Monday, May 22, 2023

"U.S. Senators issued satellite phones..." (fortunately there's an Elon Musk for the rest of us)

First up, from CBS News, May 21:

Amid growing concerns of security risks to members of Congress, more than 50 senators have been issued satellite phones for emergency communication, people familiar with the measures told CBS News. The devices are part of a series of new security measures being offered to senators by the Senate Sergeant at Arms, who took over shortly after the assault on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

The satellite phone technology has been offered to all 100 senators. CBS News has learned at least 50 have accepted the phones, which Senate administrative staff recommend senators keep in close proximity during their travels. 

In testimony before the Senate Appropriations Committee last month, Senate Sergeant at Arms Karen Gibson said satellite communication is being deployed "to ensure a redundant and secure means of communication during a disruptive event."  

Gibson said the phones are a security backstop in the case of an emergency that "takes out communications" in part of America. Federal funding will pay for the satellite airtime needed to utilize the phone devices.

A Department of Homeland Security advisory said satellite phones are a tool for responding to and coordinating government services in the case of a "man-made" or natural disaster that wipes out communication....


Related from the WEF: "A Catastrophic Mutating Event Will Strike the World in 2 Years, Report Says" I'm thinking late October, 2024.

And while SpaceX's Starlink does not yet offer phones they entered into a joint venture with T-Mobile last year. From the unofficial Starlink hardware site:

....Starlink and T-Mobile partnership

In August 2022, Starlink and T-Mobile announced a partnership for a global emergency communications system. Starlink’s newest satellites will be deployed with a special antenna capable of communicating with existing cell phone hardware.

The new system will use T-Mobile’s existing cellular frequency bands. For now, the global roaming service will support very low data messaging, but Elon Musk has indicated support for voice calls and real-time messaging in the future.

It’s possible that Starlink will partner with other carriers in the future. One day, we may see nearly all cell phones and plans with the capability of emergency messaging globally, where cell signals don’t exist. With a clear view of the sky, cell phones could connect to the Starlink satellites from anywhere in the world.

Current Starlink phone compatibility

Currently, Starlink is fully compatible with Wifi calling. That means you can use your cell phone to make calls by connecting to the Starlink Wifi network in your Starlink system.

Wifi calling is supported by most mobile carriers, but it’s important that you check with your own carrier to make sure your phone and plan support the Wifi calling feature. You’ll also need to be within Wifi range of your Starlink router in order to use the Wifi calling feature via Starlink....


Also at PC Magazine, December 7, 2022:

SpaceX to Serve T-Mobile Phones With Second-Gen Starlink Satellites
SpaceX is asking the FCC for permission to outfit some of its second-generation Starlink satellites with equipment capable of beaming data to T-Mobile phones on the ground.

So it is coming, I just hope to have one before the next U.S. Presidential election. 

If not, a separate sat. phone is probably in order and though adding another phone to the collection is less than elegant, it is still light-years ahead of the old uplink-downlink  clunkers.