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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.

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    Have a look at Garmin InReach - subscription based but via irridium satellite connectivity. Text based only I think.
    – bob1
    Sep 27 '20 at 23:00
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    Iridium GO! an option? Apparently 300 gram and communicates with satellite and smartphone. It's not cheap. Personally, I think the answer should be you don't, when you're on holiday you shouldn't be reachable for work, and for emergencies regular (satellite) phone connection is sufficient, no need for internet.
    – gerrit
    Sep 28 '20 at 9:59
  • @gerrit thanks Ill check it out. Problem is I am self employed and am competing with agencies with many employees. So I have to be reachable at all times basically. Sep 28 '20 at 11:38
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    I've never tried it so won't submit it as an answer, but I wonder if a 4G WiFi dongle on a drone would help. It would certainly increase your line of sight. Question: does your email app automatically send when you get back online?
    – Chris H
    Sep 28 '20 at 14:28
  • @ChrisH hah that's brilliant. Might actually work. I use gmail, I think it sends as soon as it gets internet. Sep 28 '20 at 18:12
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You have a couple of options:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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)
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  • Thanks for the options, the external antenna loos like a good idea. I think Ill try that first. Text only communication would only solve part of the problem. I could use an SMS to Email gateway for that. But I also need access to certain apps, like google spreadsheets and google ads. There could probably be a solution for that- feed an api commands via sms or something like that. But that is way more technical then I could hope to do on my own. Sep 28 '20 at 18:14
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    Using a spreadsheet via SMS on top of a mountain sounds miserable!
    – aucuparia
    Sep 30 '20 at 5:28
  • An external mobile phone antenna will only work if you are just slightly outside the normal coverage area. It won't let you track many kilometers into the wilderness where there was no coverage before.
    – rclocher3
    Oct 2 '20 at 0:51

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