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Cell Phone Terminology - The ABCs of Cellular Phones

Aug 28, 2008
If you are planning to take a trip overseas and want to know if your present cell phone will work, you will need to know the meaning of a variety of cell phone terms. Most of these definitions deal with cell phone networks and the types of phones that can be used with them.

One of the first terms that you may run across is AMPS, which stands for Advanced Mobile Phone Service. This type of cell phone service is what is known as 1st generation cell phone technology. While this type of system is no longer used in the United States, a small number of foreign countries still rely on AMPS for their mobile service (although major cities worldwide ceased its operation in 2000).

Simply put, AMPS was the first type of mobile service for cellular phones and was introduced in 1983 by Bell Labs. It was an analog- based system that uses separate frequencies for each individual conversation. Due to this feature, AMPS utilizes much more computer power in handling the rising number of cell phone calls.

There was also a higher occurrence of static and noise when using this operating system, and eavesdropping was possible with the use of a scanner. This eavesdropping can allow an unauthorized person to clone the Electronic Serial Number that defines each cellular phone for billing purposes and can place that information on a number of different cell phones while the owner of the original device pays the bills. Again, this system is no longer used in most countries around the world.

Many countries are now using CDMA, or Code Division Multiple Access. This type of system is known as 2nd generation (2G) technology and is based on a digital standard. A CMDA system spreads the transmissions of a particular cell phone call across a wide number of frequencies by using an assigned code that is given to each user.

If a signal is described as being digital, it means that the sound waves, radio waves, and other data in a transmission are translated into a computer binary code, a language that the computers that are involved in making the cell phone call can easily understand. This method requires much less computer power than the AMPS systems, and the cell phone calls themselves are much sharper and clearer. A type of this 2nd generation mobile service is a Global System for Mobile communications (GSM), which is a European system that is widely used in many countries overseas.

Lastly, there is 3rd generation (3G) technology that is known as WCDMA, which stands for Wideband Code Division Multiple Access. This system uses wideband digital radio communications that allows the transmission the Internet, multimedia features, videos, and a variety of other applications that demand more computer capacity. Though these 3rd generation systems are fast becoming the systems of choice for many cell phone service providers in the Untied States, many foreign countries do not provide availability to them as of yet.

Knowing the terminology that describes cellular phone operations can help you to determine if your cell phone will function in another country. You can check with the cell phone providers that are located in the country that you are planning to visit or find any information that you may need via the Internet.
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You just got a new cell phone or you want to personalize your current cell phone visit this article on cell phone accessories.
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