iStock_000054060056_SmallGiven that a mobile phone’s most basic function is 2-way communication, a mobile phone is simply just a radio with additional, somewhat sophisticated, capabilities. However, being able to handle such a large amount of tasks such as, keeping a schedule, writing emails, updating social media, browsing the Internet, banking, composing notes, taking photos, watching videos, listening to music and everything else in between, doesn’t keep carriers and manufacturers from trying to improve the ease-of-use that cell phones have. In many ways, it’s as if cell phone users learn to run before they learn to crawl. So in just focusing on the “cell phone” aspect of things and not all of the bells and whistles that come with it, what makes a cellular phone cellular?

In order to make phone calls on any cellular/mobile phone, it must be in range of an antenna tower. These towers are built and spaced out based on how each “cell” is divided within a single city. These cells are shaped like hexagons and typically span a 10 square mile area, with each cell connected to create an entire grid. Because cellular phones operate on lower-frequencies supplied by these towers, each cell phone carrier gets around 832 radio frequencies to use per “cell”, with each mobile phone system using around two frequencies per call. However, these frequencies used in the process are recycled and reused repeatedly so that more than one mobile phone is able to use them at a time.

AntennaWhen traveling or moving from one cell to another, a cell phone will attempt to “hand off” the cellular signal connection from one tower or “cell” to another. When this occurs, the cell phone tries to connect to the same SID (System Identification Number) on the new cell tower as it had on the one before it. This may result in an unnoticeably fast change in signal or the amount of “service bars” displayed on your phone. Unfortunately this can also result in a dropped call or a “No Signal” error message on your phone’s screen.

Since the birth of the mobile phone, carrier companies constantly attempt to improve how many different resources a single mobile phone system uses. With the term “less is more”, carrier companies work towards building more stable networks for all mobile phone users. Mobile phones are no longer large, brick-sized devices that contain large batteries or an entire phone system that is installed in an automobile. Calls no longer sound like walkie-talkie communication and radio static. Each new model phone is an improvement of its predecessor with clearer sound, better graphics, faster speeds and longer lasting batteries.