Is there a (nuclear fallout) scenario imaginable where international communications are thrown back to the stone age?


  • Satellites are EMP'd out of the sky
  • Transoceanic cables are cut
  • Ionisation of the stratosphere blocks all long-distance HAM radio use

Asking because my post-apocalyptic novel needs a setting where long-range communications are extremely difficult.

Thanks in advance for your knowledge and wisdom!

closed as off-topic by Conor Mancone, Steffen Ullrich, Matthew, ThoriumBR, Rory Alsop Apr 30 '18 at 14:00

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

  • "This question does not appear to be about Information security within the scope defined in the help center." – Conor Mancone, Steffen Ullrich, Matthew, ThoriumBR, Rory Alsop
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    Welcome! Could this be a better fit for worldbuilding.SE? – Arminius Apr 30 '18 at 12:52
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    Hi Wouter, I think you are in the wrong place. Why don't you try the world building stack exchange? Your question is probably on-topic there (although I'm not an expert on that exchange), but it definitely isn't on-topic here. We're here to answer questions about information security. – Conor Mancone Apr 30 '18 at 12:52
  • Hey guys, thanks for your comment. Could be, but I'd like a robust expert on this issue. I saw this thread: security.stackexchange.com/questions/184897/… and I figured I should follow up with a question of my own to get some real experts to look at it. What do you think? – Wouter Chompff Apr 30 '18 at 12:59
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    An alternative to asking on Worldbuilding would be to ask on Writers.SE. – Chenmunka Apr 30 '18 at 13:32
  • Thanks for showing the noob around, gentlemen. I've added myself to both .SE's. – Wouter Chompff Apr 30 '18 at 14:33
  • You don't need to EMP satellites. Nuclear superpowers have anti-satellite missile to take down enemy communications. This would also make it hard to launch new satellites as there would be large amount of debris in orbit.
  • A nuclear war would cause nuclear winter, which is caused by high amount of dust in the air. Assuming the dust has lots of metal in it, I can easily imagine it blocking radio-waves, even though I am not sure, if it would in reality.
  • The cables are harder to justify away. There is not really much tactical value in cutting them IMO. But as they are likely to terminate in or near cities, you can go with them being nuked. Another option is that the transmitting devices were destroyed by the EMP and they are way too high-tech to replace in post-apocalyptic world.


  • Cables in oceans have repeaters, that help extend the range of the signal, as the light can only travel certain distance. You can claim the EMP blast destroyed these repeaters (in reality, it is likely the water would protect them IMO).
  • Awesome. Thanks for your answer. Would it be safe to say that the nuclear winter would 'die down' and that the radio would function normally again afterwards? Let's say several months/years? – Wouter Chompff Apr 30 '18 at 14:33
  • @WouterChompff yes, it is likely it would "die down" after several years. Do you need something more long term? – Peter Harmann Apr 30 '18 at 14:37
  • Ideally, yes. Is there any way we can 'kill off' HAM transcontinental communications? Or will I be stretching into fantasy land then? – Wouter Chompff Apr 30 '18 at 14:41
  • @WouterChompff I can't see a way to kill it of naturally right now. Will write here if I think of something. One possibility would simple be leftover jammers, but I am not sure how long those would keep going, especially if people tried to actively disable them. – Peter Harmann Apr 30 '18 at 14:45
  • Hey Peter thanks so much for your kind contribution. I'll go bake it into the story! Mighty curious what you might come up with still, though. – Wouter Chompff Apr 30 '18 at 14:47

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