Tri-band Cell Phones

Written by Helen Glenn Court
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Chances are good that tri-band cell phones will fill your needs in world capable digital wireless fairly nicely. Ideally they'll be SIM-enabled as well. However, the odds are equally good that whatever phone you buy, you'll replace it within a few years. The first thing, however, is to put all this technology in context. Once that's done, you'll be better poised to make intelligent choices and get the most bang for your buck.

Digital wireless technology arose more quickly in Europe, and sooner, than it did in the United States. This GSM (Global Spéciale Mobile) standard was accepted in 1985 within the European community and spread rapidly to Africa, Asia, and the Pacific Rim. It included two frequencies, 900 MHz and 1800 MHz, and a removable SIM--subscriber identification module--chipset technology to link customers to the network. Tri-band phones are enabled to take advantage of the 900/1800 frequency and the SIM technology.

Soon after, in 1987, in the shadow of the break-up of AT&T, a Federal Communications Commission ruling left U.S. wireless providers to develop services on any technology they wished. By 1996 three primary digital networks were in place--TDMA (time division multiple access), CDMA (code division multiple access), and GSM (which by then meant global service mobile communications). This GSM, however, operated, inconveniently, on a different frequency--1900 MHz.

Tri-band Phones for Sale

GSM phones produced for Europe and Asia were therefore useless in America, and vice versa. The solution today is tri-band phones. If you travel abroad--and this includes right across the border in Canada and Mexico--frequently and want or need to use your cell phone, tri-band technology is exactly what you want to get. The alternative is to use your existing phone and pay from $1to $7 a minute.


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