Basics of Cell Phone Technology
December 29, 2014
First of all I would like to apologize for not having posted in quite a while. Unfortunately my day job got very busy and I simply did not have the time to dedicate to writing decent content. I simply do not believe that writing an article just for the sake of it and I like to make sure I get everything fully researched before I post anything. So, it basically took a while and for me to find the time since I last posted about a VoIP system I was involved in setting up.
Anyway, back to cell phone technology. In essence, a cell phone is very similar to a radio and at its core it functions exactly like a ham radio, by sending and receiving radio frequencies that at each end are converted into sound. In many ways it surprises me that reliable cell phone technology took so long to become available to the masses. Wired phones and radios were invented in the 19th century, but not until the 90s did we see everyone jump on this technology.
The problem with radio technology was always the distances that needed to be bridged. In order to communicate over longer distances, transmitters need to be very powerful which mean that portable devices simply aren’t that viable. What cell phone technology innovated was the segmenting of an area into cells with antennae spaced out at much smaller distances.
This means that at any given time you are not that far from a cell tower and you do not need a hugely powerful transmitter. But this opened up other problems, not least how to handle a phone that moves from one cell to another without dropping calls.
Another great innovations from this set up was that adjacent cells can have overlapping frequencies as individual phones are only connected to one cell at a time. This meant that carriers were able to take much better advantage of limited frequencies, which is essential since there are now more cell phones than people.
To cope with the movement from cell to cell, each phone has a unique and special code assigned to it which helps identify the owner, the phone and the service provider. All this identification happens in the background and all you really care about is that you have a cell connection and can make and take calls.
The main difference between CB or ham radio and cell phones is the way the communication happens. With CB radio the connection is from point to point. While for cell phones, the connection is to a tower and then towers are interlinked to provide the connection. The great advantage of this is that you can literally connect to anyone anywhere in the world and the audio quality is great.
With CB radio you are limited by your range and the further you are away from the other persion and the more obstacles are in the way the lower the audio quality is. But it is amazing how great cell technology works considering that at its core it is a simple ham radio.