Two Letters Re: Changing The Retreat Locale Paradigm: Cellular Phones and Two-Way Satellite Internet Systems

Firstly let me congratulate you on taking your blog full-time. It has proved an excellent resource for myself and getting friends and family to see the benefits of preparedness. Almost as effective as your novel, in fact! I hope resources will permit me to become a contributing reader in the very near future.

A quick note on Cellular Broadband for remote locations, several companies are now offering broadband speed to cell phones or mobile devices(such as the Palm Treo or the RIM Blackberry). Several of these phones can act as a modem: by attaching the cellular phone to the computer it can act as the wireless PC card mentioned in Keith’s letter. This has two benefits: the phones often have better antennas then the PC cards(at least in my experience) and the monthly data plans for handheld devices are often cheaper than for dedicated PC cards.
The downside is that while you are away from the computer (with your cell phone) the computer is no longer online. The newest Verizon Blackberry offering has this ability, I am certain we will see many more to follow.

Having Email and Internet on one’s cell phone may seem frivolous, but I see a very real benefit in being able to receive emails and notifications about news, severe weather, etc while away from my computer. Thank you again for such an excellent resource. Sincerely, – Pat


To begin with, MOST of the sat connections are NOT for multiple people. The key is to setup a NAT/Proxy on the computer that connects to the satellite service and let it be the gateway to the net for all the other machines behind that machine.

We have used a directPC unit with 20 people getting net access via one account and machine. the business version is designed for letting lots of folks access at the same time, but the consumer units are way cheaper and the monthly charges are about $99 per month.

I am considering getting a RV unit for my search and rescue vehicle to setup mobile command posts and information units.

ALL of it costs, so take baby steps. I also have some experience with HF packet radio rigs, but they are mostly suited for sending emails, and not in great volume.

A good HF radio with a Packet TNC runs about 1000 to 2000 [baud], but can give you some email from way away places.

a combination of a sat connection along with and HF rig could be mighty handy if TEOTWAWKI materializes. – M.R.