TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: Calling All Luddites

Re: Calling All Luddites

Mark Crispin (mrc@CAC.Washington.EDU)
Thu, 4 Aug 2005 17:39:28 -0700

On Thu, 4 Aug 2005, Thomas L. Friedman wrote:

> I began thinking about this after watching the Japanese use
> cellphones and laptops to get on the Internet from speeding bullet
> trains and subways deep underground.

Yes; in select areas, cellphones work in Japanese subways and on the

The key is the phrase "select areas".

I have a domestic Japanese cell phone. I see the infamous "OUT"
(which is how many Japanese phones indicate "no service") appear
regularly while on the subway, and while on the shinkansen.

Actually, you're not supposed to be talking on the phone at all on
trains in Japan. In Japan, you're supposed to switch the phone into
"manner mode", which silences the ringer and speaker and directs all
incoming calls to voice mail.

The heavy usage of cell phones on Japanese trains that you see are
people playing games (muted!) or exchanging email messages (which only
needs intermittant connectivity). It was quite jarring to me back in
the US to encounter people engaged in loud and animated cell phone
conversations on public transportation (not to mention unmuted Game

> But the last straw was when I couldn't get cellphone service while
> visiting I.B.M.'s headquarters in Armonk, N.Y.

How about not being able to get cellphone service at a research lab at

By the way, Japan has about as many incompatible cell phone systems as
the US: PDC (TDMA-based 2G unique to Japan), cdmaOne (2G), W-CDMA
(3G), CDMA2000 1x (3G), and PHS (dual low-power public
wireless/cordless phone in Japan and a few other Asian countries).
There's no GSM in Japan. There is limited international roaming with
3G CMDA (W-CDMA, CMDA2000 1x), but not (as far as I can tell) with any
North American carriers.

-- Mark --
Science does not emerge from voting, party politics, or public debate.
Si vis pacem, para bellum.

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