Updated: Barry has found a source selling them online for only $250!
Not counting emergency LF radio, we’ve got three different ways of getting to the outside world.
1) There’s a thin but constant Iridium satellite link available 24 hours a day. Short email messages and phone calls go out on a best-effort basis if there’s bandwidth left over from essential station communications.
2) There’s an old tired GOES-3 satellite that’s still functional, but too slow to be commercially viable, so we get to use that for about 7 hours each day when it’s above the horizon and not frazzled by solar activity.
3) There’s also a spiffy new TDRSS-5 satellite. It’s in demand for stuff like NASA communications and Bob-knows-what, but the station is allocated about 3-4 windows of time on it each day, lasting about 45 minutes each.
We’ve got an intranet page showing satellite pass times, and they’re also displayed on the overhead monitors in the galley.
Cell phones? Not at all, though I carry my Android around to check email when in range of wifi.
Updated: I was remiss in not mentioning Brent Jones, OAE and Polie extraordinaire, who was the source of gobs of information getting me ready for the Pole. Back in the ’90s, it was Brent who first got Pole online – you can read all about it, and see a screenshot of the very first internet connection from the bottom of the world at http://www.southpolestation.com/trivia/90s/ftp1.html
“Is it like you are in outer space to be on the south pole, because it is so different compared to the rest of the world, and do you ever have to wear an astronaut suit because it is so cold?”
Of course, I have it easy – I work indoors and only have to go outside for the 10-minute walking “commute” from my Jamesway to the station. The folks who spend all day outdoors have special gear. And all this changes later in the summer, once it gets warmer (-20C). Folks will go out in bibs and hats, and just leave the big parkas behind.