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by Marshall Brain, Jeff Tyson and Julia Layton
Inside this Article
1. Introduction to How Cell Phones Work 2. Cell-phone Frequencies 3. Cell-phone Channels 4. Cell-phone Codes 5. Analog Cell Phones 6. Along Comes Digital 7. See more »
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Introduction to How Cell Phones Work Millions of people in the United States and around the world use cellular phones. They are such great gadgets -- with a cell phone, you can talk to anyone on the planet from just about anywhere! These days, cell phones provide an incredible array of functions, and new ones are being added at a breakneck pace. Depending on the cell-phone model, you can: Cell Phone Image Gallery
Cell Phone Quiz How Cell-phone Radiation Works HowStuffWorks Forums: Do you ever use your cell phone just to talk anymore? PlanetGreen.com: Cell Phone Radiation Safety MP3 players and GPS receivers
Store contact information Make task or to-do lists Keep track of appointments and set reminders Use the built-in calculator for simple math Send or receive e-mail Get information (news, entertainment, stock quotes) from the Internet Play games Watch TV Send text messages Integrate other devices such as PDAs,
The internal display of the Nokia 6555 has more colors than you can actually see at once. See more cell phone pictures.
But have you ever wondered how a cell phone works? What makes it different from a regular phone? What do all those terms like PCS, GSM, CDMA and TDMA mean? In this article, we will discuss the technology behind cell phones so that you can see how amazing they really are. If you are thinking about buying a cell phone, be sure to check out How Buying a Cell Phone Works to learn what you should know before making a purchase. To start with, one of the most interesting things about a cell phone is that it is actually a radio -- an extremely sophisticated radio, but a radio nonetheless. The telephone was invented by Alexander Graham Bell in 1876, and wireless communication can trace its roots to the invention of the radio by Nikolai Tesla in the 1880s (formally presented in 1894 by a young Italian named Guglielmo Marconi). It was only natural that these two great technologies would eventually be combined.
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so only one person can talk at a time. In the radio-telephone system. Only one 3 of 20 5/24/2011 6:51 PM .howstuffworks. This allows extensive frequency reuse across a city..PrintWhatYouLike on HowStuffWorks "How Cell Phones Work" http://www. because it has much higher power. both transmitters use the same frequency. people who really needed mobile-communications ability installed radio telephones in their cars.c. separate frequency for listening.com/print?url=http://www. and a CB radio has 40 channels.6 km) using a 0. A typical cell phone can communicate on 1. and they can switch cells as they move around.printwhatyoulike. A cell phone is a full-duplex device. two people communicating on a CB radio use the same frequency. It also meant that not many people could use radio telephones -. and perhaps 25 channels available on that tower.25-watt transmitter. A CB radio. The genius of the cellular system is the division of a city into small cells. A good way to understand the sophistication of a cell phone is to compare it to a CB radio or a walkie-talkie. Someone using a cell phone can drive hundreds of miles and maintain a conversation the entire time because of the cellular approach.big enough to transmit 40 or 50 miles (about 70 km). Both people on the call can talk at once. Channels . there was one central antenna tower per city.A walkie-talkie can transmit about 1 mile (1. half-duplex .A walkie-talkie typically has one channel. In half-duplex radio. Full-duplex vs. Cells give cell phones incredible range. Cell-phone Frequencies In the dark ages before cell phones.there just were not enough channels. This central antenna meant that the phone in your car needed a powerful transmitter -. Cell phones operate within cells. That is.664 channels or more! Range . so that millions of people can use cell phones simultaneously..Both walkie-talkies and CB radios are half-duplex devices. That means that you use one frequency for talking and a second. can transmit about 5 miles (8 km) using a 5-watt transmitter.
In full-duplex radio. let's examine the "cells" that make up a cellular system. Cell-phone Channels A single cell in an analog cell-phone system uses one-seventh of the available duplex voice channels. so both parties can talk at the same time. Cells are normally thought of as hexagons on a big hexagonal grid. the same frequencies can be reused in non-adjacent cells. We'll get into base stations later.com/print?url=http://www. First.howstuffworks.printwhatyoulike. In a typical analog cell-phone system in the United States. the cell-phone carrier receives about 800 frequencies to use across the city.c.PrintWhatYouLike on HowStuffWorks "How Cell Phones Work" http://www. the two transmitters use different frequencies. Each cell is typically sized at about 10 square miles (26 square kilometers). Each cell has a base station that consists of a tower and a small building containing the radio equipment. Cell phones are full-duplex.. The carrier chops up the city into cells. The two purple cells can reuse the same frequencies. each cell (of the seven on a hexagonal grid) is using one-seventh of the available channels so it has a unique set of frequencies and there are no collisions: A cell-phone carrier typically gets 832 radio frequencies to use in a city. party can talk at a time. That is. like this: Because cell phones and base stations use low-power transmitters. 4 of 20 5/24/2011 6:51 PM ..
This hand off switches your phone to the new cell. the number of available channels increases. The cellular approach requires a large number of base stations in a city of any size.) Therefore. it listens for an SID (see sidebar) on the control channel. The base station is also transmitting at low power. Many cell phones have two signal strengths: 0. Each carrier in each city also runs one central office called the Mobile Telephone Switching Office (MTSO). Low power means small batteries. costs remain low per user. in any cell.printwhatyoulike. and it tries to find you. the phone compares it to the SID programmed into the phone. If the phone cannot find any control channels to listen to.a duplex channel -.PrintWhatYouLike on HowStuffWorks "How Cell Phones Work" http://www.howstuffworks. and the MTSO keeps track of your phone's location in a database -. most CB radios transmit at 4 watts). A typical large city can have hundreds of towers. Low-power transmitters have two advantages: The transmissions of a base station and the phones within its cell do not make it very far outside that cell. But because so many people are using cell phones. In other words. so each cell has about 168 channels available. Cell phones have low-power transmitters in them. Meanwhile.this way.a unique 5-digit number that is assigned to each carrier by the FCC While the ESN is considered a permanent part of the phone. and at some point. The MTSO communicates with your phone over the control channel to tell it which frequencies to use. not just its own one-seventh) sees your phone's signal strength increasing. The power consumption of the cell phone. and once your phone and the tower switch on those frequencies. The two base stations coordinate with each other through the MTSO.a 10-digit number derived from your phone's number System Identification Code (SID) . Along with the SID. Let's say you have a cell phone.c. is relatively low. which is normally battery-operated. each cell has about 56 voice channels available. If the SIDs match. Therefore. The MTSO gets the call. Cell-phone Codes All cell phones have special codes associated with them. The control channel is a special frequency that the phone and base station use to talk to one another about things like call set-up and channel changing. or 1G. The MTSO picks a frequency pair that your phone will use in that cell to take the call. the phone also transmits a registration request. the call is connected.6 watts and 3 watts (for comparison. in the figure above. When it receives the SID.so there are typically 395 voice channels per carrier. Each cell phone uses two frequencies per call -. it knows it is out of range and displays a "no service" message. The same frequencies can be reused extensively across the city. your phone gets a signal on a control channel telling it to change frequencies.a unique 32-bit number programmed into the phone when it is manufactured Mobile Identification Number (MIN) . your cell's base station notes that your signal strength is diminishing. both the MIN and SID codes are programmed into the phone when you purchase a service plan and have the phone activated. It looks in its database to see which cell you are in. As you move toward the edge of your cell. the MTSO knows which cell you are in when it wants to ring your phone. and controls all of the base stations in the region. Now. the base station in the cell you are moving toward (which is listening and measuring signal strength on all frequencies. the phone knows that the cell it is communicating with is part of its home system. Cell Phone Codes Electronic Serial Number (ESN) . (The other 42 frequencies are used for control channels -. Here is what happens to the call: When you first power up the phone..more on this later. This office handles all of the phone connections to the normal land-based phone system. the phone's owner and the service provider. 56 people can be talking on their cell phone at one time. Analog cellular systems are considered first-generation mobile technology.. 5 of 20 5/24/2011 6:51 PM . a TDMA-based digital system (more on TDMA later) can carry three times as many calls as an analog system. you turn it on and someone tries to call you. These codes are used to identify the phone. For example. and this is what has made handheld cellular phones possible. you are talking by two-way radio to a friend.com/print?url=http://www. both of the purple cells can reuse the same 56 frequencies. With digital transmission methods (2G).
Analog systems do not fully utilize the signal between the phone and the cellular network -. a fancy way of saying the local phone company. you'll need a phone that will work both at home and abroad. then the phone knows it is roaming. AMPS and NAMPS only operate in the 800-MHz band and do not offer many of the features common in digital cellular service. The MTSO of the cell that you are roaming in contacts the MTSO of your home system. On most phones. The less amazing thing is that you may be charged insane rates for your roaming call.howstuffworks. If not. known as A and B carriers. not yours. it is still considered analog. Even though it uses digital technology. it'll actually be handed off to the other service provider.but the cell you move into is covered by another service provider. In order to encourage competition and keep prices low. you'd better study your coverage maps carefully -. And the amazing thing is that all of this happens within seconds. A pair of frequencies (one for transmit and one for receive) is used to create one channel. Instead of dropping the call. Different countries use different cellular access technologies. Along Comes Digital Digital cell phones are the second generation (2G) of cellular technology. Carriers A and B are each assigned 832 frequencies: 790 for voice and 42 for data. One of the carriers was normally the local-exchange carrier (LEC). the word "roam" will come up on your phone's screen when you leave your provider's coverage area and enter another's.printwhatyoulike. Each carrier has 395 voice channels. A version of AMPS known as Narrowband Advanced Mobile Phone Service (NAMPS) incorporates some digital technology to allow the system to carry about three times as many calls as the original version. such as e-mail and Web browsing. Let's say you're on the phone and you move from one cell to another -. AMPS uses a range of frequencies between 824 megahertz (MHz) and 894 MHz for analog cell phones.PrintWhatYouLike on HowStuffWorks "How Cell Phones Work" http://www.analog signals cannot be compressed and manipulated as easily as a true digital signal. The frequencies used in analog voice channels are typically 30 kHz wide -.. S. Note that if you want to roam internationally. The transmit and receive frequencies of each voice channel are separated by 45 MHz to keep them from interfering with each other. If the SID on the control channel does not match the SID programmed into your phone. which then checks its database to confirm that the SID of the phone you are using is valid. the U.more than one person has been unpleasantly surprised by the cost of roaming. let's get some background on analog cell-phone technology so we can understand how the industry has developed.. This is the reason why many 6 of 20 5/24/2011 6:51 PM . as well as 21 data channels to use for housekeeping activities like registration and paging.com/print?url=http://www. which then tracks your phone as you move through its cells. Your home system verifies your phone to the local MTSO. More on those technologies later. the signal is passed from cell to cell. Analog Cell Phones In 1983. They use the same radio technology as analog phones.30 kHz was chosen as the standard size because it gives you voice quality comparable to a wired telephone. Check your service contract carefully to find out how much you're paying when you roam. the analog cell-phone standard called AMPS (Advanced Mobile Phone System) was approved by the FCC and first used in Chicago. First. government required the presence of two carriers in every market.c. but they use it in a different way. As you travel.
Old school: DynaTAC cell phone. 1983 The parts of a cell phone If you take a basic digital cell phone apart.c. Inc. Many digital cellular systems rely on frequency-shift keying (FSK) to send data back and forth over AMPS. compress it and convert it back again while maintaining an acceptable level of voice quality. Here is one from a typical Nokia digital phone: 7 of 20 5/24/2011 6:51 PM . It is amazing how much more efficient digital systems can be. All of this means that digital cell phones have to contain a lot of processing power. you find that it contains just a few individual parts: An amazing circuit board containing the brains of the phone An antenna A liquid crystal display (LCD) A keyboard (not unlike the one you find in a TV remote control) A microphone A speaker A battery The circuit board is the heart of the system. cell phones are some of the most intricate devices people use on a daily basis.so they can fit more channels within a given bandwidth.PrintWhatYouLike on HowStuffWorks "How Cell Phones Work" http://www... Photo courtesy Motorola. Digital phones convert your voice into binary information (1s and 0s) and then compress it (see How Analog-Digital Recording Works for details on the conversion process). Modern digital cell phones can process millions of calculations per second in order to compress and decompress the voice stream.com/print?url=http://www. one for 1s and the other for 0s.printwhatyoulike. Inside a Digital Cell Phone On a "complexity per cubic inch" scale. alternating rapidly between the two to send digital information between the cell tower and the phone. Clever modulation and encoding schemes are required to convert the analog information to digital.howstuffworks. Let's take a good look inside a digital cell phone. FSK uses two frequencies. This compression allows between three and 10 digital cell-phone calls to occupy the space of a single analog call. cable companies are switching to digital -.
The digital signal processor (DSP) is a highly customized processor designed to perform signalmanipulation calculations at high speed.howstuffworks.c. The microprocessor handles all of the housekeeping chores for the keyboard and display.PrintWhatYouLike on HowStuffWorks "How Cell Phones Work" http://www. deals with command and control signaling with the base station and also coordinates the rest of the functions on the board. The analogto-digital and digital-to-analog conversion chips translate the outgoing audio signal from analog to digital and the incoming signal from digital back to analog. you see several computer chips. The front of the circuit board The back of the circuit board In the photos above..com/print?url=http://www.printwhatyoulike.. You can learn more about A-to-D and D-to-A conversion and its importance to digital audio in How Compact Discs Work. Let's talk about what some of the individual chips do. 8 of 20 5/24/2011 6:51 PM .
Most current phones offer built-in phone directories.. The radio frequency (RF) and power section handles power management and recharging.. The display and keypad contacts The display has grown considerably in size as the number of features in cell phones have increased.printwhatyoulike. And many of the phones incorporate some type of PDA or Web browser. and also deals with the hundreds of FM channels.c.howstuffworks.com/print?url=http://www. The microprocessor The ROM and Flash memory chips provide storage for the phone's operating system and customizable features. the RF amplifiers handle signals traveling to and from the antenna.PrintWhatYouLike on HowStuffWorks "How Cell Phones Work" http://www. calculators and games. 9 of 20 5/24/2011 6:51 PM . Finally. such as the phone directory.
As you can see in the picture above. The SIM card on the circuit board The SIM card removed Some phones store certain information..PrintWhatYouLike on HowStuffWorks "How Cell Phones Work" http://www.c. in internal Flash memory. while others use external cards that are similar to SmartMedia cards. The cell-phone speaker.printwhatyoulike. such as the SID and MIN codes. microphone and battery backup Cell phones have such tiny speakers and microphones that it is incredible how well most of them reproduce sound.howstuffworks.com/print?url=http://www. the speaker is about the size of a dime and the microphone is no larger than the watch battery beside 10 of 20 5/24/2011 6:51 PM ..
What is amazing is that all of that functionality -. CDMA gives a unique code to each call and spreads it over the available frequencies. lets you know that it splits calls based on that access method. TDMA assigns each call a certain portion of time on a designated frequency. FDMA is used mainly for analog transmission..c. think of radio stations: Each station sends its signal at a different frequency within the available band. each phone uses a different frequency. it. division. To better understand FDMA. The second word. Cell Phone Network Technologies: 2G There are three common technologies used by 2G cell-phone networks for transmitting information (we'll discuss 3G technologies in the 3G section): Frequency division multiple access (FDMA) Time division multiple access (TDMA) Code division multiple access (CDMA) Although these technologies sound very intimidating. Using TDMA.7 11 of 20 5/24/2011 6:51 PM . we'll get into the cell-phone networking methods. In FDMA.howstuffworks. The last part of each name is multiple access. While it is certainly capable of carrying digital information. a narrow band that is 30 kHz wide and 6.PrintWhatYouLike on HowStuffWorks "How Cell Phones Work" http://www. This simply means that more than one user can utilize each cell. FDMA is not considered to be an efficient method for digital transmission.com/print?url=http://www.printwhatyoulike. TDMA TDMA is the access method used by the Electronics Industry Alliance and the Telecommunications Industry Association for Interim Standard 54 (IS-54) and Interim Standard 136 (IS-136). FDMA puts each call on a separate frequency.which only 30 years ago would have filled an entire floor of an office building -now fits into a package that sits comfortably in the palm of your hand! In the next section.. Speaking of the watch battery. The first word tells you what the access method is. you can get a good sense of how they work just by breaking down the title of each one. this is used by the cell phone's internal clock chip. FDMA FDMA separates the spectrum into distinct voice channels by splitting it into uniform chunks of bandwidth.
a popular system introduced by Motorola and used by Nextel. cell-phone users can buy one phone that will work anywhere where the standard is supported. some for a small fee. If you live in the United States and need to have cell-phone access when you're overseas. you can't use it with any other service provider. milliseconds long is split time-wise into three time slots. some for free. GSM systems use encryption to make phone calls more secure. GSM is the international standard in Europe. GSM implements TDMA in a somewhat different and incompatible way from IS-136. Therefore.printwhatyoulike. Unlocking Your GSM Phone Any GSM phone can work with any SIM card. You can get 900MHz/1800MHz GSM phones from Planet Omni. Australia and much of Asia and Africa. but some service providers "lock" the phone so that it will only work with their service. Each conversation gets the radio for one-third of the time. like Windows and Linux both working on an Intel Pentium III. GSM TDMA is also used as the access technology for Global System for Mobile communications (GSM). If your phone is locked. GSM operates in the 900-MHz and 1800-MHz bands in Europe and Asia and in the 850-MHz and 1900-MHz (sometimes referred to as 1. GSM users simply switch subscriber identification module (SIM) cards. You can unlock the phone using a special code -. GSM is also the basis for Integrated Digital Enhanced Network (IDEN). They offer a wide selection of Nokia. TDMA has three times the capacity of an analog system using the same number of channels.PrintWhatYouLike on HowStuffWorks "How Cell Phones Work" http://www.. Think of GSM and IS-136 as two different operating systems that work on the same processor..com/print?url=http://www. To connect to the specific service providers in these different countries. Narrow band means "channels" in the traditional sense. TDMA systems operate in either the 800-MHz (IS-54) or 1900-MHz (IS-136) frequency bands.howstuffworks. SIM cards are small removable disks that slip in and out of GSM cell phones. However. however. the 850MHz/1900-MHz GSM phones used in the United States are not compatible with the international system. You can 12 of 20 5/24/2011 6:51 PM . They don't sell international SIM cards. Unfortunately. Motorola and Ericsson GSM phones. It is used in digital cellular and PCS-based systems. TDMA splits a frequency into time slots. In covered areas. This is possible because voice data that has been converted to digital information is compressed so that it takes up significantly less transmission space. whether locally or overseas.but it's unlikely your service provider will give it to you. There are Web sites that will give you the unlock code. you can either buy a tri-band or quad-band GSM phone and use it both at home and when traveling or just buy a GSM 900MHz/1800MHz cell phone for traveling. They store all the connection data and identification numbers you need to access a particular wireless service provider.9-GHz) band in the United States.c. an online electronics firm based in California.
Each user's signal is spread over the entire bandwidth by a unique spreading code.c.com/print?url=http://www.printwhatyoulike. CDMA CDMA takes an entirely different approach from TDMA. 900-MHz.howstuffworks. high-power CDMA signals raise the noise floor for TDMA receivers.. Dual Mode If you travel a lot. CDMA is a form of spread spectrum. Multiple band/Multiple mode .In cell phones. Now let's look at the distinction between multiple-band and multiple-mode technologies.A phone that has multiple-band capability can switch frequencies. At the receiver. Because CDMA systems need to put an accurate time-stamp on each piece of a signal. and high-power TDMA signals can cause overloading and jamming of CDMA receivers. Click here to learn about network protocols for Smartphones.com.. So. CDMA. All of the users transmit in the same wide-band chunk of spectrum. a dual-band TDMA phone could use TDMA services in either an 800-MHz or a 1900-MHz system. Multiple mode . CDMA technology is the basis for Interim Standard 95 (IS-95) and operates in both the 800-MHz and 1900-MHz frequency bands. In practice. It's important that one of the modes is AMPS -. spreads it out over the entire available bandwidth.this gives you analog service if you are in an area that doesn't have digital support. In CDMA. with each assigned a unique sequence code. multiple modes or both. 2G is a cell phone network protocol. A quad-band GSM phone could use GSM service in the 850-MHz. 1800-MHz or 1900-MHz band.PrintWhatYouLike on HowStuffWorks "How Cell Phones Work" http://www. Let's take a look at each of these options: Multiple band . Between eight and 10 separate calls can be carried in the same channel space as one analog AMPS call. For example.The best of both worlds allows you to switch between frequency bands and transmission modes as needed. pick up prepaid SIM cards for a wide range of countries at Telestial. you will probably want to look for phones that offer multiple bands. "mode" refers to the type of transmission technology used. Multi-mode Cell Phones Dual Band vs. a phone that supported AMPS and TDMA could switch back and forth as needed. TDMA and CDMA are transparent to each other. Multi-band vs. Multiple calls are overlaid on each other on the channel. after digitizing data. Ideally. which simply means that data is sent in small pieces over a number of the discrete frequencies available for use at any time in the specified range. each phone's data has a unique code. it references the GPS system for this information. that same unique code is used to recover the signal. 13 of 20 5/24/2011 6:51 PM .
c. 3G stands for "third generation" -.com/print?url=http://www. It may mean that the phone supports two digital technologies. Technically. Photo courtesy Amazon. Cell-phone Network Technologies: 3G 3G Cellular vs. it will switch to 800 MHz if it cannot connect at 1900 MHz. The term "tri-mode" can be deceptive..this makes analog cellular technology generation one and digital/PCS generation two. In the next section.. but with an emphasis on personal service and extended mobility. Changing bands or modes is done automatically by phones that support these options. PCS phones use frequencies between 1. PCS Personal Communications Services (PCS) is a wireless phone service very similar to cellular phone service. PCS has 200-kHz channel spacing and eight time slots instead of the typical 30-kHz channel spacing and three time slots found in digital cellular.printwhatyoulike. 3G phones are like mini-laptops and can accommodate broadband applications like video conferencing.Wideband Code Division Multiple Access TD-SCDMA . A popular version of the tri-mode type of phone for people who do a lot of international traveling has GSM service in the 900-MHz band for Europe and Asia and the 1900-MHz band for the United States. And while it is based on TDMA.typically called smartphones -. and will try to connect at that frequency with that technology first. it will try the digital mode(s) first. Usually the phone will have a default option set. And if the phone supports more than one mode. While cellular was originally created for use in cars. PCS has smaller cells and therefore requires a larger number of antennas to cover a geographic area. You can find both dual-mode and tri-mode phones. such as CDMA and TDMA. caller ID and e-mail are bundled into the service.85 and 1. The three most common ones as of 2005 are: CDMA2000 ." but true PCS means that other services like paging. sending and receiving faxes and instantly downloading e-mail messages with attachments. it is a true tri-mode phone.and features increased bandwidth and transfer rates to accommodate Web-based applications and phone-based audio and video files. the fastest 2G phones can achieve up to 144Kbps (about 8 minutes to download a 3-minute song). The term "PCS" is often used in place of "digital cellular.com Sony Ericsson V800 3G phone technology is the latest in mobile communications. 3G technology is intended for the true multimedia cell phone -. as well as analog. If it supports dual bands. Technically. we'll take a look at 3G mobile-phone technology. and one of those modes (GSM) supports two bands.99 GHz (1850 MHz to 1990 MHz). 14 of 20 5/24/2011 6:51 PM . multimedia files. then switch to analog.based on 2G Code Division Multiple Access (see Cellular Access Technologies) WCDMA (UMTS) . PCS was designed from the ground up for greater user mobility. receiving streaming video from the Web.Time-division Synchronous Code-division Multiple Access 3G networks have potential transfer speeds of up to 3 Mbps (about 15 seconds to download a 3-minute MP3 song).PrintWhatYouLike on HowStuffWorks "How Cell Phones Work" http://www. For comparison. in addition to the analog service. 3G comprises several cellular access technologies.howstuffworks. 3G's high data rates are ideal for downloading information from the Internet and sending and receiving large. such as 1900-MHz TDMA. In that case. cellular systems in the United States operate in the 824-MHz to 894-MHz frequency bands. this is a dual-mode phone. PCS operates in the 1850-MHz to 1990-MHz bands. But it can also mean that it supports one digital technology in two bands and also offers analog support.
This cell-phone tower along I-85 near Greenville. none of this would be possible without those soaring towers that carry cell-phone signals from phone to phone. If you look at the base of the tower. you can see that each provider has its own equipment. Of course. 3G is a cell phone network protocol..com/print?url=http://www. SC.howstuffworks.. Cell-phone Towers A cell-phone tower is typically a steel pole or lattice structure that rises hundreds of feet into the air. and you can also see how little equipment is involved today (older towers often have small buildings at the base): 15 of 20 5/24/2011 6:51 PM .c.printwhatyoulike. is typical in the United States: This is a modern tower with three different cell-phone providers riding on the same structure.PrintWhatYouLike on HowStuffWorks "How Cell Phones Work" http://www. Click here to learn about network protocols for Smartphones.
.printwhatyoulike. The radios connect with the antennae on the tower through a set of thick cables: 16 of 20 5/24/2011 6:51 PM .c.PrintWhatYouLike on HowStuffWorks "How Cell Phones Work" http://www.com/print?url=http://www. Here is the equipment owned by one of the providers: The box houses the radio transmitters and receivers that let the tower communicate with the phones..howstuffworks.
.com/print?url=http://www. you will see that the tower and all of the cables and equipment at the base of the tower are heavily grounded. 17 of 20 5/24/2011 6:51 PM .howstuffworks.printwhatyoulike. the plate in this shot with the green wires bolting onto it is a solid copper grounding plate: One sure sign that multiple providers share this tower is the amazing five-way latch on the gate. For example. Any one of five people can unlock this gate to get in. If you look closely.c.PrintWhatYouLike on HowStuffWorks "How Cell Phones Work" http://www..
Cell-phone towers come in all shapes and sizes.com/print?url=http://www. non-repairable internal corrosion of parts results if you get the phone wet or use wet hands to push the buttons. If the phone does get wet.c.printwhatyoulike. Analog cell phones suffer from a problem known as "cloning. In the next section. cell phones come with their share of problems. Consider a protective case. Problems with Cell Phones A cell phone. has its problems: Generally.PrintWhatYouLike on HowStuffWorks "How Cell Phones Work" http://www. Extreme cold may cause a momentary loss of the screen display. is one of the weirdest looking. That is one tall. ugly tree! Like all consumer electronics." A phone is "cloned" when someone steals its ID 18 of 20 5/24/2011 6:51 PM . Extreme heat in a car can damage the battery or the cell-phone electronics.. we'll take a look at some of the issues facing cell phones. be sure it is totally dry before you switch it on so you can try to avoid damaging internal parts.howstuffworks. North Carolina.. but I do believe this one in Morrisville. like any other electronic device.
this is how the phone company knows who to bill for the call.thetravelinsider. The MIN/ESN pair is a unique tag for your phone -.thetravelinsider.info/2002/1101.info/roadwarriorcontent/nokiaunlocking. which allows the nefarious individual to make calls on your account.. it is fairly easy to modify another phone so that it contains your MIN/ESN pair.com/print?url=http://www. check out the links on the next page and be sure to read How Buying a Cell Phone Works for loads of helpful consumer tips. numbers and is able to make fraudulent calls on the owner's account.howstuffworks.PrintWhatYouLike on HowStuffWorks "How Cell Phones Work" http://www.oreillynet.printwhatyoulike. Here is how cloning occurs: When your phone makes a call. For more information about cell phones and related topics.c.com/html/about_3g/what_is_3g.thetravelinsider.htm The Travel Insider: Dual. Tri.com/pub/wlg/3935 The Travel Insider: Global Roaming http://www.htm Next Page 19 of 20 5/24/2011 6:51 PM . Lots More Information Related HowStuffWorks Articles How Buying a Cell Phone Works How the iPhone Works How Smartphones Work Cell Phone Quiz How TV Phones Work How Radio Works How Microprocessors Work How Telephones Work More Great Links Cell Phone Reviews and Stuff Guide 3G Newsroom: What is 3G? Cellular Telephone Basics Digital Wireless Basics The Travel Insider: Global Roaming Wireless Communications Glossary Sources 3G Newsroom: What is 3G? http://www. or Quad Band GSM Phone? http://www.info/roadwarriorcontent/quadbandphones.3gnewsroom. When your phone transmits its MIN/ESN pair..shtml O'Reilly: Unlocking Your Nokia Phone http://www.htm The Travel Insider: Unlock Your Cell Phone http://www. it is possible for nefarious sorts to listen (with a scanner) and capture the pair. it transmits the ESN and MIN to the network at the beginning of the call. With the right equipment.
to buy one! Find out how cordless phones work and how to buy the right one. Cell-phone Codes 5.it seems like you need a Ph.PrintWhatYouLike on HowStuffWorks "How Cell Phones Work" http://www.printwhatyoulike.com/print?url=http://www. Cell Phone Network Technologies: 2G 9. Lots More Information 14.. Cell-phone Towers 12. but lately they're a lot more sophisticated -.howstuffworks. Problems with Cell Phones 13. Along Comes Digital 7.D. Access to this web page is restricted at this time.. Introduction to How Cell Phones Work 2. Cell-phone Channels 4. Why am I not allowed to use my cell phone in airplanes or hospitals? You're probably well-aware of the restrictions related to cell phone and laptop use on airplanes. Analog Cell Phones 6. Inside this Article 1. Cell-phone Frequencies 3. See all Cell Phones articles YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE How Cordless Telephones Work Cordless phones have been around for about 20 years. Multi-mode Cell Phones 10.c. Inside a Digital Cell Phone 8. But do you know exactly why they're in place? Popular Articles How Two-line Phones Work How Dock-N-Talk Works Which cell phone should I buy for my grandmother? 20 of 20 5/24/2011 6:51 PM . Cell-phone Network Technologies: 3G 11. Multi-band vs.
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