Posted by: Stephen Wildstrom on February 15, 2008
On Monday, most of the analog wireless phone networks, the ones that gave birth to cell phone service in the 1980s, will go dead. The Federal Communications Commission has given network operators, primarily AT&T and Verizon Wireless, to shut down the obsolete services and shift the spectrum in the very valuable 800 MHz band over to their digital networks.
Most phone users will never notice, their old analog bricks having long ago been replaced by digital handsets. (A while back while cleaning up, I came across an old Motorola Star-Tac analog phone, in its day the very essence of compact coolness. I was shocked by how big it was compared to today’s handsets.) The main impact of the shutdown will be on old phones that have been donated for emergency use only; with the network’s gone, they’ll no longer be able to make 911 calls. General Motors’ OnStar used the analog networks on a lot of older cars, but it terminated service for them as of the end of last year.