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Brockton
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Brockton
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PostFri Jan 20, 2023 7:19 pm 
My wife and I have gotten to the age where she feels uneasy about car camping out of cell phone range due to frequent issues with an aging parent. We like to stay in Newhalem and highway 20 area but T Mobile has no coverage there. What is the easiest way to get messages from, say, an adult family home in a place without cell service? I looked briefly at things like the inReach, but is there a cheaper option considering: - no need for SOS function - no weight limits (car camping) - ideally, no monthly service fee? Thanks for any ideas.

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CS
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PostFri Jan 20, 2023 7:28 pm 
In theory it should just work, or work real soon, or maybe you need to upgrade your phone… https://www.t-mobile.com/news/un-carrier/t-mobile-takes-coverage-above-and-beyond-with-spacex

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Tom
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PostFri Jan 20, 2023 10:24 pm 
If Verizon has better coverage this $3/month option may work for you... A few months ago we switched to xfinity mobile. They use the Verizon network and plans are amazingly cheap if you are not a heavy data user. I was surprised with their shared GB plans the only extra cost per line is taxes. Our total cost each month is $30 for 3GB of shared data + $3 tax per line. I have a couple older Pixel 3 phones that are compatible with their network, and I've been/playing around with the idea that I could offer a complementary phone with unlimited call/text service to anyone in need if they just want to pay $3 tax per month. The catch is you agree not to use any significant data, or if you you want data, pay more to bump up to a higher GB shared plan. Better yet if you have a phone compatible with Verizon, I can do this for up to 5 people. Edit: I can also get anyone a free iphone 12 mini or $450 off an iphone. You just pay tax on the phone and $3/month tax for 2 years of service. Great option if you want a backup phone with Verizon coverage in the mountains and decent camera. https://www.xfinity.com/mobile/shop?category=device If you bring your own phone you can get a $200 gift card which will more than pay for the taxes: https://www.xfinity.com/mobile/learn/byod

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Randito
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PostFri Jan 20, 2023 10:29 pm 
I got an InReach in order to keep in touch on multi-day trips as my mom developed Parkinson's. But this was facilitated by other family members. With the AFH caregivers being the point of contact this seems like it would be more complicated -- as I would expect them to call you main cell number and leave voice mail. With inReach you can have an email address they can send to -- but you'll need caregivers willing and able to undertake this level of complexity. I had good results with the InReach in most mountain areas -- It was a bit less convenient on a multi-week trip in the Grand Canyon as deep in the canyon the Iridium satellites were only in contact maybe 1/3 of the time. So messaging took quite a bit longer. I would expect similar issues in a place like Newhalem. I've also been both a T-Mobile and a Verizon customer. T-Mobile works pretty well in "Incorporated" areas -- but in rural areas coverage more uneven. Verizon coverage in the mountains (at least 8 years ago) was far better. You might want to investigate a "Cell Signal Booster" -- these extend the range of your cellular phone -- so that your contacts may reach you without additional complexity. One example https://www.weboost.com/boosters/vehicle-car

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Brockton
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Brockton
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PostSun Jan 22, 2023 3:31 pm 
Thanks for the ideas! CS - Who knows, maybe that will be up and running before the summer? Tom - I know other campers have gotten Verizon service up there. Randito - My mother-in-law's caregiver is pretty good, so I think they would be OK with texting if needed. On the other hand, looks like I might be able to rent a satellite phone for $8/day. Might be the best option for just a few trips. https://www.bluecosmo.com/iridium-satellite-phone-daily-rentals.html

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Randito
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Randito
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PostSun Jan 22, 2023 7:14 pm 
Renting for 8 bucks a day seems like a great option. That's a tiny fraction of what it used to cost to rent and iridium sat phone. There will likely be hefty per minute charges for talk time. May it be that you never need more that brief "she's doing ok" conversations.

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BigBrunyon
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PostSun Jan 22, 2023 10:58 pm 
People in the Main Car Campgrounds just rely on shouting too much!!!! Seems every time you're in a Main Car Campgound someone's shouting into the night at 4am to be extracted. Demanding to be taken home. These people should have an inreach or whatever!!!

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Tom
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PostMon Jan 23, 2023 5:55 am 
Having used a satellite phone in the past I would say they are pretty flaky in terms of consistent coverage. They are great if you want to check in with family for brief periods but the satellites go in and out and you need to time things. Maybe things have gotten better and I'm not sure what kind of contact you need to stay in but may not be the best option. I have a friend that has taken me up on the cheap Verizon option for back up use when T-Mobile isn't reliable and for them with a newer iPhone with dual SIM it's as simple as just adding an eSIM and not needing another phone.

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Hiker Mama
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PostMon Jan 23, 2023 10:38 am 
AT&T has service now in Newhalem, if you are open to switching. It's spotty in Marblemount. We left T-Mobile years ago because they never had coverage outside the city. The other 2 big brands have better coverage. Otherwise I use an InReach Mini on the cheapest plan. Once you pay for the device, it's not very expensive per month, and you get a certain number of texts per month included (I think it's 5.) It might actually be cheaper than switching to a better phone service. (I don't know what T-Mobile is charging these days). It gives me a lot of peace of mind in case of many types of emergencies. You can turn your service off in the winter if you're not going to be using it. I'm often adventuring out of cell range all year long, so I keep mine subscribed. It's been very helpful over the years. Just something to consider as you do the math. Best wishes to you!

My hiking w/ kids site: www.thehikermama.com
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Cyclopath
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Cyclopath
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PostWed Jan 25, 2023 11:39 am 
Hiker Mama wrote:
AT&T has service now in Newhalem, if you are open to switching. It's spotty in Marblemount. We left T-Mobile years ago because they never had coverage outside the city. The other 2 big brands have better coverage.
For what it's worth, T Mobile gets service in one part of Newhalem, right near the Ladder Creek Falls TH. Whenever I'm driving home on 20 I'll get a bunch of texts as I drive through that spot. And then again in Rockport near Canadian Farms. It's very reliable that I always have service in these two places.

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