and maintain. I figured that a way to keep in contact would be a must, and at first I was thinking about something along the lines of radios and walkie talkies. I then thought about the prevalence of cell phones, and while the cell service would by no means last indefinitely (I wouldn't think so anyway) I figured that for some time they'd be the go to simply because in theory almost everybody would have a cell phone, making them a plentiful and easy means of communication during the early days.

My question is this: how long would the cell towers keep providing signal?

I know the answer would be different in different areas given that all towers wouldn't fail at the same time, but in general how long would they last?

Thanks in advice for any advice or answers you may have on the matter, and sorry if this is the wrong board for this type of question.

EDIT: the question is for research purposes on a story I plan on writing at some point.
Last edited by RingWraithsAnonymous on Fri Jul 05, 2019 7:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Cell Service

Post by NT2C » Wed Jul 03, 2019 3:41 pm

Moved to Communications. Also, a caution is advised here. You are new to our system so I would strongly advise you to read and understand all of our rules, particularly those regarding the discussion of illegal activities. Scavaging is often theft, and theft being an illegal activity we do not discuss it on the forums.
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Re: Cell Service

Post by majorhavoc » Wed Jul 03, 2019 4:08 pm

Cellular communications are among the very first elements of modern infrastructure to go down in a large scale disaster. If cell towers are still up and running, so too is the rule of law. Not that it's acceptable in any case, but that makes the underlying activity for which you need group communications a double no-no.

Two-way radios are not dependent on any sort of independently operating infrastructure. They will provide good short range communication whilst your group patrols, hunt, farms and engages in cottage industry production of needed supplies.

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Re: Cell Service

Post by Stercutus » Wed Jul 03, 2019 5:09 pm

majorhavoc wrote:
Wed Jul 03, 2019 4:08 pm
Cellular communications are among the very first elements of modern infrastructure to go down in a large scale disaster. If cell towers are still up and running, so too is the rule of law.
Not necessarily. I can think of plenty of places without functioning ROL (Somalia), or with heavily contested government (provinces of Afghanistan and Iraq) where the cell service is about as reliable as Sprint. There are a lot of reasons why this is the case but take a gander at this UN report:

https://www.refworld.org/docid/550c35904.html
Somalia's telecommunications sector has undergone a rapid rise fueled by intense competition amongst the numerous telecommunication firms that dominate the country. These major telecom firms ... have succeeded in large part due [to] a deregulated market with the absence of: state control, regulatory laws, the collapse of foreign exchange controls and the inexistence of license providers. (Somali Economic Forum 25 Apr. 2014)

According to sources, mobile phone companies in Somalia provide the cheapest rates for telecommunications services in Africa (Sheikh Ali and Yusuf Dhaha 2-3 Dec. 2013, 2; US 23 June 2014)
.

There is a lot more to it than that which I won't get in to but you get the idea. So long as there is a strong financial incentive (in the case of Somalia piracy and fraud) a service will be provided.

On a short term basis however is where the gap will be. It is not that difficult to set up a long range wifi network if you know what you are doing for internal communications on smart phones that will be extremely private, much more so than any radio out there commerically available. Paying for the equipment is another thing.
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Re: Cell Service

Post by SCBrian » Wed Jul 03, 2019 5:35 pm

I can say from personal experience (just last night) With the great internet outage (lol) the cell networks were swamped. Voice was spotty, data useless. When the network went down, people fired up their hotspots, etc. and it hit the system hard. Also - depending on the type of disaster - cell phones may be useless, hurricane, etc...
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Re: Cell Service

Post by SCBrian » Wed Jul 03, 2019 5:38 pm

Stercutus wrote:
Wed Jul 03, 2019 5:09 pm
There is a lot more to it than that which I won't get in to but you get the idea. So long as there is a strong financial incentive (in the case of Somalia piracy and fraud) a service will be provided.
Plus you tend to focus on infrastructure when your customers are likely to show up carrying RPG's, grenades, and a lot of firepower to have that discussion on why he cant reach his side chick... ;)
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Re: Cell Service

Post by RickOShea » Wed Jul 03, 2019 9:33 pm

Most of the cell towers in our service territory have either a battery bank back-up system or a propane generator, for when there is a power disruption. I'm not 100%, but I think the battery back-ups are good for around 24 hours of operation, while the ones with gennies can operate for three days or so before needing their propane tanks refilled. I believe there may be a couple that have the generators fed from the local natural gas lines. When they are using the back-up power system, they are often running at a reduced capacity, so you may still have "voice", but "data" service can be sketchy.
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Re: Cell Service

Post by NT2C » Wed Jul 03, 2019 9:53 pm

RickOShea wrote:
Wed Jul 03, 2019 9:33 pm
Most of the cell towers in our service territory have either a battery bank back-up system or a propane generator, for when there is a power disruption. I'm not 100%, but I think the battery back-ups are good for around 24 hours of operation, while the ones with gennies can operate for three days or so before needing their propane tanks refilled. I believe there may be a couple that have the generators fed from the local natural gas lines. When they are using the back-up power system, they are often running at a reduced capacity, so you may still have "voice", but "data" service can be sketchy.
To which I'll add that just because the tower has power does not mean it's functional. Depending on the scope, length, and severity of the emergency there may be no Central Office for it to connect to, either because surrounding towers are damaged/overloaded or because landlines are out.
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Re: Cell Service

Post by emclean » Fri Jul 05, 2019 6:53 am

NT2C wrote:
Wed Jul 03, 2019 9:53 pm
RickOShea wrote:
Wed Jul 03, 2019 9:33 pm
Most of the cell towers in our service territory have either a battery bank back-up system or a propane generator, for when there is a power disruption. I'm not 100%, but I think the battery back-ups are good for around 24 hours of operation, while the ones with gennies can operate for three days or so before needing their propane tanks refilled. I believe there may be a couple that have the generators fed from the local natural gas lines. When they are using the back-up power system, they are often running at a reduced capacity, so you may still have "voice", but "data" service can be sketchy.
To which I'll add that just because the tower has power does not mean it's functional. Depending on the scope, length, and severity of the emergency there may be no Central Office for it to connect to, either because surrounding towers are damaged/overloaded or because landlines are out.
add to that any functioning tower would be overwhelmed with calls, that is would not be reliable for communications.

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Re: Cell Service

Post by RingWraithsAnonymous » Fri Jul 05, 2019 7:27 pm

NT2C wrote:
Wed Jul 03, 2019 3:41 pm
Moved to Communications. Also, a caution is advised here. You are new to our system so I would strongly advise you to read and understand all of our rules, particularly those regarding the discussion of illegal activities. Scavaging is often theft, and theft being an illegal activity we do not discuss it on the forums.
Sorry about that. I'm explaining it here and through an edit into the original post explaining that the question was for research purposes. I have a story concept in mind that I'm actually thinking of posting here if I ever write it, and there is a lot of scavenging type activities involved in the current plot line for it that I'm working on. Sorry for any confusion my not saying that to begin with may have caused. I'll remember to tread more carefully with such things in the future as well, my apologies.

Also thanks for the various replies guys. I already have more than I started with, thank you.
If you think about it everybody lives in the same place: somewhere between the Empire of the Penguins, and the Kingdom of the Elves.

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a Price for Every Head
Dead Memories
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Re: Cell Service

Post by SCBrian » Fri Jul 05, 2019 7:58 pm

RingWraithsAnonymous wrote:
Fri Jul 05, 2019 7:27 pm
NT2C wrote:
Wed Jul 03, 2019 3:41 pm
Moved to Communications. Also, a caution is advised here. You are new to our system so I would strongly advise you to read and understand all of our rules, particularly those regarding the discussion of illegal activities. Scavaging is often theft, and theft being an illegal activity we do not discuss it on the forums.
Sorry about that. I'm explaining it here and through an edit into the original post explaining that the question was for research purposes. I have a story concept in mind that I'm actually thinking of posting here if I ever write it, and there is a lot of scavenging type activities involved in the current plot line for it that I'm working on. Sorry for any confusion my not saying that to begin with may have caused. I'll remember to tread more carefully with such things in the future as well, my apologies.

Also thanks for the various replies guys. I already have more than I started with, thank you.
As I told another author looking for suggestions, for what I think your doing, look into google's project loon.
I tilt at Windmills
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Re: Cell Service

Post by Slugg » Sun Jul 21, 2019 9:47 am

SCBrian wrote:
Fri Jul 05, 2019 7:58 pm
RingWraithsAnonymous wrote:
Fri Jul 05, 2019 7:27 pm
NT2C wrote:
Wed Jul 03, 2019 3:41 pm
Moved to Communications. Also, a caution is advised here. You are new to our system so I would strongly advise you to read and understand all of our rules, particularly those regarding the discussion of illegal activities. Scavaging is often theft, and theft being an illegal activity we do not discuss it on the forums.
Sorry about that. I'm explaining it here and through an edit into the original post explaining that the question was for research purposes. I have a story concept in mind that I'm actually thinking of posting here if I ever write it, and there is a lot of scavenging type activities involved in the current plot line for it that I'm working on. Sorry for any confusion my not saying that to begin with may have caused. I'll remember to tread more carefully with such things in the future as well, my apologies.

Also thanks for the various replies guys. I already have more than I started with, thank you.
As I told another author looking for suggestions, for what I think your doing, look into google's project loon.

Project loon is sort of the SHTF plan I was having in mind only on a much smaller scale. And repurposing the old useless cell towers with my own radio systems.
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Re: Cell Service

Post by SCBrian » Sun Jul 21, 2019 1:51 pm

I can see both working well in a SHTF situation. Carry a loon type kit (for lack of a better term) in the back of a vehicle for long distance travel. Need coms across the midwest, send that kit airborne and talk as long as line-o-sight is there. Or use ham radio repeaters on towers to cover the area.
Modern cell will be mostly paperweights at that point. I do think the phones will have value, but more as computers/e-readers than phones.
depending on what you are doing, low powered wifi mesh networks are also an option.
Last edited by SCBrian on Sun Jul 21, 2019 7:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Cell Service

Post by NT2C » Sun Jul 21, 2019 6:05 pm

There are some problems with repurposing non-functional cell towers in a SHTF scenario, starting with it being illegal trespassing. That alone is enough to nix this conversation in the bud, at least here on ZS.

Then there's the fact that a non-functional tower is very likely to become functional again once power is restored to the area, and whatever modifications you've done to the tower could seriously affect its operation as well as it now being hazardous to climb and work on even if you want to remove your gear. (You might also find your own equipment damaged or your signal seriously degraded.)

And there's really little need for such repurposing. Hams are quite adept at getting a good signal out with minimal equipment. I have a trailer sitting in my yard right now with a fully solar-powered 70cm 40W repeater (coordinated as an itinerant repeater for EMCOMM) built into it and a 35' push up mast. Park it on a high hill and you've got UHF coverage for several miles around, depending upon the terrain. HF is even easier. I can and have worked all continents from my truck using 100W and a hamstick. (I used to sit in the parking lot of a local gas station/ food store at night and hang out with the sheriff's deputies while I "worked" Europe and South America, which always amazed them given how crappy their radios were at the time.)
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Re: Cell Service

Post by mattltm » Mon Jul 22, 2019 12:59 am

I'll echo NT2C here.

There are plenty of options for setting up temporary repeaters without having to climb cell towers and trespass. I would also like to add another view. Just like NT2C, isn't the whole point of this to be prepared beforehand? For example, I look after 2 ham repeaters (one analogue, one DMR) in my area plus a separate licenced commercial DMR repeater that runs encryption. All of the sites are legally used and have UPS power for around 2 days of normal use without mains. One site, the commercial repeater, has PV panels and 400AH worth of battery storage which should keep it going for a long time. I have 24/7 access to all sites. I also have 2 spare repeaters ready to roll out with 30' fiberglass masts and several crossband repeat capable mobile radios that could be pressed into service as range extenders.

I guess the point I'm trying to make is that if you are tech savvy enough to be able to climb a cell tower and install a temporary repeater then you should be tech savvy enough to have the kit and knowledge to avoid having to use a cell tower in the first place.
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