Best Cell Phone Plans

The Cell Approach

Cool Facts

  • Most newer digital cellular phones have some sort of entertainment programs on them, ranging from simple dice-throwing games to memory and logic puzzles.
  • Approximately 20 percent of American teens (more girls than boys) own a cellular phone.
  • Cellular phones are more popular in European and Asian countries than they are in the United States — more than 90 percent of Europeans or Asians own a cell phone, compared to about 50 percent of Americans.

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!

In the dark ages before cell phones, people who really needed mobile-communications ability installed radio telephones in their cars. In the radio-telephone system, there was one central antenna tower per city, and perhaps 25 channels available on that tower. This central antenna meant that the phone in your car needed a powerful transmitter — big enough to transmit 40 or 50 miles (about 70 km). It also meant that not many people could use radio telephones — there just were not enough channels.

The genius of the cellular system is the division of a city into small cells. This allows extensive frequency reuse across a city, so that millions of people can use cell phones simultaneously. In the next section, we’ll look closer at these cells.


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