ANTARCTICA IS PROBABLY the last place you’d expect cellphone service. But thanks to the Australian government and a company called Range Networks, you’ll soon be able to find a signal near several research facilities on the continent.
Range has already brought GSM service–the same type of network that carries voice calls and text messages elsewhere in the world–to Macquarie Island, a small island just outside the Antarctic Circle. This is preferable to walkie talkies or Wi-Fi because it provides wider coverage while using less energy. And although the network has a satellite uplink to connect it with the rest of the world, it doesn’t depend on satellites for local communications, which is essential to the safety of field researchers.