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Technology Q &A Column - From our January 2001 Newsletter


Q: I am having trouble deciding which cellar phone company and plan is right for my
business. Do you have advice on how to choose the right plan?

A: There are so many cellular service companies out there, and each with a myriad
of plans. So how is one to pick and choose? Before picking a cellular phone
service plan, what are the factors that you must consider?

Here are a few that you should ponder:

Your monthly usage, that is how many minutes a month will
you use your phone?

What additional features you must have. For example: caller
ID, paging with or without text messages, voice mail, free
long distance, and wireless web service.

The charges you can tolerate. There are rates that range from
$9.99 to $399.00 a month.

The quality of service where you live or do business.

Is the phone for business or personal use?

Based on the above factors, you can determine which service plan meets your
needs best. There are websites that can help you make that choice. For example offers a point-and-click method of determining the
service that meets your criteria from about 80 qualifying plans. If you don’t have
access to the Web, you can check the daily paper for advertisements that can
give you rates and the cost of features.

Here are some sample rates from various service providers:

For at least 150 minutes a month with free long distance, here are some typical

Sprint PCS Free & Clear 180 $29.99

Verizon (formerly GTE) DigitalChoice FamilyNet Share Plan 250 $34.99

Sprint PCS Special Holiday Plan 1500 $34.99

Verizon (formerly GTE)DigitalChoice 250 $34.99

AT&T Wireless (formerly CellularOne SF) California 200 $39.99

As for the type of phone, there are analog (in which the phone sends a
continuous stream or signal), and digital PCS (in which the phone sends bursts of
digitized signals) to choose from. In either case the phones send their signals to
a cell that is a geographic region that contains a radio transmitter and control
equipment, thus the derivation of the term "cellular" phone. From there the signal
is connected to a regular phone exchange where your call is routed to its
destination by various means.

Analog systems were first to come on the scene
over 20 years ago, and now there are different digital systems out there
competing for your business. The trend is for digital systems to proliferate
because these systems are more secure, and can handle a higher number of calls
per cell. Your best choice for a higher quality of service is to choose a phone that
combines both analog and digital technologies. That way if you are in regions
where only one or the other exists, you can still communicate.

However, before you purchase a phone, you should check with the service provider
that you have selected to make sure that it is compatible with the digital
technology that is built into that phone. It is also prudent to select the service
provider that provides as many "cells" as possible near your place of business or
home so that you avoid "dead" spots where cellular service is not available. Also
check with various service providers to see if they have special deals where you
can get a free or low-cost cellular phone when you sign up for activation. Note
that activation often involves payment of a small fee as well.


January 2001 | February 2001 | March 2001 | April 2001 | May 2001 | June 2001 | July 2001
| August 2001 | September 2001 | October 2001 | November 2001 | December 2001

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