GREEN BANK, W.Va. (WBOY) — Most West Virginians know about Green Bank, a radio astronomy observatory in Pocahontas County that is inside a National Radio Quiet Zone (NRQZ). This means that while the telescope is making discoveries about the universe, the community of Green Bank and the surrounding area are missing some of technology’s modern luxuries and safety features, including cell phones.

A release from the Green Bank Observatory sent Monday explained that without the ability to call 911 or even use normal radio signals, first responders need a new way to maintain safety in the Green Bank community without interfering with the NRQZ.

“We are in a rural, mountainous and remote location with a small population. This makes it challenging to set up uninterrupted communications services,” said Jim Jackson, Director of National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Green Bank Observatory.

Since 1958, the 10-mile radius around GBO has been within both the NRQZ and West Virginia Radio Astronomy Zone (WVRAZ), meaning wifi, cell phones and even some microwaves are off-limits to Green Bank.

But according to Monday’s release, an updated agreement has been established between the NRQZ and Pocahontas County Commission that will give emergency services the ability to use a radio band that can operate with lower power. While this update does not give Green Bank residents the convenience of calling 911 from their cell phone, it will help increase public safety with minimal impact on the Observatory, the release said, and expand communication coverage to Bartow and the Snowshoe Ski Resort.

Although similar coverage already exists in other parts of the county, funding makes the move to Green Bank slow, the release said. “The final barrier to fully executing these improvements is adequate funding. From county engineers to the Observatory staff, we are all at the mercy of budgets,” said Jackson.

Because multiple agencies are involved, the question of who will pay for the improvements has not been answered yet, said the release.