Survival: Backup Comms

Read Part I, Part II, Part III, & then come back.

Cellular networks are robust. They are essentially radio networks with different backend connectivity via IP & digital voice. Cell sites are usually backed up with batteries and natural gas generators making them extremely fault tolerant.

That being said, they have a tendency to be overwhelmed during times of crisis. Bad weather in here in Atlanta will overload the mobile voice and data networks for even the three largest carriers making calls and data usage all but impossible until the congestion clears.

So, what do you do when you need to communicate with an individual or group when this happens?

Analog or digital radio.

I’ll talk more about digital in future post, though it needs to be taken into consideration as a means of communication.

Using the venerable and shockingly flexible Wouxon, my wife knows that she can reach me on a certain emergency 2 meter frequency in lieu of reliable cellular comms.

We have established an EMCOM protocol as a household. This includes frequencies, call signs, procedures based upon circumstances.

Natural Disaster Scenario Example:

  • Emergency declared by the Matson household based on established protocol
  • Radio’s tuned to specific EMCON channels
  • Charger linked to specific generator for this purpose for EMCON gear
  • Contact attempts made until contact established

Simple, cheap, effective.

Mrs. Matson holds an amateur radio call. Depending upon which protocol is engaged will determine if we decide to stay out in the public space or go with a more stealthy means of communicating. When going for cover, we stay off the major amateur thoroughfares and public safety space. Our goal is not to interrupt but to sidestep these heavily trod frequencies. This is illegal, but hey, I gotta be honest. If dotgov wants to stop me and my family from communicating, they are welcome to try.

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