An access fee is one that local
telephone companies charge that allows you to connect to their networks from your cellular phone.
Airtime is how long you spend
actually talking on your phone, regardless of whether you place the call or other parties call you.
You might pay for airtime even when you get a busy signal or the number you're calling rings but
no one picks up, depending on your cellular contract.
Most cell phones use analog
technology, which carries your call along low-energy FM radio waves to transmit your call to the
nearest radio antenna. Analog networks exist over the entire United States, and although less crisp
than digital technology, analog calls can be placed anywhere in the country. It currently is the most
popular form of cellular service.
The length of time your
battery stays charged while your phone is turned on. See "standby time" and "talk time."
Some service providers offer
blocking, which means if you dial out and don't want your number displayed on caller ID systems, you
can block your number to maintain your privacy. This service usually is free.
If you are expecting a
call or calls but won't be near your phone, your service provider can forward calls from your cell
phone to a predetermined number for a service fee.
This service is available only
with digital phones, but lets you see who is calling before you choose to answer your phone.
A light on your phone that
indicates that someone tried to call.
Call waiting works just as it
does on conventional phones. If you are on a call and someone tries to call in, you will hear a beep
or series of beeps to let you know someone is trying to get through. You then have the option of
putting the first person on hold while you take the second call. There is a fee for this service.
Car kits are kits, sold
by cell phone manufacturers, that include hands-free equipment such as headsets, microphones, and
other cables to help you drive more safely while you talk or use other modes of communication,
such as e-mail or fax.
Geographic areas are
divided into "cells"; as you move from cell to cell, your call is handed off to the next cell by
sophisticated MTSO equipment (see below). This happens so quickly and discreetly that cell phone
users rarely know when their call is being handed off.
CDMA stands for code division
multiple access. CDMA is a digital wireless technology that allows for greater security, less
background noise, and softer handoffs.
Most major service
providers can accommodate up to three parties on the same call. Watch out, though. In most cases,
airtime charges apply to each party on the call.
A coverage area is the
geographic area where your service provider can provide analog or digital service. This service is
available at fixed rates. Once you leave your coverage area you are "roaming," and all calls are
subject to additional costs.
Digital service is on the
rise in the United States. Digital transmissions are more efficient than analog transmissions and
provide better sound and privacy while allowing for more options. The downside of digital is that
it's a relatively new technology, and whereas analog service is established throughout the country,
there are large areas where digital service is not established. Many customers who want the quality
of digital but the reliability of analog are buying dual-mode phones, which switch back and forth
between digital and analog technology.
Dual mode phones:
These phones are popular
currently because they switch back and forth between digital and analog, depending on what kind of
service is available in your calling area.
To encrypt is to scramble a signal
so it can't be read or heard by an unintended party.
This well-known term stands for
electronic mail, and now can be used with digital cellular phones.
Federal Communications Commission
is responsible for regulating telecommunications. It was established in 1934 to
create policies governing interstate and international communications by television, radio, wire,
satellite, and cable.
The Global Positioning System is a
U.S. Defense Department system that allows us to navigate, even from our cars. It is increasingly a
feature in luxury and many rental automobiles.
Hands-free phones allow you to
talk without holding the phone. This is popular with many mobile phones and is coming back into vogue
as a safety feature, as it allows you to keep both hands on the wheel when you drive.
A mobile phone refers to a
phone secured in your car. Mobile phones have better range than portable phones and have antennae
that attach to the rear windshield.
MTSO stands for the Mobile Telephone
Switching Office. The MTSO is where the entire cellular process takes place, from the tracking of
cellular-equipped vehicles, arranging handoffs, keeping track of airtime, and so on. The MTSO uses
sophisticated computer systems to track cellular systems.
Cellular paging is just like
regular paging. With cellular paging, available on digital phones, you can send and receive
Peak and off peak time
refers to the time of day you use your cellular phone. Most plans list peak time as business hours
(as do conventional telephone companies) and charge more during those hours. Check with your service
company to compare peak and off peak rates.
A portable phone is a
small, hand-held phone you can carry in your purse or briefcase, or, with smaller models, in your
shirt pocket. They have the least amount of battery life among mobile, portable, and transportable
Some wireless companies
offer prepaid plans that allow you to buy airtime in advance. This is especially good for those who
want to stick to a budget, like students, or who have credit issues that might prevent them from
getting regular service.
When you leave your service
provider's coverage area, you are roaming. Extra fees apply.
A payment plan you agree to
with your service provider that dictates the amount of airtime you have at a given price.
Also known as memory dial,
speed dial allows you to program frequently called numbers into your phone so you can access
those numbers by pressing just one or two buttons in sequence.
Standby time is how long your
battery will stay charged if you leave your phone turned on (allowing calls to come in), as opposed
to how long it will stay charged when you are talking. Standby time uses less battery power than talk
Talk time is how long your
battery stays charged while you talk on your phone.
This new feature
is only available on digital phones; it allows you to dial by calling out numbers aloud instead of
pressing them on your keypad. This is a safer option than dialing while driving.
Voice mail allows callers to
leave a message if you can't or choose not to answer your phone. Most cell phone service plans now
offer this feature.
Wireless data communication:
phones now allow you to send and receive e-mails, browse the Internet, and complete other office
tasks, wirelessly. Pretty amazing, if we do say so ourselves!