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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." In the U.S., there are more than 20 companies offering cellphone service (see cellphone services).

In 1983, the Motorola DynaTAC was the first cellphone, which sold for USD $3,995 (see image below). In the 1990s, cellphone sales were exploding worldwide, and three billion units were in use by 2008. 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) and T-Mobile. T-Mobile absorbed Sprint in 2020, which was a merger of Sprint and Nextel in 2005. Outside the U.S., the largest companies 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.
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References in periodicals archive ?
In fact, some 60 percent of the refugees coming into Dadaab have cellphones, says Mote, whose work has involved bringing technology and information access to some of the world's most remote places as the former chief of party for the U.S.
'Minsan nababangga ka nila kasi 'di nila tinitingnan dinadaanan nila dahil sa kaka-cellphone (sometimes they bump into you because they do not pay attention while walking because of the use of cellphones),' Jona said.
Police said that when the jeepney reached an intersection, Mambiar drew a gun and shouted "ambi na inyong cellphone, pamusilon ta mo!
Virginia drivers observed in a 2018 IIHS roadside survey were 57 percent more likely to be manipulating a cellphone than drivers in a 2014 survey.
Recovered from the suspects were a caliber 9 mm pistol, a caliber .38 revolver, a motorcycle, three cellphones, and various drug paraphernalia.
Similarly in Kamoke Saddr area, Amir was deprived of Rs200,000, gold rings and cellphones at gunpoint; in Ladhewala Warriach, bandits snatched Rs160,000, a cellphone and gold ornaments from Tahir; in Alipur Chattha, three armed men entered the house of Sadaqat and looted Rs900,000, 27 tolas gold ornaments, a laptop and cellphonoes; in Ghakkar Mandi, robbers snatched Rs52,000 and cellphones from Rashid.
It found there is evidence that bathing rats in certain types of cellphone radiation for their entire lives might raise the risk of certain cancers in some of the rats.
The policy states that members of the public may use PEDs in public areas, as long as court proceedings are not disturbed, and that they should be instructed to turn off or silence their cellphones prior to entering a courtroom.
The new law, which went into effect on August 5, bans all types of cellphones, as well as tablets and smartwatches.
As a result, the administration of all educational institutions should draw up strict rules and regulations against using cellphones during lessons.
"These draft reports are bound to create a lot of concern, but in fact they won't change what I tell people: the evidence for an association between cellphones and cancer is weak, and so far, we have not seen a higher cancer risk in people," he said in a statement on Twitter.