Who needs a signal? How to make a phone call without cell service
05/27/2020 / By Mary Miller / Comments
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Who needs a signal? How to make a phone call without cell service

If a large-scale disaster were to occur, the immediate impulse for most people would be to take out their cell phones and call their loved ones to ensure their safety. However, during such a scenario, the cell towers could be down or overloaded by the sheer volume of people trying to contact their family members. You might not even have cell phone service at all. Fortunately, there are ways to get around this dilemma, especially if you still have reliable internet access.

If you have a smartphone, you can easily download applications that can allow you to call even when your phone can’t get a signal. The great thing about these workarounds is that they don’t require a SIM card or a service provider, just internet access.

When making calls using these methods, remember to limit your calls to only emergency situations. Keep your calls short and to the point. Other people may need to make similar calls and you might have to share bandwidth with them.

As a backup, make sure to find other reliable means of communication with your loved ones, before disaster strikes. (Related: Be prepared: 3 Tips to better communicate with your family during an emergency.)

Wi-Fi calling

Some cell phone services allow for Wi-Fi calling. However, you should first make sure that your device is compatible with a Wi-Fi calling option.

To find out if your device can use Wi-Fi calling, as well as how to turn it on, you’ll need to check with your service provider, using the following links.

  • AT&T users can click on this link and scroll to the bottom of the page to check if your device is compatible.
  • Sprint users can check out this page to determine if you can make basic calls through Wi-Fi.
  • T-Mobile users can follow this link which will provide more details on if you’re eligible.
  • Verizon users can check this page to learn if your plan allows Wi-Fi calling and if your device is compatible.

You may notice a difference in sound quality when using this method, but what’s important is that you can get your message across.


Skype is known for being a universal application for both video and voice calls. It can be used on nearly all devices, including personal computers. This video chat application also allows you to send and receive text messages in real-time. Skype is especially useful for making international calls.

If the person you are trying to contact also has a Skype account, you can call them for free. However, in order to call a landline or cell phone number, you need to use Skype minutes. These are credits that can be directly purchased from inside the Skype application itself. Be sure to check if your account can avail of free Skype minutes every month, otherwise, you may have to purchase these before an emergency.


In an emergency, you can use the FaceTime application to make free calls. It is similar to Skype and has an option for video calling as well.

Unlike Skype, FaceTime only allows you to make calls to other contacts who also have FaceTime enabled. In order to make a call to another FaceTime user, simply launch the FaceTime application, search for the contact you want to call and click on the blue “i” in a circle to the right of their name.

One downside of FaceTime is that it is exclusive to iPhone users. Android phone users will have to make use of the previously listed options. When SHTF, you take any option available to you.

Find out more about how to communicate with your loved ones during emergencies by going to Preparedness.news.

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