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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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What do the little boxes that the phone company has around our neighborhood do?

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.

How does a vibrating cell phone or pager work?

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

What do the yellow and black wires in a home telephone jack do?

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

How do digital answering machines work?

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

Why am I not allowed to use my cell phone in airplanes or hospitals?

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?

Is it possible to detect if someone is illegally using my phone line?

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.

What is the difference between analog and digital cell phones?

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."

What does 900 MHz mean in a cordless phone?

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?

What is digital spread spectrum as used in cordless telephones?

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.

Why does the phone still work when the electricity goes out?

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?

How does a long-distance call work?

When you make a long-distance call, there is an amazing amount of technology working to make your call happen. To understand the computerized systems used today, it's helpful to go back in time and look at how long-distance calls were first routed.

How Telephones Work

Telephones are one of the greatest technological advances of our time. Do you know how your call gets to its destination? Learn all about how the telephone works in this article.

Inside a Cell Phone

On a "complexity per cubic inch" scale, cell phones are some of the most intricate devices people play with on a daily basis. Take a look inside a cell phone.

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