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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 TDMA, CDMA and GSM. See 3G, PCS, AMPS, GSM, TDMA, CDMA, 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 ?
SHENZHEN, China, June 24, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- The high-profile Onemos cellphone has gotten a lot of attention lately.
IC Insights estimates cellphone IC sales grew 11% in 2014 to $70.
Since mobile phones are programmed to connect automatically to the strongest cellphone tower signal, the device -- or "dirtbox" -- used by the Marshals Service mimics this signal in order to ensure connectivity.
The Cellphone Charger Box is currently in Patent Pending status within the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
ATLANTA -- More American households are ditching their old telephones: 4 out of 10 only use cellphones, a government survey shows.
Cellphone confiscations by the Criminal Justice Department fell to 594 in 2013 - a five-year low - from 738 the previous year.
Velasco filed House Bill 4511, to be known as Kill-switch Phone Security Act of 2014, to address the growing incidence of breaches in security and privacy as a result of cellphone theft.
Christchurch electromagnetic frequency expert Martin Gledhill, who has been tracking global research into the risks of cellphone use, said the latest findings from Britain's Mobile Telecommunications and Health Research Programme (MTHR) supported the conclusions of specialist health groups who found no persuasive evidence of health effects from exposure to radiofrequency (RF) fields.
In India alone counterfeits make up more than 20% of the cellphone market, causing US$1.
This service allows you to access Cellphone Banking through a dial-up session.
Evidence is mounting that cellphone conversations are much more annoying than other types of overheard conversations or ambient noise.
After making this payment, the cellphone owner can go directly to a GSM operator to register the cellphone or register it online through the BTK's e-government system.