Could cell phones act as cell phone relay towers in an emergancy?

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Spinnor
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In an emergency could scattered cell phones form a communications network if properly programed without need for relay towers? I'm guessing such a system might have severe limitations but if the software was built in it might be an inexpensive way to keep communications going during an emergency.

Or could cell phones be reprogrammed so they acted as cheap walkie talkies?

Thanks for any ideas or help!
 
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  • #2
Spinnor
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In an emergency could scattered cell phones form a communications network if properly programed without need for relay towers? I'm guessing such a system might have severe limitations but if the software was built in it might be an inexpensive way to keep communications going during an emergency.

Or could cell phones be reprogrammed so they acted as cheap walkie talkies?

Thanks for any ideas or help!

Maybe we might have to limit such a system to only text messages, no problem for most of today's youth?
 
  • #3
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The system is not designed for that mode of communication. The silicon in the existing phones can't be reprogrammed to do it.
 
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Spinnor
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The system is not designed for that mode of communication. The silicon in the existing phones can't be reprogrammed to do it.

If not changeable could such a system be built in, in theory?
 
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Spinnor
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If not changeable could such a system be built in, in theory?

Better stated maybe, using existing hardware could software changes enable such a system?
 
  • #6
Spinnor
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One problem I guess. Because a cell tower can distinguish the relatively weak signal of a cell phone because of sensitive receivers the distance between cell phones would need to be smaller then the distance between a cell phone and a relay tower to communicate?

Also, as a cell tower can transmit at a greater relative power then a cell phone, cell phones would need to be closer to talk to each other, assuming proper hardware and software changes were made?
 
  • #7
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On top of what other people said already, I believe the cell phone signal is quite weak for one. The second and even more important, the system now is mainly each cell phone communicate only to the cell tower, the provider do all the switching. The software protocode needed in the individual phone in order to be able to selectively talk to one individual reciever would be very difficult. Imagine you have one million walkie talkie in one small area and the modulation or protocode has to be able to pin point to one reciever. I am not sure the air wave can even support this many individual transcievers.
 
  • #8
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Better stated maybe, using existing hardware could software changes enable such a system?

Yes, easily. But it might be quite unsuitable for use as a telephone network.

Such hardware already exists under a standard called 802.15.4. You can buy the complete radio modules for around $25.

If you are interested in pursuing this, I suggest the modules from Synapse. They are programmed in python and can form a true peer-to-peer network of the type you described. Most of the 802.15.4 protocol stacks define a special unit called a coordinator node without which you cannot form the network.
 

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