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see cellular telephonecellular telephone
or cellular radio,
telecommunications system in which a portable or mobile radio transmitter and receiver, or "cellphone," is linked via microwave radio frequencies to base transmitter and receiver stations that connect the user to a conventional
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(CELLular telePHONE) The first ubiquitous wireless telephone. Originally analog, all cellular systems today are digital, which has enabled the cellphone to turn into a handheld personal computer (see smartphone and cellphones vs. smartphones). A cellphone is also called a "mobile," "mobile phone," "handset" or "cell."

Introduced in the mid-1980s, cellphone sales exploded worldwide in the 1990s. By 2008, with three billion units in use, the cellphone became an addiction for many people, who would never leave their house without it (see nomophobia). By 2012, there were more than 300 million cellphone subscriptions (including smartphones) in the U.S. Although third-world countries adopted cellphones without ever having landlines, by 2016, half the homes in the U.S. relied only on cellular technology.

Major Carriers
In the U.S., the major cellular carriers are Verizon Wireless (formerly Bell Atlantic Mobile and Alltel), AT&T Mobility (formerly Cingular), T-Mobile and Sprint (merger of Sprint and Nextel). The largest companies outside the U.S. are China Mobile, UK-based Vodafone and Nippon Telegraph & Telephone (NTT).

Cell Technology
Geographic areas are divided into a number of slightly overlapping circular "cells." Each cell contains a base station, which is identifiable by its transmitting and receiving antenna located on a tower at the top of a hill or building. The base stations connect to the landline telephone system of the country and to the Internet.

The multiple cells combined with low power transmitters allow the same frequencies to be reused with different conversations in different cells within the same city or locale. The primary digital cellphone technologies are LTE, GSM, CDMA and TDMA. See 3G, PCS, AMPS, LTE, GSM, CDMA, TDMA, WAP, feature phone, cellspace, cellular network extender, screaming cellphone and cordless phone.

The Cells
The cellular system uses multiple base stations to cover a geographic area. As the mobile phone user travels from cell to cell, the call is automatically "handed off" to the next station. The more cells, the greater number of customers can be handled at the same time, because the same frequencies are reused within each cell.

First Cellphone in U.S.
Introduced in 1983, this Motorola DynaTAC 8000X cost USD $3,995 and weighed two pounds. (Image courtesy of Motorola, Inc.)

Could They Have Imagined?
As Europeans began to use their new-fangled Ericsson phones in the late 1800s, could they have imagined today's smartphones? Photo taken at Antoni Gaudi's famous "La Pedrera" apartment house in Barcelona.

A Cellphone to Die For
This is an example of a "fantasy coffin" in the National Museum of African Art in Washington, D.C. Popularized in the mid-1950s by Ghanaian artist Kane Kwei, each custom-crafted coffin was built to illustrate an important aspect of the deceased's life.
References in periodicals archive ?
Unlike ionizing radiation such as that from gamma rays, radon and X-rays, which can break chemical bonds in the body and are known to cause cancer, radiofrequency devices such as cellphones and microwaves emit radiofrequency energy, a form of non-ionizing radiation.
This said, it needs to be noted that the cellphone revolution has brought with it both good and bad news.
Once deployed and acclimatized to a real-life correctional environment, Riley settled in and started recovering contraband cellphones during the unit's targeted search missions.
Forty-six of those businesses were operating without the required second-hand dealers license and ordered to stop selling cellphones.
This is while based on reports released in November, only 3 percent of cellphones on sale in Iranian shops are legal.
The laws not only apply to cellphones, but also to tablets, laptops, GPS units and mobile music players, as well as any other electronic device.
This is the capital,' President Duterte said, holding his cellphone.
Broadly speaking, a cellphone works like a two-way radio or "walkie-talkie," but with expanded technologies that increase transmission distance, audio quality, and the ability to maintain a conversation while in motion without having the call inadvertently terminated.
A new Android mobile app that uses targeted advertising to eliminate consumers' cellphone bills by passing those costs on to advertisers, FreeMo, is available for Android devices on Google Play and on the GetFreeMo.
Number and types of distractions on cellphones grow
Should cellphones be an exception to the common law doctrine of 'search incident to arrest'?
The CIA and the US Marshals Service, an agency of the Justice Department, developed technology to locate specific cellphones in the US through an airborne device that mimics a cellphone tower, these people said, Wall Street Journal reported.