The Wireless Whiz

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What type of user are you?

What is PCS?

PCS is wireless telephone service offered in the United States at 1900 Mhz. Carriers may offer TDMA, CDMA, or GSM digital technology. PCS carriers do not offer analog service.

What is CDMA?

Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) is a digital technology that allows carriers to process more than one conversation per channel. The way that this technology separates transmissions is by using odes. A unique code is assigned to each conversation that separates it from others.

What is TDMA?

Time Division Multiple Access (TDMA) is a digital technology that allows carriers to process more than one conversation per channel. The way that this technology separates the transmissions is by breaking the conversation into packets and transmitting them in short bursts.

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What is GSM?

Global Systems for Mobile communications (GSM) is a digital technology that uses a combination of TDMA and frequency hopping to allow the carrier to service more customers than with analog technology. It is the dominant technology in Europe and also used by PCS in the United States.

What is 800 MHz?

800 MHz refers to cellular carriers in the United States that operate in the frequency range of 824 MHz to 894 MHz. 800 MHz carriers where the first to offer cellular service in 1983. 800 MHz carriers offer both analog and digital service.

What is 1900 MHz?

1900 MHz refers to PCS carriers in the United States that operate in the frequency range of 1850 MHz to 1990 MHz. Carriers who operate at this frequency don't offer analog service, only digital, using CDMA, TDMA, or GSM.

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What is Nextel?

Nextel is a wireless telephone service offered on non-cellular channels in the 800 Mhz spectrum. It uses a modified TDMA technology called iDEN for wireless telephony, two-way radio, pager, voice mail, and Internet service.

What is Roaming?

With a wireless phone, you can do something you can't do with your home phone: leave town and take your phone and your phone number with you. This is called roaming.

How does Voice Mail work?

Voice mail is like a giant "answering machine" system that is located at the carrier's switching office. You use your phone to access the voice mail system and digital phones can usually alert you that you have a message.

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What is Short Messaging Service?

Short Messaging Service (SMS), also know as text messaging, is email that you get on your wireless phone. There is a limit, however, on the number of characters per message that the phone will display, and that the system will allow.

What is Caller ID?

Caller ID is a feature that is usually included with digital phones and service. It allows you to see the number of the person calling you. If that person is in your directory, you will also see the name. This is helpful in monitoring your usage.

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What is Cloning?

Cloning is when a thief acquires your mobile phone number and ESN number, programs this info into an older phone (new phones can't be reprogrammed this way), and sells this phone, or the use of it, for a fee. Cloning is much less common with digital phones because of their encryption capabilities.

What is Automatic Call Delivery?

Automatic call delivery is a service offered by most carriers where your incoming calls are automatically delivered to your phone when you are in a market other than your home market.

What is E-9-1-1?

E-9-1-1 or Ehnhanced 9-1-1 is an improved version of 9-1-1 expecially for wireless phones. Because wireless phones move around, the 9-1-1 operator doesn't have a fixed location to use to dispatch emergency vehicles the way they do at your home or office. E-9-1-1 requires that the cell phone company transmit your phone number to the 9-1-1 operator. The cell phone company also has to provide your location with 50 to 100 meters (but not 100% of the time).

What is WLNP?

WLNP, or wireless local number portability, gives you the flexibility to keep your cell phone number if you change wireless carriers within your local market. All carriers must comply by the target date of November 24, 2003. Carriers also have the right to charge you for this privilege, and anticipated charges range from 60¢ to $1.75 depending on the carrier. Once the carriers are more comfortable with how WLNP works, you may also be able to keep a wireless number and move it to a landline, or take a landline number and more it to your cell phone.

Are you a Security User?

You are a security user if you want a phone to use only for emergencies. For this type of use, an analog phone with a plan that includes 20 minutes would be ideal. Any use exceeding the 20 minutes will be pricey, but worth it, as it will be used to deal with an emergency.

Are you a Light User?

You are a light user if you want a phone for emergency, but not always to call 9-1-1. Getting a plan that has 60 minutes a month allows you to call AAA or a family member in an emergency, and also call home on your way from work to check in.

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Are you a Medium User?

You are a medium user if you make four or five three-minute calls a day. A rate plan that includes 200 to 250 minutes per month should fare you well. Make sure you can change your plan without penalty in case your usage changes.

Are you a Heavy User?

If you are always on the go, still carry a pager, and use your wireless phone 30 to 45 minutes a day, you are a heavy user. Get a digital phone to take advantage of advanced features, and look for a rate plant that has 600 to 750 minutes per month.

Are you a Power User?

Power users, you know who you are: totally phone-dependant, spending more than an hour a day on your wireless phone. You travel nationally, so you need a plan that won't beat you up on roaming and long distance charges. Get a one-rate plan with lots of peak minutes.

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