The Simple Guide to Cellular Phones Technologies

Posted in 3G, Cell Phones, Guides

I’m telling you, son, we are so blessed these days! At least when it comes to the available technologies. Did you know that your grandpa was so proud of his radio telephone, which was installed in his car, and was powerful enough to broadcast phone calls on a range of 20 to 30 miles, but used to weigh a hefty 10 pounds?

Everything has changed these days; now we’ve got cell phones that are so tiny that they tend to slip through our fingers. They’ve gotten so complex, and they are able to contact anyone, anywhere in the world, as if that person was in the next room! And all that’s done despite the fact that they are using small sized batteries, which (under normal circumstances) would be unable to provide enough juice to help the phone broadcast a strong signal over a long distance on their own.

So how do cell phones work? It’s a complex process, because the technology has evolved a lot during the last few decades, but I’ll break it down for you in simple, easy to digest steps. Aren’t you excited to learn more about the way in which your smartphone works? I surely know I am, so let’s get started.

If you are the visual type, the video below will help get the things rolling. A lot! However, if you prefer text, skip the video and read on – I promise you won’t be disappointed.

At a basic level, a cell phone is a radio transmitter – yes, just like those walkie-talkies you used to play with when you were a kid. In fact, that’s how it all started: people needed to communicate even while they were away from their homes, so they have installed radio telephones in their cars. But since the number of wireless channels was limited and the technology was in its infancy, very few people were able to afford those types of phones.

A cellular phone works differently; it makes use of a virtual system that breaks down a big city into virtual, smaller cells. This way, the available frequencies can be reused over and over, serving one person in cell 1, another person in cell 3, and so on. That’s how even millions of people can use their cell phones at the same time without overloading the available channels.

Most cell phone carriers get close to 1,000 different frequencies that they can use across a given city. And each virtual city cell has an approximate size of 10 square miles.

Typically, a cell contains a radio equipment that sits at the top of a tower. In the past, each cell had the ability of serving up to 56 people, who were able to talk at the same time. This happened during the early days of the 1G technology. With 2G (the first digital version of the technology), and then with 3G, the number of people who are able to speak simultaneously using the same cell equipment has significantly increased. It is now possible for up to 168 people to use their phones in the same cell, at the same time.

Your phone is able to use that tiny battery because it only has to connect to the nearest cell tower – it doesn’t need to broadcast signal over a range of 50 miles or so! And since it uses a low power transmitter, the battery power consumption is low as well, so your smartphone can have a pocketable size.

Additionally, cell phones convert voice into binary data, which can then be compressed. This way, it is possible for up to 10 digital calls to occupy the same bandwidth that would be necessary for a single old-style (1G) analog call.

We are so proud of our lightweight phones these days, aren’t we? And yet the first portable cell phone ever weighed 2.5 pounds and had a price of $3,995 back in 1973, when it was launched on the market. That would be over $20,000 in today’s money, btw. And that phone only did the basic stuff it was built for: called other people’s phones and was able to answer calls.

Fortunately, the smartphones that we hold in our hands today are so much smarter and less expensive. They can store contact information, they can set up and keep track of various appointments, include birthday reminders, can send and receive emails, browse the Internet, allow us to play games, watch movies, communicate with other intelligent devices, and so much more.

So yes, when I say that we are blessed to live in this technology era, I really mean it. And now that you know how a modern cell phone works, I hope that you will fully agree with me on that.

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