Cellular FAQ

Listed are some of the more frequently asked questions. The cellular industry is ever changing and can be enormously complex. If we have not answered a question that you may have, please contact us for more information.

What is 1X?

What is GPRS?

What about claims that wireless phones cause headaches, fatigue and other problems?

What is Bluetooth?

Are my wireless calls secure?

How do I pick a rate plan?

Do I have to sign a contract?

I see a plan that works for me, but I already have a cell phone. Can I purchase only the rate plan?

Can I buy just a phone?

How does prepaid service differ from traditional billed service?

What is a system access fee?

What is an early cancellation fee?

What is a hands free kit?

Can I surf the Internet from my phone?

What is T9 Predictive Text?

What is the difference between Analog and Digital?

What is roaming?

Will my phone work in other parts of the world?

My battery doesn't hold a charge anymore. Why not?

 

 

What is 1X?

CDMA2000 1X claims data transfer at 86 kbps although this is at the high end. Actual results will be slower. 1X acts as your Internet Service Provider (ISP) and immediately connects you to the information you need. With the 1X network when data is not actively being transferred, your connection will become a virtual connection, freeing resources so you can receive voice calls or text messages on your cellphone. When information is sent to you, or when you are ready to begin transferring data again, the connection will automatically carry on, as if there was no service interruption. No need to dial up again. No waiting.

1X is packet-based, which means you are billed based on the volume of data sent and received.

[ top ]
What is GPRS?

The General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) is a new non-voice value added service that allows information to be sent and received across a mobile telephone network. It supplements today's Circuit Switched Data and Short Message Service. GPRS is NOT related to GPS (the Global Positioning System), a similar acronym that is often used in mobile contexts.

Theoretical maximum speeds of up to 171.2 kilobits per second (kbps) are achievable with GPRS using all eight time slots at the same time. This is about three times as fast as the data transmissions speeds possible over today's fixed telecommunications networks and ten times as fast as current Circuit Switched Data services on GSM networks. By allowing information to be transmitted more quickly, immediately and efficiently across the mobile network, GPRS may well be a relatively less costly mobile data service compared to SMS and Circuit Switched Data.

[ top ]
What about claims that wireless phones cause headaches, fatigue and other problems?

One study has been completed in Sweden and Norway to determine whether users of digital phones experience greater subjective health symptoms (headaches, dizziness, fatigue, etc.) than those using analog phones. The fundamental question raised by this study was unsupported by the data. In fact, there is nothing in the study that suggests wireless users have a greater incidence of headaches than the general population.

[ top ]
What is Bluetooth?

Bluetooth in its most basic form is cable replacement. Where cables now connect many devices, a wireless Bluetooth connection will provide low-cost wireless communications and networking between PCs mobile phones and other devices. This will enable untethered, wireless connectivity, to the Internet and other devices, anytime, anywhere. Bluetooth is based on a global radio-frequency (RF) standard, which operates on the 2.4 GHz ISM band, providing license-free operation in the United States, most of Europe and Japan.

Bluetooth technology is an important element in the wireless Internet scheme because it improves seamless Internet connectivity and information delivery.

Bluetooth wireless technology will virtually eliminate the need for business travellers to purchase or carry numerous proprietary cables by enabling one-to-one and one-to-many connections among PCs, mobile phones and other devices, such as printers and display monitors.

Bluetooth wireless technology is designed to support a data rate that provides more than enough bandwidth for the designated usage models.

Bluetooth wireless technology has raw data rate of up to 1Mbps.

A device with Bluetooth wireless technology will have the capability of exchanging information within a 10-meter (~30 feet) radius, though different devices will support variant ranges based on intended usage requirements.

[ top ]
Are my wireless calls secure?

No wireless service is perfectly secure, but the wireless industry has made significant investments to thwart eavesdroppers and phone-number thieves. Digital cellular and PCS (Personal Communications Services) transmissions require sophisticated equipment in order to listen in on calls. CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) technology is the most secure. CDMA transmission has been used by the military for secure phone calls. Analog phone signals, on the other hand, can be monitored by anyone with a radio scanner.

[ top ]
How do I pick a rate plan?

Depending on the market, each carrier may offer 20 or more plan choices to prospective customers. Plans vary in the number of minutes bundled, and the geography of the local calling area. Generally speaking, the smaller the coverage area, the more minutes you'll receive for a given monthly fee. We suggest you think about how many minutes you'll use each month in your home city, in your region of the country and then in the rest of the country. If you'll use your phone regularly for more than one hour a month in parts of the country outside your local or regional calling area, you'll likely benefit from a flat-rate plan that will not charge you roaming in those regional or national locations. If you mostly use the phone around town, we suggest a plan that includes roughly as many minutes as you think you'll use.

[ top ]
Do I have to sign a contract?

Some carriers require you to sign a contract, some don't. Often you'll get a less expensive rate if you do sign a contract. A contract assures the service provider that you'll be a longer-term customer and thus a less expensive rate may be available.

[ top ]
I see a plan that works for me, but I already have a cell phone. Can I purchase only the rate plan?

You may be able to purchase a rate plan only, but only if the handset you have uses a technology compatible with the carrier you select. Even when this is the case, some phones are "locked" by the manufacturer so that they only work on the network of the carrier who purchased the phone for resale to its customers. With advances in quality and size of the phones, and their relatively low price, you'll probably be better off getting a new phone with your service plan.

[ top ]
Can I buy just a phone?

In some instances, you may be able to purchase the phone without a service plan, but you'll be charged the full price for the phone. You should call for details regarding your particular phone-only selection.

[ top ]
How does prepaid service differ from traditional billed service?

This service allows you to buy minutes in advance of use. It is a good solution for those who want to budget their phone usage, or for customers who may have credit issues or do not feel comfortable providing information for a carrier credit check.

[ top ]
What is a system access fee?

A System Access Fee (SAF) is monthly fee charged to help cover the costs associated with the ongoing operation, maintenance and upgrading of the wireless network. The fee is not required by nor collected for the federal government or any of its agencies.

[ top ]
What is an early cancellation fee?

An Early Cancellation Fee (ECF) applies if, for any reason, your service is terminated prior to the end of the service agreement. It applies to each line in the plan that is terminated.

[ top ]
What is a hands free kit?

With a Hands-Free Kit, you can use your cell phone in your car without holding the handset. An external speaker and microphone provide you with, in effect, a speakerphone in your vehicle. Hands-Free Kits are available as mounted units, generally used with mobile units, and as portable head-set styles that can be used with hand-held units. Mounted kits are connected to the vehicle's power supply; portable kits generally use a cigarette lighter adaptor. Recent legislation has banned the use of cellular phones while driving due to 'Driver Distraction'. In some areas where this law is in place, a hands-free kit is acceptable.

[ top ]
Can I surf the Internet from my phone?

Wireless Internet access has been the buzz word throughout the Wireless Industry for years, unfortunately there are a few pitfalls along the way. The first problem is the size of the screen on most phones. In order to view any substantial amount of information it would be necessary to scroll constantly. The next issue is the bandwidth available from the network providers themselves. There is talk of 156kbs coming but at the moment it is not reality. WAP was promoted as the answer for wireless data but it has been plagued with problems and is not likely to survive. Survival of the Wireless Internet will be determined by the user wanting the applications that are useful, not just what is available. Screen size, bandwidth and speed will all make the content easier to access but only if it is worthwhile.

[ top ]
What is T9 Predictive Text?

T9 Text Input (T9 for text on 9 keys) is software that enables you to easily enter text into small devices. For wireless phones T9 enables you to take advantage of wireless communication services such as SMS (short messaging service), e-mail, Internet access, contacts, calendar, notes and more.

T9 software requires just one key press per letter, and quickly recognizes the most commonly used word of a numeric sequence.

[ top ]
What is the difference between Analog and Digital?

Analog cellular is the oldest technology used for cellular calls. It uses a band of frequencies around 800MHz. Analog transmits calls over continuously variable radio waves, similar to FM radio. Analog service is available in 90 to 95% of North America. Call quality is fair to good. Occasionally callers will experience "fast busy" signals if the network is too busy to handle the volume of calls, some static, or even dropped calls. Analog provides limited data services.

Digital cellular network standards are CDMA (code division multiple access), TDMA (time division multiple access), and GSM (global system for mobile communications), which use a band of frequencies around 800 & 1900 MHz. Voices are converted to digital 1's and 0's for transmission, then converted back to voices at the receiving end. Digital coverage is increasing across Canada and will eventually equal analog coverage. Call quality is improved over analog with less static. The network is able to increase the capacity with digital, therefore, fewer "fast busy" signals.

Digital PCS standards are CDMA, TDMA and GSM and use a band of frequencies around 1900 MHz. PCS phones that also have analog capabilities are dual-mode; PCS phones that transmit on both 800MHz and 1900 MHz are called dual-band. PCS phones that are dual-band, dual-mode, are also called tri-mode. A Digital tri-mode single band GSM phone would offer 900, 1800 & 1900 MHz. This would allow the phone to work in Europe.

Some of the advantages of digital include enhanced privacy, extended battery life, improved call clarity and enhanced features such as Caller ID, short text messaging and message waiting indicators, wireless Internet access and more.

[ top ]
What is roaming?

Roaming is the term used when you travel outside of your home area. Each carrier has different roaming options. Please look at the price plan comparison pages to see which options the carriers in your region offer.

[ top ]
Will my phone work in other parts of the world?

In most cases if you have a GSM phone it will work in Europe and Asia. The system in Europe is 900 / 1800 MHz, and this would be part of a tri-mode single band phone (the GSM system in North America is 1900 MHz). It is also possible to rent a phone to use in the country that you will be travelling to from www.roadpost.com.

[ top ]
My battery doesn't hold a charge anymore. Why not?

The most common types of batteries for cellular phones are listed below, with their various advantages and disadvantages. Regardless of the technology, most handheld and portable units will accept a "standard" or "extended" battery, which will add to the length of time the battery will power the unit.

  • NiCad - NICKEL CADMIUM
    NiCad batteries are known for the "memory effect" that they develop if repeatedly charged without being fully discharged. These batteries also self-discharge if left unused, losing 10% of their power the first 24 hours, then 1% to 2% a day thereafter. They perform best if used regularly. Chargers for NiCad batteries should have circuitry that prevents overcharging, which ruins the battery. These batteries may be considered environmentally harmful, and should be disposed of properly. The recommended charging process is a constant charge, as when sitting in a base unit or plugged into the lighter socket in a car.

  • NiMH - NICKEL METAL HYDRIDE
    This technology can provide as much as 30% more capacity than a NiCad battery of the same size. These batteries contain no toxins, and are consequently more environmentally friendly than NiCad. Unlike NiCad, deep discharging contributes to a decline in the life of the battery, as does constant over-charging. In general, NiMH technology is sensitive to overcharging These batteries should also always be rapid charged. The charger should be designed to monitor the charging process, as well as the heat of the battery.

  • Li-Ion - LITHIUM ION
    Lithium batteries deliver the best performance with lighter weight than the nickel-based batteries listed above. They develop no memory effect, and are non-toxic; but they are more expensive. Charging requires a controlled, constant voltage process, and the useful life of these batteries can be reduced up to 60% if overcharged. Use only chargers that are recommended or designed for Li-Ion batteries. Chargers made only for the nickel-based batteries should never be used to charge lithium batteries.

    It is important to use the correct charger for your battery. Chargers are usually referred to as "overnight" or "rapid". Overnight chargers will charge a battery in eight to ten hours. They provide a low charge rate, and often lack the safety features of preventing overcharging due to the fact that batteries can better withstand low charge current on a continuous basis. Rapid chargers, as the name implies, recharge batteries more quickly. The charge isn't continuous; rather, it's reduced as the battery reaches full charge. There are three types of chargers: Vehicle cigarette lighter plug-ins, desktop chargers made for indoor use and small travel chargers that simply plug in to an electrical outlet.

  • LITHIUM ION POLYMER
    This new technology is the longest lasting and most expensive battery type available today. Extremely light and compact batteries.

  • LEAD ACID
    Used commonly with transportable cellular phones, the higher power output of Lead Acid batteries is reflected in their size and weight. Lead Acid batteries should be stored fully charged; otherwise the chemical components will deteriorate rapidly. Slow charging is recommended. These batteries have the lowest number of charging cycles of all four types, and hence have a shorter life.

[ top ]