RIP – Analog Cel Phones

17 02 2008

The Washington Post notes a death that most people I know on the Coasts really won’t notice — tomorrow (February 18th) the FCC will allow mobile phone operators to shut off their analog phone service. AT&T and Verizon will shut off those services that day. (Spring and T-Mobile don’t have analog networks anymore). If you’ve bought a cel phone anytime in the last, oh, four years, you won’t really to worry about it. But I would imagine that there are some people who haven’t been buying a new phone every year or two.

I suppose that there were plenty of people who complained about the shift away from dial phones to push-button tone phones (I seem to remember that, for years, when you purchased a phone there was a toggle switch on it that enabled you to use tone or pulse mode — pulse being the old fashioned dial way). I also suppose that there were people who complained about the invention of the car, the printing press, and people.

The fact remains that, even with this event, the United States is still miles behind virtually every other country in the world in terms of digital cel phone technology and deployment. It’s tough to imagine how we’re going to get to the point where we can receive reliable cell service everywhere (I’m fond of mentioning that, even on my first trip to the Middle East, I could get a cel signal in the middle of the Jordanian desert, but still couldn’t get one in my living room in Santa Monica).

When an old dinosaur like the United States moves off of analog cell service and, next year, onto digitally-transmitted television, it makes me hope for the future. What could be next — digital downloads of music, films and television?

Maybe someday, when the RIAA and the AMPTP get their heads out of their butts.

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