The National Radio Quiet Zone

800px-Green_Bank_100m_diameter_Radio_TelescopeImagine living in a place where no cell phones are allowed, no Wi-Fi is allowed, and no radio stations broadcast. To you, is this a nightmare (bad dream) or a dream come true (something very good or desirable)?

If this appeals (sounds good) to you, you may want to move to a 13,000 square mile (34,000 square kilometer) area in eastern West Virginia.

This area has been designated as (officially named) the United States National Radio Quiet Zone since 1958. That means communication signals (electronic waves used to transmit or send information through the air) are severely (very much) limited.

The reason this Zone is needed is because the world’s largest fully steerable (movable) radio telescope is located there — the Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope. This radio telescope is very large and it tracks (looks for and follows) energy waves that come from outer space (area beyond the Earth) coming from stars and gases. Because these energy waves are very faint (weak; barely able to be noticed), the telescope has to be in an area that is very quiet. That’s the reason cell phones, Wi-Fi, radio stations (with one exception, because it broadcasts at a very low frequency), and other similar types of communications are largely banned (not allowed by law).

Not all types of radio transmissions are banned, of course. For example, police, fire department, and ambulance (emergency vehicle used to take hurt people to the hospital) radios are allowed.

I’m not sure how many people live in this Zone. This recent article mentions residents (people who live there) and businesses that have to contend with (deal with) these limitations. But if you visit this area, expect to use landline telephones (telephone service connected by wires) or pay phones.

Are there areas you’re familiar with where cell phone and Internet services are not available or not allowed? Would you ever consider moving to a place where there are these types of restrictions?

– Lucy

Photo Credit: Green Bank 100m Diameter Radio Telescope from Wikipedia

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15 Responses to The National Radio Quiet Zone

  1. Aécio Flávio Perim says:

    Yes, this is the place I dream of. a place with no one to bother me, no sound of horns, no complaints. no neighbors. no car accidents. no police, no weapons, nothing that could make me feel miserable. The only one I would permit beside me was a beautiful woman. That is the Heaven! I know! But dreaming is worth it. Regardles the costs. And you people in Jeff podcast? What do you think about? Would you be happy alone in this place? Would you miss the phone, the radio, TV, babies, refrigerator, sofa, hot shower, friends? No? Good for you. See you next time in that place where there are no people.
    Aecio from outer space.

  2. Aécio Flávio Perim says:

    One more thing, no you.

  3. emiliano says:

    Lucy, this is absolutely new for me as I have not any idea about it.
    Thanks so much as it is an interesting subject.

    Well, I have not any reason to translate home to a place like this,
    why for?.
    It depends of me the using of the phone, internet, and other
    gadgets. If I like to be isolated it is really easy here, we can go
    to the mountains and left everything that could be electronic
    devices off.
    No phones, no tv., no wifi, nothing even you can live without
    It is a free option which ever country you are living on.
    For instance my daughter Eva is living in La Palma, an island of
    Canarias where there are living very few personso but even
    in Canarias Islands there are other islands as Hierro or La Gomera
    where you may live without nothing like these electronics
    gadgests in the middle of the island land.
    Of course you may have your phone or your tv., but it is always
    a free choice I think.

    Of course it is my opinion but I don´t think it is necessary to
    go a place like the The National Radio Quiet Zone if you want
    to be living in Natura without all these inventions, just leave
    everything behind and go to the field.
    Yes that could be a nice good idea to have in mind.

    My best dear Lucy.

  4. Dan says:

    Thank you Lucy,

    Wow that thing is huge. I would like to play with that toy, just to see how it turns.

    The location looks beautiful as well.

    Thanks. bye!

  5. Wang says:

    Yeah Lucy!

    There are places in my country where you can’t find any signals for your mobile phone or walkie-talkie 😉

    I found it quite frustrating because of that. Most of the time it occurs when I’m in rural areas.

    I don’t know why. There is a state-run carrier which owns up to some where around 50 percent of the market

    They have been providing good services toward us, their clients. But only for like, in the urban areas.

    Not all, but there are a few places in the buffer zone between provinces, the locals themselves haven’t received any services.

    I don’t know why they want to invest their capital into other countries but being a bit inattentive to the interior market.

    Personally, I think they are supposed to bolster up their system then they can take the next step, invest out of the nation.

    Could you let me know that in your countries, can you get any signals while being up in the forest or mountains?

    Well, for our beaches, the carrier has been doing well, they expend the coverage down there too but not the mountains and some areas.

    Thank you Lucy! you have just set up another dream inside of me :P…going to see the steerable telescope

    good work, everybody 😀

    From Wang :D!

  6. Zhang says:

    Wow, that is a great topic.

  7. Myo ko ko says:

    Well, Lucy
    Just before I put down this note here,
    I’ve had a thorough read the NPR article your cited.
    One thing interesting for me as an ESL learner was that there was only one word I don’t know in that article.
    It was “sparsely” and I had to look it up in the wordbook in order to pick it up. Just that one word!

    To give my two cents here . . .
    Eh . . . kinda . . . what I’m supposed to say . . .?
    Humm, Lucy
    Rather than I’m kind of thinking it as of being a nightmare or a dream come true to me,
    it’s better to have a counter-question here.
    So my question is, for inhabitants living in that region,
    Is this a “privilege” or a sort of being “deprived” to have to live in a such area?

    This is the question and at the same time the answer that draws the line!

    No way to live in a such vicinity.
    You know, there is no connectivity, there is no ESL Podcasts!! 😉

    Myo ko ko

  8. emiliano says:

    He Lucy, there is an astronomical observatory located on the island of La Palma in the Canary Islands, just where my daughter Eva lives now.
    The observatory is operated by the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias, and it is part of the European Northern Observatory.

    The seeing statistics at ORM make it the second-best location for optical and infrared astronomy in the Northern Hemisphere, after Mauna Kea Observatory, Hawaii.
    The site also has some of the most extensive astronomical facilities in the Northern Hemisphere; its fleet of telescopes includes the adaptive optics corrected
    Swedish 1-m Solar Telescope, which provides the highest resolution solar imaging of any telescope, and the 10.4 m Gran Telescopio Canarias, the world’s largest
    single-aperture optical telescope as of July 2009.

    The site and the capital of La Palma has an agreement of not lighting too much the city and nothing the sourroundings, just to avoid any interferences to the

    The great Telescope it is called “Roque de los Muchachos” because it is built in the top of a pick with that name, so despite La Palma island it is small it has
    hight mountains and nights are so clear that the site is absolutely right to have the Observatory.

    My best dear Lucy, emiliano

  9. Parviz says:

    Hi Lucy,
    Your account of the place is stunning.
    Not seeing or talking to my nieces and nephews is certainly a nightmare for me.
    They are so cute and inspiring, that I will never want to live/be around a place where my cell phone is banned, Landline telephones are limited.
    Because I can’t live unawares of them. We keep contact everyday. BUT….

    But, Today is an exception.
    Here is the thing. We here are moving through a notorious three-day traditional mourning.
    At nights crazy (for lack of a better word) people go out and cry in the memory of someone died (to be more exact killed) 14000 years ago (the grandson of the Last Prophet).
    Now, think about this. They cut my landline telephone off, The electricity power has gone (there was an incident to the grids), my mobile credit has run out, and, even worse, the internet goes very slowly, and I only do the shopping online.
    My room is very quiet and dark. Some invisible radio waves buzzing in my ears, and I can see stars and angles (angles!) with unequipped eyes.

    Thanks God my gas hasn’t been cut off, so I can keep the place warm. But, something is happening to my breathing,….
    Please, If you are not in The National Radio Quiet Zone, can you call an ambulance?

  10. Parviz says:

    Hi Hey every body.
    Aécio Flávio Perim, we lived once in Haven. Remember Adam lived in haven freely and bountifully until Eve came and…….Wish for something bigger.

    Our population (here in the ESL) is growing fast. I am happy with that.
    More people throw ideas here, It’s fantastic (of course all because of Jeff and Lucy).
    I wanted to write more, But my battery is dying in ten minutes.
    Nice reading your comments.

  11. soraia , from Brazil says:

    First all I would like to say thanks for this web site,
    You are an excellent help to us students of english
    language…thank you so much.
    Well, about this area in United States be more or less
    in other locals in the world for example these places where cell
    phones, wi-fi and radio don’t work because the signal is weak and
    I was working inside the mall and the cell phones didnt work
    because of building was very old or be the waves of radio was very weak.


  12. Lassana says:

    Hi Everybody,
    Interesting topic Lucy, thanks !
    First, thanks Lucy for give us a little bit of quiet in our wourld which gone too fast !
    I’d never heard before of this area where we can find a radio telescope that allows to get energy waves from outer space.
    Maybe one day we could get energy waves from an other planet by means of the radio telescope 😉

    Nowadays, I don’t know if a lot of people go to visit this area.
    We depend to much of our communication devices, such as cell phones. Also people who live there are probably not many.

    Moreover, I think that if we suffer too of the stress of our societies, it’s the place where we have to go to vacation, in order to change our ideas (it’s what we say in french when we have a lot of things in our mind, such as the work and daily problems).

    See you soon everybody !


  13. Rocky, from India says:

    In short, I’ll go there, where esl podcast are.

  14. Amir says:

    Hi Everybody.
    I’m Can’t Speak English From Iran.
    Can You help me?
    My Email

  15. Aécio Flávio Perim says:

    Amir, I’ll try to help you with what I have. I don’t know if it is useful, but I will.
    Aecio, hidden in a place, no will to see anybody but you.

Comments are closed.