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9 Questions About Cellular Phones Answered
Monday, September 04, 2006
1. What's the difference between analog and digital phones?

Analog phones operate on an older and less effective technology. This technology doesn't scale well and is more costly. Analog service is not compatible with numerous new features. Digital phones are lighter and more compact and have a longer battery life. When you are inside of a calling area the quality is better than analog. Digital phones support new features like caller ID, text messaging or wireless internet services.

2. What is a Dual Band Phone?

A Dual band phone is a phone that can operate on an analog and digital service.

3. What type of battery has the longest life?

Lithium-Ion or Li-Ion batteries have the longest life. They also happen to be the lightest in weight. The two pluses means there is minus attached, which is price. A li-ion battery will always be the most expensive type of battery available.

4. What's the difference between the Stand-by time and Talk time?

Your phone is in standby mode when your phone is on but you aren't talking. The power consumption is minimal and the phone can stay in this mode for a longer period of time. When you are using the phone you are using talk time. This consumes battery power at a much quicker rate. Your battery life will be somewhere between talk time and standby time

5. What is a roaming charge?

A roaming charge is when you make a call from outside of your calling area. Your calling area is defined by plan local, regional or national.

6. What are peak and off peak hours?

Peak hours are during the day when the cellular networks are very busy. These minutes are at premium and your plan will typically include the smallest amount of these. If you use more than your allotted peak minutes they will be billed at a much higher rate than off peak minutes. Off peak is the exact opposite of peak time. Each cellular provider has their own definition of off peak.

7. What are anytime minutes?

Anytime minutes are simply put minutes you can use anytime, peak or off peak. On most plans you will use anytime minutes first.


8. Should I buy a cell phone or look for a free cellular phone?

Free phones generally speaking don't have the latest features, they are anywhere from 6 to 12 months behind. Also, free cell phones generally come with longer contracts. But, it is still possible to get a great deal on a free cell phone.

9. What to do if you want to upgrade/downgrade or cancel your service plan?

You can usually upgrade to higher plan without any cost. Some may force you to extend your contract for 1 to 2 years from that point. Downgrading your plan is often times not an option and when it is there is usually a penalty or fine.

posted by Din @ 5:54 PM   511 comments


Will Your Cell Phone Reach 911 in an Emergency?
Sunday, August 06, 2006
If you're one of the millions of cell phone users who count on their wireless phone for emergency 911 calling........

You might want to think again.

Unfortunately, there's no guarantee that your 911 call will be routed to an emergency call center. Much less, the emergency dispatcher will have the ability to pinpoint the call's location.

Why?

Part of the problem is lack of service. Often, in more rural areas, your cell phone has fewer towers available to receive reception. And, many of those towers are designed for analog calls - not digital.

But, since the FCC does not require it, fewer carriers offer analog service -- or the ability to connect to it.

Not surprising, since much of the carriers' revenue is dependant on features available only on digital networks.

Another problem?

There is no uniform Ehanced 911 system (E911) for wireless carriers. The FCC neglected to force the carriers to conform their E911 systems to a single technology.

Because of this, there are now two incompatable E911 systems in the works.

Nextel, Sprint and Verizon each have cell phones available that use the Global Positioning System (GPS) to find a caller's location. While Cingular and T-Mobile rely on a triangulation system.

Unfortunately, both E911 systems have their flaws. The GPS system needs a minimum of three satalites to be able to "read" the handset's location. Accuracy can be hampered by heavy vegetation, mountains or tall buildings.

The triangulation system also has its shortcomings, because it relies on the strength and timing of cell towers to determine a location. It, too, requires multiple towers for accuracy. This becomes more difficult in rural areas where towers are scarce.

To compound the problem, Emergency Call Centers are not equipt with the technology needed to field E911 calls. Most smaller centers lack the funding for the sophisticated equiptment, while others lack the knowledge on how to integrate it to their existing system.

According to a 2004 article in the San Diego Union Tribune, only about 12% of the country's 911 centers had the ability to pinpoint the location of wireless phone users emergency calls.

Which cell phone is best?

Dual band, or tri-band phones, allow both analog and digital frequencies. If a 911 call does not connect in a digital mode, the alternate analog network is available.

The FCC also requires that any carrier offering multi-frequency phones must allow the 911 call to roam to another service, if the call can not be completed on their own network.

Currently, only Cingular and Verizon offer dual or tri-bands for both their service and handsets. Sprint PCS and T-Mobile wireless phones operate on a digital band, but allow analog roaming.

Nextel uses its own iDEN network, which has limited roaming ability.

posted by Din @ 6:14 PM   1 comments


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