top of page

When Cell Service Is Not Enough

You have been fed plenty of headlines today with enough shock factor to last your nervous system into next week about the recent cell service outage.

Listen up, buttercup. Manufactured fear is paralyzing. Real fear is energizing.

Did today’s circumstances leave you feeling fear? Good-but only if you use it correctly. Lack of options, and no layers of redundancy in something as important as communication should make us feel vulnerable.

Now, what we do with that fear is up to us. Action or stagnation? You cannot control the greater sum of events that will or will not take place in the future, but you can control how you equip yourself. Preparation will allow you to live above the fear, and that's where we want you getting cozy, because you have a beautiful life to live!

Now, as your self proclaimed preparedness friend- here to guide you through life's topsys and turveys, I've created a simple little guide to break down some options that you can begin to keep in mind as you build out your communication solutions in the future, like the properly prepared ladies and gentlemen I know you all to be!

Smart phones and cellular networks in general are convenient, but you always have options, my friends, and a world of options is a world that I'd like to be part of. Also, do well to remember that when the time for action has arrived-the time to prepare has passed. Use the luxury of now.

Let’s jump into some comms education!

You can check out my favorites of the options I mention below in my LTK Shop here.

Radio Frequencies

These bad boys are not reliant on cellular networks and offer you multiple options, now before you think the staticy little 2 way radio you grew up with is an antiquated option, you should know-they are dinosaurs that you want on your side. Let's break em' down.

-FRS (Family Radio Service) is your everyday walkie talkie. They operate on specific frequencies allocated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for short-range, personal communications. They’re most commonly useful in instances like recreational activities where a limited range is needed and they do not require a license.

-GMRS (General Mobile Radio Service) offers a longer range compared to FRS and can be used for both personal and business comms. They operate on higher power levels and have access to additional frequencies. A GMRS license from the FCC is required to operate these radios BUT you pay $35 once every 10 years, doesn’t require you to take a test, AND your license covers anyone in your entire family. For even further range, you could invest in a repeater and upgrade that antenna. HIGHLY recommend families looking into this option.

The process to obtain a license is a little tricky and the site is pretty primitive, so I'll write out your step by step here!

To secure your GMRS license visit here to create an account AND once your account is created you need to login and register for a new FRN number and then access this link

with your new FRN number and password

  • On the left side of the page, click the Apply for a New License link.

  • Choose "ZA - General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS)" from the radio service drop down list.

  • Click Continue

  • On the Summary page, review your application and click the Continue to Certify button to continue.

  • On the Certification page, sign your application by typing your name in the boxes provided and click the Submit button.

  • Select Continue to Cores for Payment Selection

  • You will login again to your FRN account

  • Choose  Manage Existing FRNs | FRN Financial | Bills and Fees  

  • FRN Financial

  • View/Pay

  • You should be good from here!

-(HAM) Amateur Radio does require testing and a license to operate. They operate on a wide range of frequencies and offer long-distance communication capabilities, but are useful tools for personal, experimental, and emergency communication purposes like communicating with space stations.

-(CB) Citizen Band radios operate on a set of 40 channels designated for public use. They are commonly used for short-distance communication between vehicles, such as trucks and cars. I wonder if the call sign Buttercup is available? 10-4.

-(VHF) Marine radios are used for comms on the water, they operate on specific frequencies allocated for marine use and require a license from the FCC for operation


-Satellite Devices use satellites orbiting the Earth to transmit signals, allowing communication in remote areas or when traditional networks are down. While they can be more expensive than other options, satellite phones provide reliable communication capabilities in virtually any location. I use a Zoleo device for this. It's a small device that I keep with me on the go and it allows your phone to be used as a satellite device when powered on. I've used it with success both within the USA and abroad. I highly recommend investing in a satellite device when you can!

Other Options

-Handheld GPS Devices can be used to share your location with others folks, or emergency services. Some models also offer two-way messaging capabilities, allowing you to send and receive text messages even without cellular service, not to mention the navigation help you may or may not need.

-Maps we would be doing ourselves a disservice if we didn't recognize the fact that we often use our phones for a lot more than just basic communication. Not being able to place a grocery order is most likely mildly inconvenient, but being able to navigate in a busy city around unknown streets could turn out to be a real burden. Ensure you're carrying updated maps in your vehicle- it's easy security for navigation should you need an alternative.

-Paper Notes whether you need to leave message drops for communication with other individuals OR if you're needing to copy down directions or information for your own retention, having actual paper is a real help in a pinch. I always have a small pocket Rite in the Rain notebook with me for this reason, and you should too!

-Pre-established Meeting Points In situations where communication devices are unavailable, pre-established meeting points can serve as a rendezvous location for reuniting with family members or group members in case of separation. May seem primitive, but life can hand you some unexpected situations quicker than you have time to prepare for them. Have simple conversations now to anticipate where to find your people if communication networks were to fail.

I hope you feel a bit more squared away with your communication jargon, and feel ready to tackle one or two layers of your planning so that when things get confusing and the unexpected happens, you can keep on keeping on like we all should!

Stay in frequency.

And for a FULL education on communication + every other facet of preparedness that you can do at your own pace, and fully digital, Fieldcraft Survival's Program 62 is gold. Solid gold.


bottom of page