There are over 8.3 billion mobile phones in use today and it’s amazing how many people have no idea how they work. Technology can often seem like magic, but wireless communication is far from magic, it is the result of decades of hard work by people around the world.
Whether you are working in an office, traveling, or relaxing at home, communicating with your coworkers, relatives and friends is now something we consider essential and over the course of this article we explore what it takes. to power that phone in your pocket to connect with the world.
There is no doubt that the global shift to mobile is underway, with landlines quickly becoming an obsolete technology of the past. When my wife and I built our house about 4 years ago, we chose not to include a landline for a landline as we live on our mobiles and would get internet through FTTP. In many offices, the same conversation is happening across Australia and the world as remote working has been really forced upon us by Covid-19.
As we leave 2G, 3G and even 4G behind to focus on 5G and possibly 6G mobile networks, it is clear that mobile connectivity is here to stay and is only getting better over time. So it’s really time you found out how it all worked.
What is mobile technology?
Mobile technology, also known as cellular technology, is technology that follows you everywhere. It consists of portable communication gadgets, computing devices and network technologies connecting communication and computing gadgets.
In the strictest definition of the word, a mobile phone is a type of radiotelephone that transfers data through a network of towers connected to the main public telephone network. It is a two-way wireless radio which consists of a radio receiver and a radio transmitter.
This is how cell phones work.
Cell phones use wireless technology
Although they serve the same purpose, mobile phones and landlines operate differently. Landlines are like toys that you can make by connecting two cans with a string. The words you speak or the sound you make travel through a string or wire connecting two devices. The difference between a mobile phone and a landline is that while a landline uses a wired connection to transfer sound, a mobile phone can receive and send calls without any wired connection. They operate using electromagnetic energy or radio waves that travel invisibly through space.
For a mobile phone to work, you must have a mobile plan that includes mobile data as well as voice calls. There are many options from different carriers, but one prepaid plan is a popular option, to make sure you (or your kids) don’t go over their limit). It’s also possible to get postpaid plans when using data and then pay the bill at the end of the month.
How does cell phone sound travel?
When you speak through a cell phone, a microphone in the device converts your voice into electrical signals. These signals are then converted into data (a series of ones and zeros) which are then broadcast using radio waves, broadcast by the mobile phone through the antenna of the mobile. Cell phones connect to mobile radio towers and often more than one at a time. Using triangulation, they can determine who you are closest to, and your radio waves travel through the air to the nearest mobile tower.
The mast receives the radio waves and transfers them to its base station or radio receiver, which coordinates this activity within parts of the mobile phone network. From the radio wave receiver, sound is routed to its destination.
How do cell phone towers work?
High power antennas are placed high above the ground, often on top of buildings. These reception towers allow you to make and receive calls, send SMS and MMS, and use mobile data. These towers are connected to the telecommunications infrastructure on the ground, passing through the networks of telecommunications operators.
These cell phone towers are often elevated to increase the chances of the antennas receiving and transmitting radio waves. Cell phone towers often transmit and receive signals from multiple angles, but that signal can be affected by an object between you and the tower. So, although transmission is possible through the walls of buildings, due to the penetration frequencies used, you may find yourself inside a concrete / steel structure that requires internal repeaters to amplify the signal.
How do cells work?
A cell phone works on the cellular principle and communicates with the cell that has the strongest signal. The network operator divides a region into small areas (cells), and each area contains an antenna, a base station, and a mast. Each cell provides mobile network coverage for a specific region.
Topography and population distribution determine the placement of cells and as we enter an era of high speed, more directional 5G mmWave technology. More cells are installed in urban centers to cater for the large population than the small population in rural areas and in recent years we have seen great improvements in places like sports stadiums which were frequently flooded during events.
Cell phones often contain antennas capable of transmitting on multiple bands. An antenna works by converting electrical signals into a radio wave transmitter or receiver. An antenna is a metal designed to transmit and receive specific radio wave frequencies.
A mobile phone requires both the incoming signal and the outgoing signal to work. Connectivity between a cellphone and its cellular network depends on both signals. It is also affected by other factors such as the nearest cell phone tower and the distance between the mobile phone and the nearest tower. A weak signal, typically indicated by fewer bars on your phone, indicates a signal interruption or a long distance between your phone and the cell tower.
To take with
The advent of cellphones over the past two decades and smartphones over the past decade + has radically changed humanity forever. We can now communicate in our personal and professional lives from virtually anywhere on the planet.
Finally, mobile phone technology is here to stay, and it contains many features to make our lives easier.