I like to go on multi day hikes, however I need to be able to access the internet on my phone for work related emergencies. Recently I had a very annoying situation. I needed to send a single e-mail and it was very bothersome and ruined half my day staring at my phone, checking if the mail was send etc. What are some solutions to this? In my country there is mobile internet practically everywhere, but when you are between hills in remote areas sometimes you hardly have phone reception and very bad internet if at all. I was thinking of getting satellite internet, but the equipment needed seems to be heavy and bulky. Another potential solution would be some kind of plug in antenna, I can plug into my phone in order to increase my connection. Not sure if such a thing exists and if it would work. What is the best solution for this problem? Or maybe I need to get a phone with external antenna? It would need to be a smart phone so I can access apps.
You have a couple of options:
- Buy a satellite internet terminal (Inmarsat's BGAN system is probably the market leader but there are alternatives e.g. ThurayaIP). These tend to be expensive (e.g. $1500 plus $150/month for 50MB data) and heavy (around 1kg though more expensive models are somewhat lighter). However they will work anywhere with a view of the sky.
- Try an external antenna (e.g. see here for some examples). These are much cheaper and work with your existing phone and data plan. However not all phones can be connected to these (if yours has a hands-free in-car mounting option it should be possible); also they are generally designed for vehicles so may not be particularly practical for hiking. And they will only improve connection in marginal signal areas, not in areas with no signal - so in mountainous terrain you may well still need to hike up the nearest ridge.
- Could you change your workflow so that text-only communication is an option in work emergencies? This would open up more options (satellite trackers/messagers - which also have a useful safety function if hiking alone in the wilderness)