Analog and Digital Networks

Analog vs Digital Cellular Phones

Analog andDigital Cell Phones

Cellular phones are basically duplex radios that operate using either analog or digital signals. Analog phones has been around the longest and has the widest coverage. Analog phones operate in smaller cities and rural areas where digital service is not yet available. Certain phones will work only with certain service providers in certain parts of the country. That's why when you choose a cell phone, you're really choosing between digital and analog service.

Analog and digital phones operate on opposite ends of the radio wave spectrum, making neither type of phone compatible with the other's calling network.(Except Dual mode phones, work with both analog and digital networks). Presently you have several digital standards to choose from including PCS, GSM, CDMA and TDMA.

Some providers offer both analog and digital service to provide a wider coverage area. You can use both if you buy a dual mode phone. These phones can switch from digital to analog on the fly if the digital signal is dropped. This means that you don't have to worry about losing important calls if you're traveling through an area with gaps in digital coverage, and you can still use the Web.


Digital phones, however, are usually more expensive and are not usually included with "free phone" deals.

Digital Technology

One thing all digital phones have in common, however, is efficiency. That's because digital technology separates spectrums into even smaller bands and lets different conversations use the same bandwidth on a time share basis. As a result, digital technology can pack multiple phone conversations into the same bandwidth gobbled up by one analog cell phone.

Digital Advantage

The real advantage of digital phones is that they send and receive data as easily as they do voice signals. This allows digital providers to offer services such as caller ID, paging, text messaging, and faxing. And because digital transmissions are faster than analog, digital technology is ideal for tapping into the Internet.

Currently, analog has only two advantages over digital. First, its existing network of cells is more wide spread, and the similarity of all analog signal means that wherever you roam, you'll be able to use your cell phone with the local provider's network. The second is that an analog signal, although it may be faint and full of static, can make itself heard even when it is weak. A digital signal fails to work at all in such situations giving you dropped calls. This makes analog better if you travel off in the rural counties. But even this is changing as digital wireless carriers continue to expand their coverage. Dual mode phones provide a nice way to get the best of both worlds.

Why Digital?

Many nationwide wireless service providers have a digital network in place or are at least in the process of trying to convert their cellular network to a digital network. The reason is digital presents many advantages over cellular, say proponents. The main benefits of digital include better quality of service, more security for the customer, and the ability to support next-generation services. Operators are looking to digital technology to help enable the latest services like wireless Internet applications.

Most countries have some form of wireless telephone service. The digital networks used to provide this service can differ from country to country, with GSM (Global System for Mobiles) being the one commonly available in Europe. To be able to place a call while you are outside the United States, you must have a digital cellular phone that is designed for use on the network in the country where you will be traveling.



The decision of whether to go with a digital or an analog cellular really depends on you.

Digital services offers a number of advantages over analog cellular technologies, including greater data throughput, greater reliability and better clarity. If you must have phone that will work anywhere, consider an analog or a dual mode model.

September 19, 4:28 pm

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