DZOTA: Dead Zones On The Air

Have you seen those cell-phone company maps showing how much of the country they cover? Inevitably, they reveal a patchwork of Dead Zones (DZs): places where coverage is not just's non-existent.

In such inhospitable realms, your choices are smoke signals, sat phone, or ham radio. This smacks of an opportunity. Hence DZOTA.

DZOTA places are often DeZerted. In fact, they are often in dezerts, in contrast to many of the conspicuous high places typical of SOTA. This may be a benefit to outdoor radio enthusiasts who, when hiking, prefer level ground or even a gentle downward slope. And in an emergency, those hikers might be the only ones around with comms.

Where are the most notorious DZs? I have a few tiny cell network black holes in my urban neighborhood, thanks to AT&T. But the truly inspiring DZs are far from civilization, covering tens or hundreds of square miles. Typically, they're also far from sources of noise.

I have no illusions that DZOTA sites will be officially tracked and chased anytime soon. Still, the "NO SIGNAL" icon on my phone now has new meaning. It's a bug you, too, can change to a feature just by keeping a radio in your vehicle at all times.

In my case, it's the spare KX2 and AX1 under the driver's seat.


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  • The eastern 1/3 of Maui is a dead zone for cell phones. Hmm, an opportunity beckons?


  • I love it! Where I live, here in Montana, more of the state has dead zones than cell coverage! Now that I just bought a Jeep, I need to install a HF rig and start working some DZOTA zones!!!! Shoot… just a couple of years ago, my home was in a DZOTA zone!!!!

    73 es 72,

    Lyndel, N7LT
    Kalispell, MT Former DZOTA zone DN28.

    Lyndel, N7LT

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