Free Press Journal

Now, cell phones to ring even on Antarctica


New York: How about planning your next trip to Antarctica? No, this is not a joke as the earth’s southernmost continent, with bone-chilling weather, can now boast of a “cell phone service”.

The GSM service – network that carries voice calls and text messages elsewhere in the world – has been brought to Macquarie Island, a small island just outside the Antarctic Circle, courtesy the Australian government and California-based private company Range Networks.

The beauty of the technology is that although the network has a satellite up-link to connect it with the rest of the world, it does not depend on satellites for local communications.

It uses the open source platform called OpenBTS (Open Base Transceiver Station) – making the cost dirt cheap, compared to the GSM technology being used elsewhere in the world.

“All you need to run a GSM network with OpenBTS is radio software and an off-the-shelf Linux server,” Ed Kozel, CEO of Range Networks, was quoted as saying in a report.

The service is useful to the researchers’ community on Antarctica, particularly field scientists who need to go out in the cold to fetch data.

“The same technology can also be used in remote areas across the world,” Kozel emphasised.