Finding Your Way Through the Wireless Maze
By yearend, most U.S. cities will have three different types of service available. Here are some standard prices and features for each technology in the New York metropolitan area: ANALOG CELLULAR The original wireless service converts a call to electric impulses that travel in the form of radio waves. PRICE* FEATURES Service: $24.99/month includes Caller ID, 30 minutes of free airtime. voice mail After that, 69 cents/minute plus Battery life long-distance charges. 2 hours of Phone: $20 to $1,000 talk time. PROS CONS Available across the country, so Analog is subject to distor- you can use your phone almost tion and interference, so the anywhere. Because the system calls are frequently lost. It is is so widely used, the phones not suitable for data transmission are relatively inexpensive. and can be less secure. Voices sound almost as natural as on a regular phone call. DIGITAL CELLULAR Uses the same radio frequency as analog cellular, but it converts calls into the binary language of computers. PRICE* FEATURES Service: $24.99/month Voice mail includes 30 minutes of caller ID free airtime. After that, text messaging 59 cents/minute for local calls. Battery life Phone: $149 with a phone 5 hrs. trade-in, $199 without PROS CONS Eliminates hiss and distortion. The price of the phone is much Built-in encryption codes eliminate higher, and not all areas have fraud, and it is better suited digital cellular, so coverage is for data transmission. spotty. Voices on digital phones Can be used as a pager and for can sound clipped and tinny. transmitting E-mail and receiving information services, such as news headlines. PERSONAL COMMUNICATIONS SERVICE (PCS) Available in major cities by yearend, the technology is digital but transmits at a higher frequency than cellular services. PRICE** FEATURES Service: $9.99/month, including $5 Paging, E-mail, of free phone calls and 10 caller ID, fax minutes each of free paging and messages, E-mail. After that, local calls cost information 25 cents to 49 cents a minute. services. Battery Phone: $99 to $249 life: 4 hrs. PRO CONS The price is the edge: This service Coverage: PCS systems are by less than local wired service. definition local--the phones Like digital cellular there are not compatible with is little distortion. It is secure cellular frequencies, so they from fraud and is suitable for data. don't work outside the DATA: *BELL ATLANTIC-NYNEX MOBILE AND **OMNIPOINT CORP.
Updated June 15, 1997 by bwwebmaster
Copyright 1997, Bloomberg L.P.