How Does a Cell Phone Work?

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  • Cell phones are wireless and don't connect to any electrical lines. The best way to begin to explain how cell phones work is to look at your radio. Radios transmit through radio frequency. They have FM and AM frequencies. Cell phones also rely on radio frequency to work.

  • The Federal Communications Commission of the United States regulates the amount of radio frequency that is allowed to be used by cell phones at one time. Cell phones use towers, which means that one tower would be regulated to let's say 3,000 phone calls at once. That may be enough for a small town with a population of less than 3,000 people, but it certainly wouldn't be enough for a large city like Chicago. The answer to that problem came in the creation of more cell phone towers.

  • The amount of cell phone towers needed in each city and town depends on the demand. That means the more populated the town, the more likely you are to have a large number of cell phone users. A small town may have only one cell phone tower while a large city may have 10 to 20 towers. Your cell phone comes with a set of little bars. The bars tell you the strength your phone has to make a call. Basically, if your bars are low, you are far away from a cell tower. If your bars are high, then you are close to a cell phone tower and should receive excellent reception.

  • Your call can actually be passed from one cell phone tower to the next. As you are walking or driving and you are leaving one area and entering another, your cell phone will automatically connect to the tower with the strongest signal. You won't even notice that this has happened and your call will continue as normal.

  • Each cell phone tower has a number of channels increasing the number of cell phone users that can connect to that tower. In fact, there are over 1,664 channels. Again, these cell phones use a radio frequency and users should beware that anyone who gets on the same channel can hear your conversation. Sometimes this happens by accident, and sometimes it is done on purpose. So understand how the cell phone works and watch what you say on your cell phone to protect yourself.

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