Should You Get a Cellphone or Use an Autopatch?

On this page I will try to present some facts to consider.
Good: Bad:
  • Usable over a very wide area, even the whole continent on some plans.
  • No license needed.
  • Much more private conversations.
  • Cellphone a little more socially acceptable than a clunky HT in public.
  • Scanners can't listen in to the newer digital units.
  • Digital audio quality.
  • You can call any number you want to.
  • You can stay on the call as long as you want (or until your battery runs out).
  • You can make business related phone calls.
  • You can say anything you want to.
  • Music heard while on hold won't matter (unless you have a problem with it).
  • Can take incoming calls.
  • Turn on the phone, and it can tell you if you got voicemail while the phone was off.
  • They can cost real bucks a month compared to an autopatch membership.
  • You may have a long contract (2 years or more) with the cellphone company.
  • May not work in the mountains or off the main highways in the desert.
  • Cops may cite you for yakking and driving (in some places).
  • Some people hate cellphones!

Good: Bad:
  • Much cheaper cost per year.
  • Usable in some areas where a cellphone can't get out.
  • Cops won't cite you for talking into a radio microphone while driving.
  • The radio is useful for more than just phone calls.
  • After the next earthquake or other disaster, the autopatch phone line will probably be back up quicker, while the cellular sites are still solidly jammed with their users trying to make calls. At such times, ham radio shines. (Of course the homeowner assocations and the city won't believe you until it happens.)
  • Near zero privacy. Everybody and their dog can listen in to your phone call.
  • You need a ham license.
  • You'll probably need to join a repeater club to even get autopatch privileges.
  • You can't use it for business related calls.
  • Probably can only make local calls with it.
  • Unless you have an HT, you can't use it just anywhere.
  • Even then, your HT may be out of place in a posh restaurant etc.
  • Unavailable outside the range of the repeater.
  • May need to wait for someone else to finish with their call.
  • May need to wait for the current ragchewers to let you make a call.
  • May need to wait for the net or drill in progress to end before you can use it.
  • Repeater jammers may interfere with your call.
  • The repeater may be down or turned off for the night.
  • There's no contract to keep it going. The repeater owner may pull the plug and call it quits.
  • You have a maximum amount of time per call (like 8 minutes or so, usually).
  • If music comes back and gets onto the air, you and/or the repeater owner could get into trouble with the FCC.
  • No *%##@ cussing!
  • Can't get incoming calls (usually).
  • No voicemail (usually).
  • People see you talking into an HT, think it's a cellphone, and want to "just borrow it to make a call."

One on One:
Cellphone: Autopatch:
Coverage coast to coast. Coverage in some places where there aren't any cell sites.
Costs money. Costs less money.
No license needed. Need a ham license.
The phone's smaller. The radio's useful for other than just phone calls.
It's trendy. It's technical.
Privacy and freedom of speech. It's fun listening to other people's calls.
Gotta sign up with a cellphone company. Gotta join a repeater club (if they'll have you).
Football is played in a stadium. Baseball is played in a park.
Tastes great! Less filling!

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Dave Bartholomew
Copyright © 1997-2000 David G. Bartholomew, AD7DB.
The contents of these pages do not necessarily reflect the opinions of my Internet provider, my page host (, my employer, nor anyone else.
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