Cell phone technology growing

Posted: Friday, July 02, 2004

A cell phone technology that does away with breaks in calls when traveling from one area to another was introduced to business leaders at a Soldotna Chamber of Commerce luncheon Tuesday.

CDMA, which stands for Code-Division Multiple Access, is a technology system that features a new wireless network with more than 330,000 access lines in Alaska, according to Mary Ann Pease, vice president of corporate communications for Alaska Communications Systems.

Describing the wireless network as "telecommunications for the future," Pease said its model is rooted in customer expectations rather than experiences.

"In the 1970s, wireless communication was only used in the military; in the '80s it was analog only; the '90s brought nationwide roaming; and in 2000 we had camera phones. In 2010, we will have high speed data capabilities," Pease said.

In addition to exceptional voice clarity, the CDMA system offers two data transmission speeds and the ability to hookup to the Internet from a cell phone.

"You think they were concerned when we were on our phones while driving, wait'll we start surfing the Web," she joked.

One key feature of the new technology is that it is seamless, meaning when mobile callers move from one site to the next, there is no break in the call.

Pease also told the 30 business people attending the lunch meeting at the Riverside House that communications are handled by digital codes, making calls "very secure."

ACS has built its CDMA coverage in Alaska population centers, including Kenai, Seward, Anchorage, the Matanuska Valley, Fairbanks and Juneau.

The phone company has designed a wide range of service products enabled by the new technology, including picture phones and high-speed data products that can be used with laptop computers.

As a demonstration of CDMA's capabilities, Pease took a picture with her picture phone at the Riverside House, sent it to her e-mail address and opened the photo on the laptop computer she used during her presentation.

She then displayed the photo on a movie screen in the restaurant's dining room.

"With a picture phone, you can snap a picture and send it anywhere in the world," Pease said.

When asked how many pixels the photo contained, she admitted she did not know and added that the photos are not high-resolution photos.

"They're more like snapshots," she said.

Pease said the new wireless network avails customers to a wide variety of handheld phones and a wide range of rate plans for various services. She said the phones and plans are described in detail at the company's Web site, www.acsalaska.com/cdma.

"The camera phone retails for a couple hundred bucks," she said.

She also said people can have unlimited Internet access on their laptops for $80 a month.

One new phone design shown to the business leaders is the Kyocera SE44, which she referred to as the "slider phone." A palm-sized cell phone, two parts of the device slide open to make it twice the size for calling and playing computer games.

"It's really popular with young people," Pease said.

The new wireless network is available on the Kenai Peninsula, and Pease said it will go to a higher transmission speed currently available in Anchorage in 2005.

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