Tuesday, March 24, 2009

"Can you hear me now?" NO! and heres why

Cellphones are very popular and they come in many shapes and sizes. Some are very expensive while others are cheap. So the more expensive cell with all the bells and whistles must be better than the $10.00 phone right. There are many different providers of service too. You see commercials about them all the time. When was the last time you say an Ad about Tracfones? Yes those pay as you go phones you see hanging on the racks along side the reload minute cards. Cheap and not very stylish looking. Well let me tell you a little story about what cheap does for you.

I love to go to my favorite Ghost town. This place is in the middle of now where. The nearest town is 60 miles away and when I say town I am talking population of around 3000. There are no cellphone towers anywhere near this place and it is located in a bowl shaped valley.

When we go to this place we go in style in a Large motor home. Very lavish (not mine), anyway on the first morning of our stay there we woke up to NO COFFEE anywhere we looked in the RV. Now I know this is not an emergency but it could have been a 911 event instead. My point is that My father tried to call home to ask where some coffee might be and his Verizon Phone was Useless. I had a cheap little Tracfone that I paid $9.99 on sale and so I said let me try. I dialed the number and got the home answering machine. Leaving a message I hung up. I was surprised I got through on my little bargain. I tried later and got through again still no one home. But the whole point is that it worked!

Here is the reason why. I later found out the my Tracfone had 3 different types of transmission frequencies. Think of it as 3 different channels it can operate on (simplified of course). So my phone was a tri-band phone. The reason I was told that my little phone had Tri-band capability was that since it was not a big name brand phone the Tracfone people made it so it would work on all available networks. The band that made my call possible was an ANALOG band called FDMA, Frequency Division Multiple Access. This type of band works like a radio station and works on a wide bandwidth. Just think of it as a radio with a freq. scanner that finds a station that it can tune in(simple again). That is what my little phone did. It found a station it could call out from by scanning for it. It scanned a 45MHZ bandwidth range looking for someplace to connect to.

Verizon and the other major cellphone companies do not use Analog signals in their Network so no connection is possible in the middle of no where.

The other types of transmission technologies used are, TDMA, Time Division Multiple Access and CMDA, Code Division Multiple Access. Both of these are DIGITAL transmission type frequencies for DIGITAL phones.

Here is a break down of these terms from http://www.howstuffworks.com/cell-phone7.htm .

The first word tells you what the access method is. The second word, division, lets you know that it splits calls based on that access method.
FDMA puts each call on a separate frequency.
TDMA assigns each call a certain portion of time on a designated frequency.
CDMA gives a unique code to each call and
spreads it over the available frequencies. The last part of each name is multiple access. This simply means that more than one user can utilize each cell.

The last two types are digital only. Now I am sure that there are other phones out there that have Analog capabilities but I know for sure that Tracfones KYOCERA has it. It is the cheap looking old style phone. I will put an image up for you.

The whole point of this post is to give you an advantage when you need it most. If the event I described had been a 911 type emergency we would have been up the creek without a paddle.

So the next time you are out shopping buy one of these cheap phones and put in your car just in case. The $9 or so cost may save a life.

Even if you do not buy one of these find out if your current provider has a Tri-Band phone.

I am sure many of you out there are aware of this but a repeat of info is not a waste of time for those who do not have the knowledge.

By the way there was no real coffee in the RV just DECAF. I did find some tea for a caffeine fix.


  1. Thanks Mark, this is a great post, I never knew any of this stuff. If I flip it opens and can talk, I'm happy. The wife, of course, is Queen of Cells, texting and doing all magical things which I'm either too stupid or too lazy to learn. ;-)

  2. Hello CoyotePrime, Thanks for stopping in. I figured most folks use cellphones but do not know the specifics. I think this type of phone even if just used in emergencies is worth the $10.00 and an activation card if it saves a life someday. Thanks again for checking my site out. Mark