TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: When is TDMA Being Phased Out?

Re: When is TDMA Being Phased Out?

Jim Burks (
Sat, 03 Dec 2005 13:45:14 GMT

<> wrote in message

> Thanks for your information! Some more questions if I may.

> Jim Burks wrote:

>> New handsets now are
>> either GSM only or CDMA only. The are also frequently locked to a
>> single carrier. The better GSM handsets are tri-band or quad-band
>> (more frequencies). This will allow them to roam in many parts of the
>> world.

> Does this mean a cell phone bought today won't have analog capability
> as a backup if the digital signal isn't available?

Unless the phone is analog/GSM or analog/CDMA, it won't have any
analog capability as backup. On the other hand, analog is being phased
out sometime before 2010. Right now, the FCC requires

> When buying a cell phone, how can one tell what the handset can do?
> The clerks at cell phone kiosks will say anything to get a sale.

Pick your phone (or at least narrow the models) BEFORE going to the
store. Go to the Nokia, Motorola, LG and Samsung websites and pick
out what features are important to you. Then determine what models
have those features. The websites tell you what carrier has those
phones. Then, go to the carrier store. If they don't have the handset
you want, ASK. If the Nokia site says Cingular carries the 6xxx
handset you want, and the store guys act ignorant, call the 800#. They
frequently have more phones in stock at the central depots than the

I invested in a high-end Smartphone (Symbian OS, camera, GSM,
Bluetooth, EDGE) because I plan to use the same carrier for three
years and the same phone. I've been very happy with it - but I've
never seen it in a store and none of the clerks know what Symbian is.

But, I can use it with a headset or my car kit, it has every contact I
might ever need in it, stores a bunch of pictures, downloaded games
(Solitare) and, best of all, I can use as a digital modem for the PC
at about 56k (using EDGE GPRS data service) without a cable, as the PC
is Bluetooth.

On the other hand, at the time (a year ago) it cost me $199 where I
could get a simple handset for free.

In the US markets, the handset makers are slaves to the carriers,
since they subsidize the handset to the tune of $100-200 each, and
require a 1-2 year contract. In the UK and Europe, people go to Nokia
stores, buy handsets and then get service from someone.

>> If you live in a big city, Sprint and T-Mobile are a little cheaper,
>> but if you travel out of the cities and off the freeways, you're out
>> of luck.

> What happens -- the phone is dead? That doesn't sound good.

Yes, the phone is, for all intents and purposes DEAD. When you get no
bars of signal, you can't make a call. Cellular is NOT a 'cover the
US' technology. Neither are SkyTel 2-way. If you must have coverage
EVERYWHERE, get a satellite phone (, but they are
horribly expensive for everyday use.

>> If you live in the wilds of Montana or Arizona, look on eBay for a 3
>> watt analog bag phone. They have MILES more range.
>> AMPS = all right now, going away before 2010

> It seems the main carriers, at least in my area, will not accept a new
> customer with a bag phone or any analog phone. There have been news
> reports that people in remote areas can only get service with the high
> powered bag phone and they're having problems as carriers phase out
> analog. What will happen in those areas?

Some of those areas will be out of luck as analog is removed. But, just
because carriers won't activate a new analog-only phone doesn't mean it
can't be used.

One of the little secrets that the cellular carriers DON'T tell you is
that an unactivated phone can ALWAYS dial 911. If you're looking for
pure emergency service, get one and leave it in your car trunk (with
the cigarette lighter adapter, as the battery will be run down). Get
it out and plug it in when you need help. The same goes for a old
digital handset, except for range (remember the car cord)! The
carriers don't tell you this, as some percentage of their paid market
is for emergency use only, and if they publicized that, it would go

> There were many news reports that digital signals had lots more "dark
> spots" than analog signals did, even in well developed areas (or
> because of well developed areas). Public safety new digital radio
> systems had lots of complaints, cops were carrying their own
> cellphones in case their police radio failed them. Have these
> problems been resolved?

> I was on a train recently and my fellow passengers lost service in a
> particular area, but my old analog phone was still working.

As John points out, most of this is due to the 850 vs. 1900 mhz
difference. All non-bag/non-car handsets have the same 600mw
output. No one ever (to my knowledge) built a 3w transmitter to hold
against your head.

Why are they phasing out analog?

Spectrum usage: they can support more users on a tower, or on a group
of frequencies using GSM or CDMA than they can with AMPS. Remember
that the frequency auction for the 1900mhz PCS space raised $Billions
for the US Government (selling what is already public). That's another
reason the FCC is pushing for digital TV. They are going to reclaim
some of the UHF spectrum, once the conversion is mandatory and
complete, and auction it off for big $$.

Fraud: it's much easier to clone an AMPS phone than a GSM or CDMA
one. It's also harder for them to figure out it's been cloned. The
only thing that's saving their bacon is that fewer and fewer calls are
analog, so any fraud stands out more in the pattern.

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