Does Satellite Internet + Femto-Cell Cellspot Give “anywhere phone”?

I expect both of these parts are cheap enough that anyone with enough spare cash to buy a car (or even a used one) can get the gear and do the test; but I’ve not priced any of it. After I’m moved I may give it a try “just because”.

There’s 2 bits of kit.

1) Elon Musk’s Starlink satellite internet service.

2) T-Mobile’s “femto scale” Cellspot device that provides T-Mobile service over IP connection.

It looks to me like you can plug the two together and have a very small area “cell tower” even if local telephone and internet service is shut off. The only open issue I see is perhaps the need to deal with longer than usual latency in the satellite internet; though Musk claims it is low latency. It is in LEO (Low Earth Orbit) so doesn’t have the long latency of Geo-Sync distance relays.

There might also be a question of how swapping satellites might interact with a continuous data stream. Supposedly no dropouts, but you might get a bit of Donald Duck Sounds sometimes as in early TDMA phones (Time Division Multiple Access I think…)

Worth a test, IMHO.

Starlink info is all over the place and everyone has heard of it by now, so I won’t belabor it. It was a “micro” scale Cell Tower I was searching for, and descovered Femto Scale…

T-Mobile 4G LTE CellSpot Creates Your Own Mini Cell Tower
by Elmer Montejo on November 04, 2015

Been around since 2015, so bugs ought to be worked out (provided it has survived the 7 years after it hit the market…)

T-Mobile 4G LTE CellSpotDo you live in a cell signal dead zone? Is your office just as dead? If you’re a T-Mobile customer, the 4G LTE CellSpot can make those places come alive with nonstop, full-bar T-Mobile LTE signals even if you don’t have cellular coverage in your area.

The CellSpot acts as a miniature LTE tower for your home or office. The 8.5-inch device uses femtocell (small cell) technology to connect to your Internet router and place an area about 3,000 square feet under the umbrella of a full-bar LTE signal.

You don’t need to log in with usernames or passwords once the CellSpot has been set up. Your devices will connect automatically, just as they would to any T-Mobile cell tower. This also means that other T-Mobile customers can avail themselves of CellSpot coverage as long as they’re within range.

That’s about a 31 foot radius area if I did the math right. 31 x 31 x 3.14 = 3017.5 square feet. Not a very large area at all, really, OTOH, would be more private that way as one set up in the middle of a 60 foot Big Rig would not spill out to the barricade 1000 feet away alerting them to the existence of it.

There are similar bigger devices with more power for larger areas, even truck mounted ones, and one that fits on a simple small trailer a pickup can tow. But what surprised me was how small the scale can go. One at the Feeding Station / Fire Pit and one at the HQ Truck and you have both organization private lines and community shared lines. One satellite uplink could serve both with proper network between them, I think.

As the satellite link is a high gain antenna pointed toward the sky, it would be harder to jam by typical ground based cell jammers too. (Plus on a very different band). The femtocell “tower” could even be inside a metal box truck to block external jamming, if needed.

Up to 16 devices can make calls simultaneously as long as the devices (3G-, 4G- or LTE-capable) are compatible with the T-Mobile network, making the CellSpot great for small businesses.

Postpaid T-Mobile Simple Choice subscribers can get one CellSpot for free for your home or business with a $25 refundable deposit. Drop in at any T-Mobile store to request your CellSpot or have a unit shipped to you.

So sized for 16 people at once. Reasonable for a small crew or a shared coffee area.

Then the price looks to be “free” (with deposit). Or was back then. It does look like it still exists. (See T-Mobile link further down).

T-Mobile began offering a CellSpot Wi-Fi router last year that lets callers call and text over a Wi-Fi connection in areas not reached by T-Mobile’s cellular coverage. But the newer LTE CellSpot is definitely faster and more reliable than the Wi-Fi CellSpot. It also supports new network technologies such as Voice over LTE (VoLTE), HD Calling, video calling and advanced messaging.

Nice. So you can do various messaging as well as calles.

T-Mobile isn’t the only provider to offer devices like the CellSpot. AT&T’s MicroCell is similar in principle, but you have to buy the device from third-party retailers (including Amazon), register the device with AT&T and get your phone activated so you can use it with the MicroCell. Sprint offers the AIRAVE, which also provides restricted access to approved phone numbers. Verizon’s Samsung Network Extender has similar functions and also allows limited access.

So there are also other choices, though this asserts they are tied to particular phones. But any flies in this ointment? Let’s ask T-Mobile:

Service requirements

A valid e911 address is required on the line for the service to work. This is for your safety, so emergency services can find your location.

Locations must be an area where T-Mobile offers service and has local e911.

Only one coverage device is allowed per coverage use address.

The address must have no existing CellSpot or signal booster.

Multiple CellSpots can be at different addresses in the same area. In this case, the devices will not interfere with one another, but they do not work together (such as not handing off calls between devices). Therefore, multiple devices should not be in close proximity or used alone to address coverage in large buildings.

Placing mini-towers in high-traffic area could lead to call failure when the device is at maximum connections.

No existing Wi-Fi or T-Mobile cellular signal needed!

Phone & Internet requirements

Supports all 3G (UMTS), and 4G (HSPA+) and 4G LTE capable devices that can connect to the T-Mobile network.

Internet with reliable high speeds. Try a speed test when connected to your home internet to check for:
Ping / latency: 200 ms (or less)
Download: 2 Mbps (or more)
Upload: 0.5 Mbps (or more)
Bridge mode: enabled
UDP ports: 123, 500, and 4500 opened
Cable or DSL Internet is recommended. Satellite and cellular Internet are not supported.

Bummer on the Satellite not supported. However, it might work anyway. Not supported often just means they don’t want to take support calls if the service is funky.

Then the e911 requirement, I think can be beaten just by assigning it to a place where there is such coverage (like home or office) then trying the remote run after shown to work “in the building”.

So “Specs Checks & Testing” required, plus looking at other vendor options; but the principle is interesting…

There’s a lot of old forum chatter about the various devices not working with Satellite due to things like latency on their particular brand of satellite internet, but all the services mentioned are in GeoSync, not LEO. So I get the impression nobody has tried it again since the Starlink LEO gear went operational. That will make a dramatic difference in latency. I’d suspect enough for it to work OK.

An intriguing possibility on the horizon.

The other interesting possibility is to use something like a Mesh Network on the ground and then uplink to Starlink with one station in the middle of the group somewhere. These folks look to be presently sold out (wonder why…) but an interesting device:

They have some mil-spec gear that takes a licence to use, but then one that is unlicensed:


Meet the sleek, lightweight device that pairs with your smartphone, and keeps your group connected when venturing off grid.
Send text & GPS locations without cell or wifi

Works with any iOS or Android smartphone
Mesh-networking enabled to privately relay messages
Micro USB charging cables included
1-year limited warranty
Full tech specs

Looks to be about the size of a 12 Gauge shotgun shell.

Send texts (1-to-1 or group), GPS locations, or public broadcasts to all Mesh users in your area and get delivery confirmation on every message you send.

Privately relay messages through your own people-powered network.

Link users in your area, relay and send messages farther while keeping them private.

Download free offline maps of any location in the world — save and share pins.

No central data-store so your private chats are end-to-end encrypted.

Drop paired units in strategic locations to relay messages for yourself and others.

‘Push for help’ mode with programmable emergency message.

The map on that page shows hundreds, perhaps thousands, of mesh network locations, including up into Canada. They have an SMS relay out to Telco Land option:

Subscribe to our goTenna Plus app to enable SMS Network Relay. If a nearby goTenna user has cell service, you can transmit your message through them to anyone with service no matter where they are. Try free for 30 days!

When you click on the “email me” link it says:

Register your email address below to receive an email as soon as this becomes available again.

I point out the final word “again”… I suspect someone has been buying a lot of these, or they are stuck in a container off the port of Long Beach ;-)

Ah, toys I’d like to play with. I’d much rather be working out persistent portable mesh and uplink phone services than moving boxes to Florida. Oh Well. By the time I’m settled in; with time, money, and space to play with this, the whole thing will likely be over, and moot. Oh Well.

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
This entry was posted in Emergency Preparation and Risks, Political Current Events, Tech Bits. Bookmark the permalink.

31 Responses to Does Satellite Internet + Femto-Cell Cellspot Give “anywhere phone”?

  1. p.g.sharrow says:

    ” By the time I’m settled in; with time, money, and space to play with this, the whole thing will likely be over, and moot.”

    It appears to me that you might have a 5 year window of need for such a device. For me even longer due to my location. My lady’s 3-4G cell phone sometimes grabs my Satellite internet service routered WiFi for texting. but no VOIP.
    I think it will take years to root out the effects and people of the WEF even though we are starting to gain traction now on exposing them to people that will listen.

  2. E.M.Smith says:


    THE biggest benefit of all this mess, IMHO, is how it has “Outed” the clandestine effort to overthrow world governments by infiltration and parasitism. 5 years ago I had a vague notion, now it is a firm conviction backed by a lot more understanding and with “Name names” attached. I wonder how many more are like that.

    5 years ago folks didn’t worry about election integrity much. Now we know there’s a global effort to corrupt and control all elections, the names of the companies, and many of the players.

    First win the information war…

    Oh, and 5 years ago we didn’t have a functioning handle on “Cancel Culture”, now you have a whole lot of folks moved through “OMG What did they say?” to “That BS, OK, I’m buying a bunch of their stuff” or “OK, here’s a bypass of the cancel culture commies…” (which is what I’m doing with things like postings about I2P).

    In Canada, Trudeau is being outed as a SoyBoy Soft Spoken Petty Tyrant and Graduate of WEF Young Leaders program… which points to ALL WEF “graduates” as Petty Tyrants In Waiting (and thus enemies of the people). That’s good info right there…

    FWIW: I think there may well be an ongoing need for “such a device” given that folks like WEF are Soros’ NGOs are not going away. But it is likely too late for me to buy, test, and talk about one before the events in Canada have run to a finish. (OTOH, if The Turd succeeds in staying in power and rolling out his Social Scaring Program and Qr-Control System, it might be a very long time…)

    Why I think this would work over Starlink:

    Because the Tesla Phone does, I think…

    But recently the Tesla company announced that they are making Tesla smartphones. It is rumored that their new device will launch in 2022. You may be surprised to learn about the functionality of this new device. Tesla told us that this new device will have a lot of updated things. This means that if you use this smartphone, the network system will work in the forest and mountains. The only reason is that this smartphone will have the ability to receive networks from the satellite.

    I’ve not done my homework on the Tesla phone, but what little I’ve done seems to show that while it prefers a ground network link, it will also swap to the Starlink if needed in remote areas. That’s sort of a mini-Dig-Here! in that anyone with one of those phones in the middle of a dead spot could test it and report. Elon has said the design goal was a phone that would work on Mars with the Starlink sats there (once the colony gets going…).

    One of the big benefits of Starlink over Geosync is that at a couple of hundred miles up vs 25,000 miles, the latency is dramatically less. IIRC, it also does Sat-to-Sat mesh so avoids ground station up/down link latency between 2 ground user sites. (User-A / Starlink sat-to-sat / User B but NOT: user-a / ground network / ground station uplink / ground station down link / ground network B / ground user-B )

    So I’m pretty sure it will work for VOIP and femto-cellsites as long as not administratively blocked.

  3. Ossqss says:

    I had peeked in Utube on the Gotenna thing prior.

    The challenge with Sat links and access is the uplink.

  4. E.M.Smith says:


    That’s why I was thinking Starlink. I’ve only seen the ra-ra-girls promos of it, but it claims to be a “set box on ground turn it on” and the automation in it finds a Sat and then tracks it. Re-pointing at the next Sat as needed. (I’m a little concerned you will get a drop-out during the re-pointing that might not be noticed with TCP/IP data flow but that would cause a drop out in a call, or a full on call drop, for VOIP).

    But even if calls drop every 20 minutes, that’s enough for a lot of different services…

  5. philjourdan says:

    You did the math and realize that 1-2k K is about 600-1200 miles, right? Which is about the distance from here to you. (in FLA). Or close enough to not matter. So YEA! going through a VPN down in FLA adds very little latency (I would guess 60ms). Land is about 25-40 (depending upon congestion), so a phone call has about a 1 second delay through LEO.

    Very interesting!!

    p.s. Doing early morning classes, so on different time zone from my wife. She is still balking. Will try to send an update – Re: car – soon.

  6. Sandy McClintock says:

    I wish we had these T-mobile options in Australia; 4G is poor in the house but VDSL is great.
    FYI, I recently used GlobalEsim while I was in Europe and was very impressed at how well it worked across countries, the price, and the fact that no physical change of SIM was required. (

  7. T Town says:

    Why even bother with a mini cell tower? With my Verizon phone, I am able to place calls, and text, over WiFi. And, you can enter any address you like for the phone over WiFi so long as you aren’t expecting to use it to place emergency 911 calls. Vonage and other voip services have the same requirement of registering a physical address with their phone for e911 purposes.

  8. E.M.Smith says:

    @T Town:

    Not all phones have VOIP in them. I’ve not installed it on any of mine (yet) and one of them is not capable of it at all.

    Yes, for an all new buy, you could just do that. But to provide generic phone service to “whatever old phone” the folks happen to have, the femto-cell “tower” lets you do that.

  9. E.M.Smith says:

    T Town prompted me to look into Starlink VOIP (as both direct VOIP and a femto-cell “tower” depend on the same link profile.) Turns out there’s already Beta Tests going on:

    And I note in passing that this was a year ago…

    level 1
    1y ago
    I’m a VoIP expert. But I’m not a beta tester.

    However the network jitter & latency stats that have been appearing strongly suggest that the service would work very well for VoIP.

    You’d want to use a bring-your-own router that support proper QoS so that latency when nearing upload/download max-outs is managed and remains low. That is, if you’re going to hit it hard with data while also using VoIP.

    The only other factor which can be complicating is the CGNAT picture. Because you’re already NAT’ed and effectively are double NAT’ed when connected behind a router, your VoIP software or devices and the service that they are talking to need to be configured to handle NAT mixups on the service side. A competent VoIP service provider shouldn’t have problems supporting it.
    11m ago
    Beta Tester
    Have two beta units in service here in WA state near puget sound islands – one site has 5 voip phones, using 3cx for PBX, SIP trunks are at local ISP. Coming from DSL that was 3/.5 that averaged about 80ms so major upgrade for this location. Getting average speed of about 65/10 and 30ms.

    VOIP works well 99% of the time. Watching pings starlink will average 20-45ms, but spikes randomly and drops pings. Maybe once every 20min or so I will drop a couple pings, and about once every hour pings will jump to 300-500ms for about 20 seconds.

    VOIP craps itself if there is a call during a latency spike, but most other times it works great.

    11m ago
    Beta Tester
    After a few more days service has improved. I was seeing over 2 hours of ‘beta downtime’ and didn’t realize that was causing my ping spikes every hour or so. Things seem much better over the last couple days.

    One person said it was not suitable for phones as it sometimes has a dropout. For “emergency use” when the Jackboots cut off cell towers totally, that would be acceptable. It is also possible they didn’t know about the scheduled Beta downtime like the comment above.

    So, conclusion:

    Starlink gives usable with perhaps sporadic dropouts ( likely to be an artifact of the Beta test or will end with ever more Starlink satellites on orbit, IMHO). VOIP works now. The femto-Cell “tower” ought to also work, but some assembly required.

  10. T Town says:

    My phone is at least 6 years old, and has VOIP capability. If the phone doesn’t have it built-in, there are apps that can be downloaded to provide it. Personally, I think providing a means of using VOIP would be more inclusive than limitting access to a single carrier.

  11. E.M.Smith says:

    @T Town:

    Um, my “Flip Phone” is about 20 years old… Also, lots of folks buy new Flip Phones, both for the low cost and the security of NOT having a “smart phone”. (Look at the security conferences at how many Security Guys have flip phones…)

    Another of my phones (The newest “burner”) requires a log in id to get applications or to turn on VOIP. Kind of defeats the purpose…

    The third phone (Old “burner”) looks like it doesn’t have a VOIP built in, but still has the “ID to get an ap” issue.

    Yes, I could work around those, but say I’m a low tech Trucker in the middle of a frozen border crossing and suddenly need to phone home to discover the cell towers were shut off and my mobile internet is now gone too…

    I’m not at all against having VOIP available via a WiFi connection to the Starlink. I just didn’t see where that needed to be said. Probably did, but as a long time tech weenie I just thought it was kind of obvious that with IP uplink you could try / do VOIP. I forgot some folks are not a “network guy”… The “hard bit” was finding out if there were small sized “towers” suited to making direct cell service possible, and there are.

    Given the above Beta reviews, it looks like both ought to work well enough.

  12. E.M.Smith says:

    Well.. That’s a big poke with a stick…

    @ you put in your address for a Beta order (yes, still in Beta…) and it then tells you IF you can order one…

    I tried both an east and west coast address and was told

    Order now to reserve your Starlink. Starlink is currently at capacity in your area, so your order may not be fulfilled until 2023 or later. You will receive a notification once your Starlink is ready to ship.
    Hardware $499.00
    Service $99.00 /mo
    Shipping & Handling $50.00
    Est. Tax $35.69


    So some trucker would need to be in a middle of nowhere area that was open in order to even get one. Then there’s a question of how much (if at all) they geolocate the thing and only let it work where you said you were. I.e. does the box roam, or not?

    So good idea but maybe usable after a few thousand more satellites are launched… But at least now I know why Elon is doing so many Starlink batch launches.

  13. E.M.Smith says:

    Over on W.O.O.D.
    Another Ian posted this link to SDA:

    Which says the Truckers have installed a Starlink:

    You may have noticed a truck in front of the parliament buildings in Ottawa that has a wooden shack on it. It has kind of a Beverly Hillbillies vibe to it. The other day they built a deck on the roof of that shack and installed one of Elon Musk’s Starlink satellite dishes. They are now livestreaming from the location and there is no way anyone can block them from doing so or shut them down via cell towers. Its totally self contained.

    Wonder if any of them read here ;-)

    If not, maybe someone can point out to them the benefits of VOIP and a femto-cell “tower” …

  14. E.M.Smith says:

    Looks like I was late to the party on Truckers Starlink. First video looks like 4 days ago:

    Looks like mostly just a fixed street view at this time.

  15. T Town says:

    If you truly are still using a 20 year old flip phone, you are on borrowed time with it. All cellular carriers have announced their intent to drop support for all cellular technologies exept for 4G & 5G sometime in 2022, after being postponed from a 2021 date. Once that happens with your carrier, you will be forced to purchase a new phone. While there are still some flip phone models available, most are based upon Android, or some variant of it, and they all support wifi calling. So my argument in support of just using wifi calling still stands. Not to mention that it avoids the cost and complexity of the mini cell tower device.
    BTW, I only upgraded to the smart phone last year after receiving notice that my current cell phone at the time would no longer be supported after the switch to 4G/5G only. I chose to get an older model phone that still has a removable battery.

  16. H.R. says:

    I wrote about it last month and the crew here kicked the topic around; my 3G flip phoneis gonna die so I have to replace it.

    I had to order a replacement 4G… [drum rol] FLIP PHONE! Ta-da!

    It’s due sometime next week or the following week.

  17. T Town says:

    And the 4G flip phone is likely Android based, or runs an OS that is a branch of Android, which makes it as vulnerable as most smart phones. There is no such thing as a secure device these days.

  18. Ossqss says:

    I don’t think you will find a pure non-VOIP connection no matter what you use, or the phone on cell.

    I do think that Gotenna thing is pretty interesting for creating a LAN however.

    I picked one from the search share I put up above in the tread.

  19. E.M.Smith says:

    @T Town:

    Don’t know how many years it has been, at least 4 maybe 6, that Verizon has been saying they will shut off 3 G “this year” and my phone will be toast. At this time it is largely just a game for me. Pushing the boundary. It is a phone I bought for my son when he was in high school (now I’m a Grandpa…) and I’m just going to let it run until it doesn’t… just to see ;-)

    My “next phone” will likely be a DIY phone “just because”. I’m thinking it will be based on a Raspberry Pi with a phone module added (so I have control of the software) and with hard switches on the microphone and camera. The Pine Phone does this already. I’ve been looking at doing that for a few years now (it has already been done with a Pi, but was “klunky”, so I want to redo it with the smaller Pi Zero type processor).

    In Walmart and Best Buy the flip phones are about $15 to $20-something and do not look like they have any OS in them at all. I’ve not done the homework to assure that, but it looks like number keys only. I’ll go check again as things do change over the years. (When I got my last phone ,as I’d forgotten to pack mine for the flight… they were sold out of the cheap flip phones…) I can’t see any reason to install a processor and OS into a flip phone that has no screen nor keyboard. It would just be wasted expense. But I will check it. The phone module alone has the ability to take key input and needs no OS. (For those who are not in to phones: The computer part talks to a “phone module” that does the radio to the cell tower and negotiates all the “phone stuff”. Essentially like a computer and modem talking to a wall wire, but with a radio / cell tower instead. “Dumb Phones” leave out the computer and just do key input directly to the radio / modem phone part. Or at least always did last I looked.)

    But the point is not about the hardware, it is about the people. Someone who just punches in a phone number and does not have a clue how to turn on or configure VOIP. My spouse for example. She has a very good iPhone with all the bells and whistles. IF I said to her “just turn on VOIP”, she would look at me blankly and ask “What’s a vowype?”

    Again: I am not, in any way, attacking or criticizing your advocacy for VOIP being made available. Yes, absolutely, do it. Make it happen. All I am advocating is to also have Real Cell Service for folks who are not able or willing to do VOIP. I think that’s a good thing to have available.

    Also, folks with the ability to roam onto T-Mobile (i.e. have GSM phones) can use the service even if not a T-Mobile subscriber. It is only the obligatory non-GSM phones (CDMA only) that can’t use it. I’m looking into CDMA micro/femto cells as the next step.

    Since T-Mobile basically gives you the device for free ($25 deposit only) I don’t see any reason to NOT plug it into the Starlink Ethernet and turn it on. Cost essentially nothing and it provides a service. I see zero reason to NOT do that.


    Yeah, I’m thinking that Mesh is a thing I’m going to get into and that GoTenna is in my future ;-)

    FWIW, when in the dorms in college (before Cell Phones Existed!…) we did a kind of “mesh”. My buddy and me ran wires down the outside of our dorm to each other’s rooms. With a switch in it, we could connect our phones and lines into a “party line”. We also had added a few “extension phones” in our rooms. One weekend we had The Phone Call. It was a party weekend and we each called different folks, then bridged them together. I think it was about 8 folks at once but that depended on how many extension phones the called folks had. Some folks were having their own party with several folks taking turns on the call. Some called other folks too, or recommended folks to call next. This went on for hours with different folks on the two lines “discovering” each other. YEARS later, I ran into a guy where I mentioned The Phone Call and it turns out he was one of them! I like to think that was the first Mobile Party on a phone rig ;-)

    Golly… I just realized that my first Phone Wiring was when I was about 8 years old (put an extension in my room) and over 1/2 century ago… I’ve been doing phone stuff that long…

    FWIW, it warms my heart that when Governments started mucking about with shutting down cell service and such, the tech world began rolling out Mesh In The Phone and other tech to basically say “Screw You!” to the tyrants. I’d looked at it at the time and thought “someone ought to do that” but didn’t have the time… but other folks did. I did a posting long long ago (Egyptian riots / tossing out their dictator?) about setting up a mesh to an exit point to the internet…

    What’s really heart warming, though, is that Elon seems to have reacted the same way, but with $Billions to put internet from the sky everywhere ;-)

  20. E.M.Smith says:

    Well a brief set of searches on “flip phone” and “minimal flip phone” and even “dumb phone” only found phones with screens on them. So it looks like T. Town may be right that you can no longer buy a phone without some OS in it. I’ll need to check out Walmart later to see if this is just a search artifact, or not.

    There still will be folks with such phones for a year or two though, until 3 G is actually killed off.

    Hmmm…. Maybe I need to get a femto-cell device that supports 3 G just to see how long my phone lives ;-)

    This also means it is likely time for me to get a Round Tuit and build my own secure phone… Linux based and with switches… (Or maybe the other Linux folks who said they were making / selling them have got it done now… It has been a couple of years since I last looked… Pine, with the Pine Phone, unfortunately, is now China based and I just can’t trust any electronics out of China to be secure…)

    It actually isn’t that hard to build a cell phone. First time I saw this was at Apple in the ’80s. One of the Engineers had a cellular radio and computer breadboard on his lab desk. We talked about what he was doing. (Prior to the iPhone existing, he was working on it…) It is “just” a computer talking to a software defined radio / modem.

  21. Power Grab says:

    I still have a flip phone. When I parked it in a drawer, I first removed the battery. I don’t remember how old it is, but packrat that I am, I couldn’t bring myself to dispose of it. I would have to dig it out and examine it, but it might go back to 2006.

  22. E.M.Smith says:

    @Power Grab:

    It is likely a 3G phone. I doubt the phone carrier would activate it for service. I had a wonderful Sony phone many years back. It had a switch failure and I swapped to another phone. Got it repaired about a year or two later and went to get it re-activated. Was told “Nope”. It was, IIRC, able to do Analog and 2 G and they had just swapped to 3G at the telco…

    There was still 2 G service available, but they were refusing new activations. I expect the same is true now for 3 G. (4 G LTE is to be around a good long while. The LTE is for Long Term Evolution meaning they intend to keep it around a while.)

  23. Kneel says:

    “(4 G LTE is to be around a good long while. The LTE is for Long Term Evolution meaning they intend to keep it around a while.)”

    Much longer than 3G/4G – you can use 4G on a 5G network if tower has correct software running, there are no hardware changes required.

    For 4G, network is pure IP, with QoS for voice traffic, so no surprise that “computerless” phones not available.

    4G module (RF part) typically mPCIe and enumerates USB devices – ethernet adapter “direct” on the LTE network, and also USB serial port that supports PPP connection to LTE network as “legacy” connection.

    Just to give you an idea of what you are up for to “roll your own”…

  24. E.M.Smith says:


    Thanks for the specifics. FWIW, I’ve been looking at DIY cell phones for a while now. If you think about it, even the one at Apple 40 years ago was in some ways DIY as all Engineering prototypes are… Then there’s things like:
    or you can buy a kit:

    and even one using a Raspberry Pi:

    I originally intended to get a Pine Phone as it has kill switches built in, but they moved their HQ from Silicon Valley to China and now I have no idea if I can trust their hardware to not be bugged.

    So it isn’t like I have to invent this stuff from scratch. More of “some assembly required”…

  25. E.M.Smith says:

    Golly! There’s a lot more Linux Phones available now than last time I looked!

    But with new Linux phones populating the market every month, which one should you consider? This somewhat long post will guide you towards what are in our opinion the best picks out of this growing market. None of these is bad, despite the numerical ranking suggesting otherwise. Bad choices have been more simply excluded.
    #8 — Planet Computers Cosmo Communicator
    #9 — The old phone in your drawer
    We will never get tired of saying this: if you have an older Android device sitting in your drawer, chances are that it can run postmarketOS or some other Linux to some extent. Granted, the level of support varies a lot between devices, and you must be ready to overwrite the Android ROM completely for this purpose, but there are currently already over 80 phones running the mainline kernel, many more than they used to be months ago.

    So they have 8 listed that are working OK, and there’s a lot more than can be made to work to some extent.

    Their #1 pick is the Pine phone… I just don’t know if there enough eyeballs looking at it to trust the (now) All China company origin.

  26. Taz says:

    MySudo offers secure PBX service to other subscribers via VOIP. It works through any IP connection.

    They could still track you from your ESN…but could not access your calling history. When you exit that PBX to call through the greater PSTN through Twilio you will lose all security, but Twilio now has a reputation. They are the ONLY carrier to ever receive an award from the EFF. You won’t be that one of 100,000 Verizon sells to the FBI. Twilio challenges every warrant in court. Effectively negating “dragnet” searches by overeager government clowns with taxpayer provided credit cards.

    For those needing more, they could just use this service through an office or coffeeshop wifi system, or simply connect to Musk’s satellite network using an ipod (no cellular radio involved ever).

    Another option. Buy a faraday box. Put your phone in it. Use only for emergencies to call 911 (no service needed). You can also insert an emergency satellite radio into that box ( and keep the service active for $55/yr. Their 911 commercial call center is five stars. Beyond anything a city would provide to you.

  27. Taz says:
    The Most Secure Way to Communicate? An iPod Touch

  28. E.M.Smith says:


    I did a test where I put a radio inside a metal cookie can (nice round one ;-). It still received stations…

    Odd since it is an iron can. So ought to block both the E and M of EM Waves. My guess is that since it isn’t grounded and isn’t very thick, it isn’t good enough to stop a 50 kW station 50 miles away… But “more testing required”.

    Maybe I’ll put my cell phone in it and call me ;-)

    FWIW: Until now my interest in Burner Phones was largely as a White Hat looking for how to defeat a Black Hat using them. Where were their likely error points in the process, what were the weaknesses in the anonymity. Recently that has changed…

    Given that there is clearly an attempt at Global Tyranny, driven by the WEF / Young Leaders Program along with fellow traveler Sorors and his “NGOs”, and all aligned with Global Socialism and the CCP push into 5th Gen Warfare:

    I’m now looking at it from the “how do I keep my communications private when the balloon goes up?” side.

    THE major problems I see are the OS being largely Android so a Google Infested project. That points to “get a Linux phone” (or use the Linux / Unix derived iPhone / iPod) and then have a process of changing the EIN in place (unique hardware identifier) which is unfortunately illegal in some parts of the world. Oh Well… Then the need for hardware kill switches on battery, microphone, camera, Cellular Modem, etc. That alone, I think, points to using a Linux Phone with that hardware in it.

    Thus my saying I think I need to build my own “next cell phone”. To have the hardware kill switches and control of the O/S and software.

    Why haven’t I done it yet? Well, pretty simple: almost 100% of my telephone use is boring and mundane in the extreme. Can I pick up ice cream on the way home? When will my car be ready? Can I come in an hour early for my dental check? Where’s the address I’m going to pick up what for your cousin? What do you want for dinner and can KFC work for you tonight? No, I’m not doing anything interesting, I’m not home yet because I’m changing a tire, not because of a “hook up”, now can I wipe the grease off the phone and get back to it? Yes, I really did sign into my account today. No, I don’t want to buy more life insurance. Etc.

    IF I had anything at all that I cared to keep secret, I’d have done something about it. Only now, with global Fascist Socialists pushing the edges of the envelope, when saying “Maybe cloth masks with 50 micron holes can’t stop 5 micron things” can get you classed as a “terrorist” am I starting to feel the need…

    Oh Well…

    It will likely be another month or two before I can get to that, just because for now the focus is on Escaping Kalifornia for the Free State Of Florida…

  29. philjourdan says:

    2 things

    #1 – ““What’s a vowype?”” – Uh, EM, sounds like you have a southern accent? I Pronounce it VOH IP. You from “Southern” California? :-)

    #2 – I kept all my old phones. I got my first one in 98. It is the about 8x3x3 inches. My son found it back in the early aughts and asked what it was? (he was born in late 92, but was not conversant on cell phones until he was about 14). He could not believe it was a cell phone! And one of the premier ones of the time! It did analog and digital voice!

  30. jim2 says:

    I have an older metal filing cabinet with two drawers. Cell phones can’t connect in it.

  31. E.M.Smith says:


    I sense a test of cell phone vs cookie tin in my future ;-)


    One of my cars (now parts car at the mechanic) was about a 1980 240 D and had a built in cell phone (before using them in cars was illegal…). It’s about the same size (I’d guess about 6 x 6 x 3) and with a full size handset mounted near the driver…

    Old original analog / digital were 4 Watt devices. Then they swapped to 400 MW about 2 or 3 G. Current devices are also low power but adjust output to match that needed to reach the ground station, so variable to even lower.

    BTW, I’m an “honorary Texan” as I married into a Texas Clan…. My accent varies from British (thanks Mum) to “Standard American” (thanks Dad & California) to somewhat Texan (thanks in-laws) depending on whom it is I’m talking with…

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