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Goodbye To 2007--And To Analog Cell Service

I hope the subject of this post isn't news to you--but if it is, get ready to shop for a new cell phone. By February 18, all of the nationwide wireless carriers will have turned off their analog signals for good, and some analog-based devices will become useless chunks of circuitry as soon as tomorrow.

Analog cellular has been dying for years for most of the right reasons: It drains batteries, it doesn't support any data features, and it's grossly inefficient compared to digital service. And as digital networks have steadily expanded, the amount of territory covered only by analog has shrunk--not that analog coverage matters at all if your phone, like any new model, only tunes into digital signals.

So in 2002, the Federal Communications Commission voted to stop requiring carriers to offer analog service as of Feb. 18, 2008.

(This ruling is interesting reading if you have the time. It notes that the FCC had earlier standardized on analog, in part, "to facilitate competition by eliminating the need for cellular consumers to acquire different handset equipment in order to switch between the two competing carriers." The FCC then essentially forgot that ideal for a couple of decades before imposing interoperability requirements on the soon-to-be-auctioned block of 700 MHz airwaves.)

With their regulatory obligations concluded, Verizon Wireless and AT&T both say they will pull the plug on analog service on Feb. 18.

This will affect only a tiny fraction of wireless-phone users in America--though I suspect a few wireless users in rural areas will find they've dropped off the map overnight. But phones aren't the only devices that run on analog cellular, as this Associated Press story notes. Many home alarms and vehicle-assistance systems (principally, GM's OnStar) also have digital-compatibility issues.

Home alarms can be upgraded or replaced, but some of these car systems either cannot or can only be done so at a non-trivial cost. We're not just talking about 10-year-old vehicles--Lexus kept selling analog-only versions of its Lexus Link system until 2004, GM was building analog-only OnStar hardware as late as 2005, and some Mercedes-Benz cars--even the $300,000-and-way-up Maybach--shipped with analog-only TeleAid systems last year.

And inconveniently enough, these three manufacturers are terminating their analog service tomorrow. Happy New Year! But if you were tempted to blame the FCC for this, don't. Anybody with even the vaguest acquaintance with the wireless industry could have told you a decade ago that analog was on the way out. Car manufacturers have some serious explaining to do here.

If you've got a phone or another telecommunications device that doesn't speak digital, what's your next move? (If you last used an analog phone in the prior millennium, you're welcome to reminisce about the "delights" of analog service.)

By Rob Pegoraro  |  December 31, 2007; 9:14 AM ET
Categories:  Telecom  
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Comments

I found the analog service useful only because its signal could reach my phone at my office - I work by Union Station but my office is in the center of the stone building so 99% of the time my phone can't get a signal. But with digital only phones its constantly looking for a signal - which kills my battery - I had to charge it daily or my phone was dead. My current phone is digital and analog and I bought it because the Verizon sales guy told me that the analog bit would allow the signal to reach my phone better. I don't know if that's true or not but I do know that if I place my phone in one of 2 spots it gets a weak signal but my battery isn't drained daily. Guess I'm going to have to start setting up daily charging reminders again.

Posted by: Washington DC | December 31, 2007 11:44 AM | Report abuse

I don't own an expensive smartphone, like most people, I use a regular cell phone with cheap unlimited data plan. The best mobile-friendly portal by far is http://a1r.mobi (for guys) and http://a1r.mobi/me (for women). Both offer news, entertainment, live chat, forums, and 411. From either site, you can easily get to everything you want - fast and everything is mobile-friendly. Plus, unlike my company workstation, I can take my mobile phone on breaks to read my personal e-mail or top news stories. Most people with web-enabled cell phones don't even use the feature because they don't know how or that it even exists, or think it may be too expensive (check your carrier plans). The main reason I didn't use my mobile phone at first was it was too much of a pain to find truly mobile-friendly sites. Most sites took too long to load, looked crappy when they did load, and often just froze. http://a1r.mobi is way different. Try it out on your own cell phone and see for yourself. Like me, you may decide you don't need to trade up to a smartphone to enjoy web browsing.

Posted by: Kurt Wentz | December 31, 2007 12:36 PM | Report abuse

I still have an Audiovox analog car phone in my 1990 Accord, though when service got to be $30 a month or so (not including airtime) several years ago I finally took the plunge into digital. What I remember about the analog service is that it was crystal clear, and with no noticeable propagation delay - as in, compared favorably with the standard "land line".

As t e years ha e gon by I've b en am zed at the so nd q ality that we ha e all le rned to ac ept as the c rrent stan ard in ex hange for the co ven ence of ha ing a p one wi h us at all t mes.

Posted by: Charles | December 31, 2007 4:12 PM | Report abuse

Yes, I am one of those people whose OnStar service will be discontinued after today. I have a 2004 VW Passat with OnStar installed and serviced by "Volkswagon Telematics".

The first mailing from OnStar back in 2006 that I received told me about the impending doom for my OnStar service, but hinted that there would be an upgrade possible for my vehicle. Later that year, I received a follow-up letter that stated that actually, no, there would be no upgrade possible and that I would be left high-and-dry after 31-Dec-2007.

I called both OnStar and VW to confirm, and their stance was "Blame the government for doing this to you -- don't blame us!"

When asked whether there was any way that my car could be upgraded, I got a lame explanation that it would have required a complete overhaul of my automobile's electronics system to do an upgrade to "digital". The OnStar representative tried to convince me that such an upgrade from analog to digital was prohibitively complex. Basically the representative was talking out of her depth and made an idiot of herself.

My VW dealer was equally unhelpful. They too explained that it was the government's fault and that there was no upgrade possible. As an aside note, I have found that VW on the whole is way behind the technology curve -- On another occasion when I called about a different topic (HD radio), the service manager had no idea what I was talking about. I had asked whether VW sold HD radio upgrades for their vehicles. His attitude was that I was asking for something that he had never in his life heard of and that I was from Mars for asking.

At this point, I'm hoping that someone out there comes up with a hack for my OnStar system that I, on my own, can follow to change out the receiver with hacked digital handset that I can buy off the shelf. I realize that I wouldn't get any of the OnStar features, but I would be satisfied with being able to make phone calls using the hands-free phone hardware that is currently used by the OnStar device.

My opinion about this whole thing? I feel like I got shafted by OnStar and VW. I would have gladly spent as much as $250 for an upgrade package to allow me to continue to use the OnStar service. I cannot believe that they would let paying customers just drop off of the face of the earth -- especially for a service where their subscribers pay premium fees for phone calls and services. Their final answer was "buy a new car". Bah. OnStar -- Never Again.

Posted by: Jeff Groves | December 31, 2007 4:24 PM | Report abuse

So, now that analog cell phones are gone, does that mean that we can now safely use our digital phones in and around medical equipment (ie hospitals) or on airplanes? Do they _really_ interfere with signals, or is it a hype to push us into submission?

Posted by: Doc | December 31, 2007 4:28 PM | Report abuse

Doc: we've been able to use cell phones safely around medical equipment for a long time. The prohibitions are based on anecdotal reports that don't stand up to scrutiny. There are several studies out there that say it's perfectly safe to use cell phones (analog and digital) in hospitals as long as you're not right next to (within three feet or so) of medical equipment. And even that distance is for analog phones; digital ones can be used safely in an ICU room or OR; I've done it plenty of times.

Posted by: PJG | December 31, 2007 7:58 PM | Report abuse

City dwellers will have no problem, provided they have new phones.

The whole digital thing was intended to free up bandwidth (channels) and reduce handheld device power consumption.

Where many of us use analog is out in the countryside and some main roads. A survival tool for outdoor folk like bikers, hikers and backpackers.

Kiss service goodbye out in the hinterlands, which is 80% of the U.S.

It's unfortunate that there will be some preventable deaths over Analog being turned off, particularly by people who would have been saved by a phone call.

Do you think those rural analog locations will be turned into digital? Don't bet your life on it. The only reason those analog locations exist is because of the cost involved in switching to digital. Just simply not cost effective for the carrier.

"No Service Available"

Posted by: TFT | December 31, 2007 8:54 PM | Report abuse

Here in my home town Perth, Western Australia, we have a cable running from top to botton of skyscrapers. It supplies "Microcells" on each floor, which supply signals for at least three CellPhone carriers. Microcells are easy to install for 3G and GSM. I am writing this for all those people who cannot get a signal in their offices, just ask your carrier to help.

Posted by: myles e nicholas | January 1, 2008 12:52 AM | Report abuse

Just another example of the government that cares less for the people and only for the corporations. Instead of our tax dollars being spent to help the people, it is only being used to help the corporations, the same ones that are shipping American jobs overseas and maximizing their profits by reducing services to the consumer and raising their prices and laying off Americans.

Posted by: John Barradale | January 1, 2008 12:54 AM | Report abuse

In Australia we closed Analogue many years ago, and replaced it with CDMA which gave the same long distance coverage and added Texting. Now we are closing the CDMA service, which enables 60 miles away calls, with Telstra's NextGen capable of 120 miles, from a carphone. Also it supports live video and audio calls and data rates of 3.6MB/sec. One can also surf the Net and watch Movies whilst driving. ($12/month 12 channels).
Dream on America, maybe it will happen their one day.

Posted by: myles e nicholas | January 1, 2008 1:04 AM | Report abuse

Wow, watch movies while you are driving, our traffic is bad enough. The technology is good but please don't surf or watch movies while driving.

Posted by: jimbo | January 1, 2008 4:22 AM | Report abuse

In Oz we pretty much have dumped all analog based systems (CDMA etc). There is pretty good GSM coverage all over the country including 3G (WCDMA).

Now, with the 850Mhz CDMA frequency free, our national carrier (Telstra) has begun to implement 850Mhz WCDMA giving country users the long distance along with the benefits of digital.

The distance and penetration of a signal has more to do with the frequency and power level. The clarity is related to the resilience of the technology (CDMA, GSM etc) of which 3GSM technologies are excellent - as long as you are getting signal you will get (in theory) a perfect quality call (i have had a 100% quality call with no bars but still enough signal for reception). Of course the slight and IMHO irrelevant downside is that a 3GSM signal doesn't slowly die - it just drops out at the end of the range.

Posted by: Ben | January 1, 2008 7:42 AM | Report abuse

I live in rural Australia, and the new digital service fails to meet the coverage of the older analogue service, despite claims from the major telco to the contrary. Like rural americans, we have had foisted upon us a system designed to increase telco profit margin, at the expense of accessability. Most handsets being sold in Australia are woefully inadequate in rural areas, and consumers are being told that they need to upgrade to a car based phone, which is totally impractical if you want to put the phone in your pocket, jump on your horse, and get the cows in. For rural Americans and Australians, digital telephony has proven to be a backward step. Once again service provision has lost out to corporate profitability.

Posted by: Steven | January 1, 2008 8:30 AM | Report abuse

I can't believe they are ditching it just now. Australia switched analogue off in 2000. Next thing we'll here is that SUV's are still popular in US, yeah right!

Posted by: Frank | January 1, 2008 8:36 AM | Report abuse

This is just another example of the government telling us what's right for us. If we truly are capitalist, we should allow analog go away naturally through market forces--that is, when the cost outweighs the benefits. If people still like using analog and there are companies willing to provide it, why stop them? Is it going to prevent us from evolving to better technology? Isn't that our choice?

Oh, and the reason any digital signal just drops off is because there is a power threshold. So, as you have experienced, you either get a great signal or nothing. Also, if you are above the threshold, sending the signal with more power will have a more-or-less linear increase in power received.

Posted by: Danny | January 1, 2008 12:48 PM | Report abuse

The government isn't telling anyone to do anything here. If you read the article, it says that the FCC will STOP REQUIRING carriers to offer analog service. This is deregulation, which is almost always a good thing. The carriers are choosing to pull the plug on their own accord. Yeah, maybe a few people will lose a signal in remote areas, but who cares? It's a free country with a free market. The carriers can do whatever they please. And if you don't like it, then don't buy service from them. I'm not positive, but I would bet that it costs a lot of money to keep these old analog systems up and running, especially when they service a very small percentage of people. If it helps drive operating costs down, then let it be.

Posted by: Ben | January 1, 2008 2:52 PM | Report abuse

This article would have had a lot more value if the author had taken one or two sentences to explain what analogue cell phones are. That's just basic writing techniques 101. Instead of just examples of analogue systems (which means nothing to the reader unless you know what analog is) how about a brief definition?

Posted by: Dominique | January 1, 2008 2:55 PM | Report abuse

@Danny
No one's making cell phone companies switch off analog service, they're freeing companies from being FORCED to continue analog service. If it weren't for those laws, companies would have terminated analog services years ago.

Posted by: Prashant | January 1, 2008 3:00 PM | Report abuse

Danny: the FCC ending the requirement for carriers to provide analog sounds a lot like what you are advocating.

Kurt W.: "data plan" means you are using a digital phone (at least for that service).

Posted by: ROC | January 1, 2008 3:01 PM | Report abuse

"Analog cellular has been dying for years for most of the right reasons"

So provincial, east-coasty rustbelt!

Rob, out here in the BIG country where people drive SUV's for a good reason (unlike urban fashinoistas) we have wide open spaces and analog is the fallback when traversing them. When we go hiking and camping in the mountains, or over the passes, it is a big comfort when the "analog roam" indicator comes on and we know we can keep in touch if we need to.

Posted by: Bix Dugan | January 1, 2008 3:13 PM | Report abuse

Agreed, Ben. It's actually a free market now, and our government doesn't feel it's responsible to provide a potentially life-saving service to our rural population. Just like the free-market health-care plan: "Don't get sick". It's time America realizes that good government is important to us.

Posted by: Malcolm | January 1, 2008 3:14 PM | Report abuse

Yet another thing that makes millions upon millions of people throw away perfectly good cell phones to switch to digital.

We have enough of a landfill problem.

The problem will only get worse when tvs switch to digital. And almost nothing good comes of it. They're making people switch only out of greed

Posted by: jake3988 | January 1, 2008 3:15 PM | Report abuse

Analog networks are indeed inefficient with the frequencies. And although they have better rural coverage, that better rural coverage stems not from the technology but from the frequencies. So it makes sense to turn off the analog networks, but if rural coverage is a priority, then the lower frequencies that were used for analog should be turned over to digital, as Myles E Nicholas mentioned happened in Australia.

Basically, the technology should be separated from the regulatory obligation to provide coverage. It doesn't make sense to prolong the life of an obsolete, costly, inefficient technology, but it does make sense to impose coverage requirements (using whatever technology) on the oligopoly of mega-mobile operators. So fine, let them turn off the analog. But let them (or someone) keep the frequencies, and force them to provide universal mobile coverage using whatever digital technology makes the most commercial sense.

Posted by: John | January 1, 2008 3:38 PM | Report abuse

Try PLANNED OBSOLESENCE!!!! The transition from analog to digital is the electronic industries' "payday". Just think, how does one get a whole bunch of consumers to give up PERFECTLY WORKING tv's, cell phones, (and eventually) AM and FM radios; let alone those affected by the shutdown of analog cell phone service like people with analog 'On-Star' and home alarm systems; EXCEPT BY MAKING THEM OBSOLETE!!!!!! Couple that, with the service providers propensity to "lock" consumers in to their proprietary services (XM and Sirius satellite radio for example); and it looks like the old adage; "Money Talks, B---s--- Walks" is indeed true.

Posted by: Bob | January 1, 2008 3:44 PM | Report abuse

I am a 67 year old disabled woman who drives 9 hours in one direction across NV passing through just 3 small towns, to visit my children & grandchildren. There have been just a 20% of the area where I can't get cell phone service. Now there will be large areas where I will be out of touch no matter if I have car trouble, feel ill, etc.

I wish each government & corporate official would be required to send his wife or daughter out to drive for 9 hours with no emergency connection. Perhaps it would give them some human feeling besides greed.

Posted by: 826 writes | January 1, 2008 3:56 PM | Report abuse

Do any of the people complaining here even remember NOT having a cell phone? If you had been able to read your own complaints on this thread back then, you would have laughed at yourselves.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 1, 2008 4:19 PM | Report abuse

The digital TV "thing" will only affect broadcast signals. Cable and Satellite providers are already digital. People who receive TV through antenna are the only ones to be affected, so I've been told.

As far as Onstar and similar services, they should have been abreast of the upcoming change and should have a solution ready. It seems like they would only need a digital receiver to replace the analog one installed in the vehicle. How difficult can that be?

If the current cell service providers convert the analog signal to digital you can bet they will require consumers to buy a new phone anyway.

Posted by: Phil | January 1, 2008 4:19 PM | Report abuse

About the Television signals, your current television will only continue to work if you have satellite or cable through a satellite or cable receiver. If you're one of millions of Americans who pay for basic cable and hook your television straight up to the wall, you will NOT be able to receive television signals. It will also affect those with antennas receiving broadcast signals. To keep your current television, you will have to upgrade to digital cable, switch to satellite, or buy/rent a "converter".

Ah, capitalism. No matter how bad it gets, it's still better than communism.

Posted by: Jaydee | January 1, 2008 5:03 PM | Report abuse

It is correct people in remote areas are going to lose cell phone service when analog goes away. But wait until they find out that digital TV has the same issues. Remote areas will also lose all over-the-air television. This is well-known too, but no one cares.

Posted by: George11 | January 2, 2008 9:31 AM | Report abuse

"If your vehicle is a 2003, 2004, or 2005, you will need to update your OnStar system. An adapter will cost approximately $200. If your vehicle is a 2002 or older, there is no adapter available."

http://www.consumeraffairs.com/news04/2007/04/onstar.html

Posted by: Tim | January 2, 2008 9:33 AM | Report abuse

First, is anyone as amazed as I am that this column is read nationally and globally? I realize that the interweb is everywhere, but comments typically seem to come from the metro DC area.

I have a 2001 Saab 9-3 that I purchased about two years ago and have enjoyed the OnStar service simply for the piece of mind. I really wish that there was a cost-effective (under $500) solution which would allow me to at least keep the hands-free cell phone and the emergency assistance features. I don't care about the vehicle diagnostics, but I have used the red emergency button at least three times to report serious accidents in rural areas in Pennsylvania and Maryland.

Posted by: AlwaysAnEagle | January 2, 2008 9:56 AM | Report abuse

If people are seriously worried about getting rural coverage everywhere, I have reason to believe that sat-phones will fill the void quite nicely, and you can get them in pocket sizes now. Maybe Rob can review them next!

Further, this is technology people, and tech inevitably becomes obsolete. I cannot wait for the outrage once the DTV transition begins in earnest in 2009.

Posted by: CapHill | January 2, 2008 10:19 AM | Report abuse

The old analog system had much greater range. Sets had 3 watts of transmitting power and range could be extended with high gain marine antennas. It was great for cruising the Great Lakes. I could communicate over 40 miles away using the small antenna and had constant communications with the high gain antenna.

Twice I was the only form of communications among our cruising group of 4 boats when family emergencies occurred. The only alternative now is to lease a satellite phone for $100/week and $2/minute. Digital phones are good for 8 miles max, and that is if there are no pine trees around.

Still miss my old bag phone.

Posted by: Corky Boyd | January 2, 2008 11:33 AM | Report abuse

Stop complaining so much. AMPS phones were only 3 watts when they included an external handset. AMPS handhealds were limited to 0.6 watts. Plus those in rural areas worried about their safety can always get a sat phone equipped with GPS for emergencies, it will work anywhere with a clear view of the sky.

Posted by: Chris | January 2, 2008 11:53 AM | Report abuse

I don't have a cell phone at all. And I am laughing at you and your electronic teats.
------

Do any of the people complaining here even remember NOT having a cell phone? If you had been able to read your own complaints on this thread back then, you would have laughed at yourselves.

Posted by: | January 1, 2008 04:19 PM

Posted by: Anonymous | January 2, 2008 12:59 PM | Report abuse

I bought into cellphones in 1985, with a large 3-watt Cellular One system, for $19.86 per month for 15 minutes.
I also bought a walkie-talkie sized phone made by STS for $800 a few years later.
My 1999 Lexus has a $1,500 voice recognition, reverb-free phone which has been useless because of decreased service.
My 2002 Toyota was equipped after-market with a TDMA system by AT&T, which later was gobbled up by Cingular and then SBE changed it over to AT&T.
They advised that TDMA was phasing out in favor of GSM; my Sprint GSM phone was replaced with CDMA at no extra cost to me.
I went to the new "AT&T", and asked for a conversion to GSM for my two "hands-free" carphones. AT&T demurred, saying buy two new cars with bluetooth, and GSM can be hands free.
I switched to Verizon CDMA w/ GPS if I need it, paid dearly for two hands-free installations ($600 for kits and labor for two cars). The network works even in elevators, in every building I have needed to use it, and the cost ofr 4 LG/VX8300 phones is only $110 per month for 700 minutes which i never exceed! My family in Michigan and California is also on Verizon CDMA. I hate TEXT messaging, but I can't stop strangers who misdial from sending to me, at $.15 per message+.
VERIZON is good enuf for me!
FOR THE AUSSIES, WHY NOT SWITCH BACK TO CB RADIO? I haven't used mine in years; have they killed my old good buddy? 10-4!

Posted by: RSZPE | January 2, 2008 2:55 PM | Report abuse

The technical ignorance here is astonishing.

If TVs hooked up to basic (analog) cable stop receiving channels in 2009, it's the cable companies' fault, not that of the FCC: the FCC isn't requiring an end to analog cable, just over-the-air analog broadcast.

Furthermore, GSM service fails completely at the end of its range literally because the signal cannot travel the distance to the tower in the time allotted. CDMA doesn't have to fail this way, but suffers because digital phones are almost all much lower-powered than their analog ancestors.

Posted by: JoshC | January 2, 2008 3:01 PM | Report abuse


WHO NEEDS ANALOG !!

For those who are worried about not having analog service after 2/18/08, I think I am better off with digital I found a solution for myself by replacing my analog carphone and still driving safely handsfree using my digital verizon razr without losing signal in a rural area in NY.
I installed a BLUECARPHONE from CARTEL MOBILE SOLUTIONS a cradle with a external antenna and a SIGNAL BOOSTER and I am happier with this setup more then I have ever been with my old analog carphone paying $.75 a minute when most of the time there was a digital network available. Check it out www.Bluecarphone.com

The only thing ill miss is my startac.

Posted by: Nick | January 2, 2008 3:39 PM | Report abuse

I don't see many comments and/or information about rural users losing ALL telephone capabilities with the discontinuance of analog. Here where I live, in the mountains, installing a land line constituted almost $20,000 to run it 1-1/2 miles. I could buy a lot of air time with that kind of money so came to depend on my cell phone with its analog reaching capabilities for running my business as well as personal communication. Since the old Nokia 5185 "workhorse" is the only phone that would give us telephone call capabilities, we used and stuck with that. Our phones are both over 10 years old and still work well. They are dual analog/digital. All we've ever wanted is to be able to make and receive a simple telephone call. All those other bells and whistles that these modern phones have is useless "stuff" for us. If it can't make a phone call, as all the newer phones we've tried can't in our situation, they are just junk. So, try living in the mountains without a telephone at all when the analog plug is pulled. Satellite VoIP is not an option without a land line so that is a dead horse for us also. Analog worked just fine for us and without it we have no phone service without driving miles to a high enough hill to get a weaker digital signal. Pooh.

Posted by: Linda | January 2, 2008 4:57 PM | Report abuse

Microsoft leads the way!
http://fakesteveballmer.blogspot.com

Posted by: stevenBallmer | January 3, 2008 9:16 AM | Report abuse

Linda, you can get home telephone service by satellite without a telephone line. Look into it.

Posted by: Jaydee | January 6, 2008 3:59 AM | Report abuse

So what do people do who need to make calls (no data needs) from areas not served by digital towers? If Verizon and ATT don't allow/provide analog service then what are the options for occasional users in the Northeast Kingdom (VT)? I can't imagine all the exist towers will be upgraded for digital service...

So NEK will be as North Dakota (low population density--> no service)?

Posted by: vt_traveler | January 6, 2008 11:53 PM | Report abuse

Linda:
"Satellite VoIP is not an option without a land line..." ??
1. Consider/test sat-internet w/Skype-VOIP before alt's as expensive Hughes below. Sold a year,Philips VOIP841 Skype-phone $130 avoids PC, connects directly to a router, has echo/delay/ small-bandwidth tweaks designed for Skype-VOIP which may reduce/avoid sat-link 'stutters'. Users rate VOIP841 on cable-broadband better than cell. 841sleep-mode allows 24/7 use. Skype-Pro: unlimited SkypeIN, SkypeOUT, voicemail,$100/YEAR in US includes landlines, cells.
2. highspeedsatDOTcom -- Hughes Network Systems: "The DW6040 provides up to four toll-quality telephone or Group 3 facsimile channels via satellite to the PSTN or, optionally, to a Voice over IP (VoIP) network." Looks gnomes maxed current tech on this. Phone$400, plus sat-link costs, plus monthly $$ ?? I'd try (1) first.

Posted by: mpnc | January 10, 2008 1:14 PM | Report abuse

What will happen to all the old analog phones that were donated to places like battered women's shelters for use in calling 911??

Posted by: Bob | January 13, 2008 7:00 PM | Report abuse

We already have too many industries forcing customers to purchase products when they already have one that works. So many people in this world are unemployed and under-employed. Forcing people, through legislation, to purchase products is wrong, morally and ethically. But, then again governments and commerce are not concerned with what is right, just the bottom line.

Posted by: John Barradale | January 22, 2008 12:34 AM | Report abuse

I have had the same cel phone since the beginning of the cel phone revolution. It is analog--no bells and whistles. I don't need bells and whistles. I just like having a phone handy.

I still use the original battery, all these years on. It still holds a charge for several days without requiring a recharge. The argument that analog uses up battery faster than digital--hogwash.

As with all things new, built-in obsolesence is the goal, requiring people to upgrade constantly. My phone, purchased before the industry had determined a good built-in obsolesence standard, has served me more than well. Friends and family have changed phones half a dozen times, while I still operate on my original.

This is a big "screw-you" to me. I like my straight-forward phone, and resent being forced into the purchase of sub-standard equipment, ornately gilded with baubles I just don't want or need.

This is the sort of circumstance that makes people pine for the good old days...and I am only in my 30's...But we sure could use a dose of pride and decency that was the norm somewhere in the middle of the great American century.
Ackkk...I am gagging on consumerism.

Posted by: Analog Rocks | January 23, 2008 1:48 PM | Report abuse

Compare TV and cell service to the computer you have. I bet it is not over 3-4 years old! If technology didn't evolve, we'd still be using crank phones and asking an operator to place the call for us.

Posted by: John | January 28, 2008 5:32 PM | Report abuse

Why does everyone think that progressing technology is a conspiracy?

If you live in a really remote area, just get a satellite phone. They're still available for about $300. You can call from ANYWHERE! They're all prepaid, so you buy a bank of minutes, and use them as you see fit. You'd still need a regular digital phone for everyday use, but it's a small sacrifice for unbeatable coverage.

Analog cell phone service never worked that great for me, even when it was current technology, and I live in a major metropolitan area.

This isn't some huge government conspiracy. If anything, the major cell carriers are the victims -- forced by legislation to maintain a huge access network that most people don't (and can't) use. The vast majority of consumer cellular phones have been digital since 1999 -- nobody's being forced to buy new equipment, and if they are, it's long overdue.

I'm looking forward to digital TV -- wider coverage, interactive channel guides for free, etc. I put in for my 2 free converter boxes, so I'll be all set.

Posted by: J. Woods | February 11, 2008 3:48 PM | Report abuse

Going all digital is great, if you live in an area where you have all digital. BUT, for those of us that are in areas that only have analog service, it puts us in a bind. Being forced to buy another phone when the old technology worked just fine for those of us in rural areas doesn't make sense to me. It's an added expense I don't need.

Posted by: John Faulhaber | February 12, 2008 5:35 PM | Report abuse

I do think it's wrong to force all these people out of service. As many people have said, the rural area problem is a BIG problem. But saying "buy a satellite phone for $300+" isn't a fair solution. That's like the "buy a new car" solution. You know why? These people already have phones that have worked for them. They entered into a contract and paid month after month and possibly year after year. And then BAM sorry, we don't need your money anymore unless you upgrade. Not to mention not everyone has a spare $300 lying around plus the cash to add minutes. Just like not everyone has an extra $15,000+ to go buy a new car with OnStar.

The argument about "in the past no cell phones blah blah" doesn't hold up either. If there was an emergency there were even pay phones around. Nowadays it's rare to find a pay phone, depending on the area. Even then, people are used to cell phones now, they've been a technology staple for years.

Although it is a step forward, for many people it's more like technology has tripped and fallen flat on their face. A million people is a lot of people last time I checked.

Posted by: Christina | February 13, 2008 2:12 PM | Report abuse

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