Technology for liberty 2 – satellite cellular

October 8, 2021   |   Tags:

After discussing distributed grid cellular and internet communications in a local area, the natural question is “how do we communicate over larger distances?”

We’ve had “satellite cellular” phones for decades – a standard ploy in action movies and books. IF you have a thousand FRNs a month to spend on a subscription and $10,000 to buy the phone – every couple of years. And of course, a backpack (add THAT to your bugout bag!) to carry it in.

But we are now looking at something much different – and better.

Using shortwave and ham radio (an “old and low” technology, and Packet Radio is one way of doing it: the equivalent of texting and (here I do Packet Radio a disservice) dial-up modems. And of course – you CAN use voice on amateur radio – gee, imagine that!

But another alternative is also showing up. Again looking at a recent article posted by Newsbreak from Ars Technica, we see that a small company in Virginia has come up with a way to directly connect ordinary cell phones to low-earth-orbit satellites. Ordinary, unmodified cell phones with all of 300 mW mobile phones. Supposedly the same kind you can buy at Family Dollar for ten bucks plus tax – on sale, at least, and provided you buy $20 of airtime.

The company “Lynk Global, Inc.” (is it any wonder your average teenager can’t spell for beans?) sent its “Shannon” satellite into orbit back in July as part of a rideshare mission on a Falcon 9 rocket. (Read more details here.) After some initial tests, the company said “hundreds” of mobile phones in the United States, United Kingdom, and the Bahamas were able to connect with the satellite as it passed overhead, as if it were a cell phone tower in space. They plan to start launching 200 of the “pizza box” (1 m x 1 m x 15 cm) satellites a month, to have a constellation of 2,000 in orbit.

(Which is, to me, one of the big negatives: MORE space junk. AND far too easily dealt with (relatively speaking, of course) by a big nasty enemy superpower.)

But it offers yet another alternative to communications on the ground – often capable of being “controlled” by those same inimical governments. And perhaps one less able to be micromanaged by big corporate interests. (Although in our increasingly corporatist (fascist?) world, is there any real difference between being told what to do by DC or where ever Amazon and Microsoft and Verizon are based?) And perhaps one the hackers can help with, as is being done more and more with those cheap burner cell phones I mentioned.

But again, this gives us ANOTHER tool that both haters AND lovers of liberty can use – for bad or good.

Technology, overall, is a GOOD thing only if people take advantage of it for GOOD things. And work hard to prevent bad people from using those things for BAD purposes. Notice, however, we can NEVER simply prevent bad people from OWNING and USING these things – inevitably that leads to stealing away our freedom and our property. I realize, that is hard. But the alternative is so horrible that we must accept that we can never disarm evil people (or even governments) and can never prevent them from using means of communication, transportation and surveillance. We can only work constantly to negate their technology with our own, to punish (appropriately) those who abuse the tech. (Which, of course, has its own dangers.)

Perhaps the best thing we can do is make sure that governments and corporations have no power to deny us the ownership AND use of the technology and other things we need to preserve AND enjoy our liberty.

Which does bring up yet another question – what other technology that is useful for keeping and regaining our liberty is the target of the totalitarian tyrants?


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