Phones, Cell Phones & Wireless Telephony

Telecommunications devices, including cell phones, satellite radio or Voice over IP, connect us to one another and to the world of information at our fingertips. Learn all about the technologies we depend upon for efficient communication.

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With the right software or service package, a GPS phone can pinpoint your location, give directions to your destination and provide information about nearby businesses. Find out how a GPS phone works.

By Tracy V. Wilson

Although they can't do much damage at present, in the future cell-phone viruses may be as debilitating as computer viruses. How do cell-phone viruses spread? And how can you protect your phone?

By Julia Layton

Cell phones are basically handheld two-way radios. With cell-phone etiquette at an all-time low, some people are exploiting the vulnerability of the radio spectrum to silence blabbering offenders. Find out how.

By Gary Wollenhaupt

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If the clothes make the man, then the ringtone makes the phone! Find out how a cell phone produces a tune and how you can download (or even create) your own.

By Tom Harris

For years now, we've heard conflicting reports about cell-phone radiation ... and the debate goes on. Find out what the buzz is about and how to protect yourself when choosing and using a cell phone.

The phone number you dial to call somebody is basically an address, similar to the street address of your home. Have you ever wondered what all those numbers mean?

It's one of those seemingly-unexplainable lapses in logic -- Why do these two digit-based devices order their number keys in exactly opposite ways?

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Smartphones blur the line between cell phones and PDAs. Learn the details of smartphones, read cell phones and PDA reviews and see our buying guide.

By Dave Coustan, Jonathan Strickland & John Perritano

One of the most interesting things about a cell phone is that it is really a radio. What does this have to do with your cell phone?

The most useful thing to know about the Global System for Mobile communications (GSM) is that it is an international standard. If you travel in Europe and many other parts of the world, GSM is the only type of cellular service available.

Cordless phones have been around for about 20 years, but lately they're a lot more sophisticated -- it seems like you need a Ph.D. to buy one! Find out how cordless phones work and how to buy the right one.

By Craig Freudenrich, Ph.D.

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Nextel phones offer a service called Direct Connect that allows you to push a single button and connect with another Nextel user. Find out how this "walkie-talkie" feature works.

Cell phones have completely changed the way we communicate with one another. These days, they're as common as keys. But what makes them tick?

By Marshall Brain, Jeff Tyson & Julia Layton

How does caller ID work on a telephone? It turns out that the process of making the caller ID display possible is remarkably simple at your end of the line.

Over the last 20 years or so, fiber optic lines have taken over and transformed the long distance telephone industry. Optical fibers are also a huge part of making the Internet available around the world.

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If you have underground phone wiring in your neighborhood, rather than pole wiring, you will frequently see these little boxes all over your neighborhood -- one for every two or three houses or so.

I have both a pager and a cell phone that vibrate instead of ringing when I get a call. How does that work?

With all the different colored wires used in communications, what do the yellow and black wires in a home telephone jack do?

What exactly are the components of a digital answering machine? How does voice get recorded? And then, how is it played back on demand?

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You're probably well-aware of the restrictions related to cell phone and laptop use on airplanes. But do you know exactly why they're in place?

It's possible and relatively easy for someone to tap into your phone line, especially if you live in a dorm or an apartment building. It's also pretty easy to detect. Find out how to tell if your phone line is tapped.

There are two popular digital systems in the United States. One is generically known as "digital service," and the other is clearly branded as "PCS."

I've been looking at cordless phones and have noticed that this area has gotten fairly complicated! For example, what is the difference between 900 MHz and other systems?

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Digital spread spectrum (DSS) technology has its roots back in World War II and has evolved into the technology of choice for the cordless phone. Cordless phones are now truly "ready for prime-time" thanks to affordable DSS technology.

One of the relative miracles of modern times is the reliability of the phone system. The power goes out fairly often for most people, but your telephone is always working (as long as you pay the bill). Why is that?