Crash Course in Mobile Telephony

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I’ve been writing about digital wireless phones ever since, well, ever since Qualcomm had its very first half dozen prototypes to show folk. I even got to play with one of those phones, at a trade show.

But a little more than a week ago, I got my first real “crash course” in mobile telephony. Or perhaps I should say “crush course.”

What happened was that I was sitting in a hospital parking lot, filling out a pile of forms. I got so immersed that I totally forgot that my cell phone was sitting on my lap, and when I got out of the car it apparently slipped out with me, but I didn’t notice until a couple of hours later.

Desolate that I couldn’t find it, I went home and jumped on my PC, using the GPS-based “find me” feature built into the phone to determine that it was still somewhere around the hospital. Charging back to the parking lot I looked some more, to no avail. Perhaps, the security folk said helpfully, it had been found and turned in to the hospital Lost and Found – which of course to my continuing bad luck was closed by then.

A quick call the next morning revealed that indeed it had been sitting in the Lost and Found overnight, so of course I rushed right over. But my joy turned to sadness when I retrieved my little phone – for it had been run over by a car before being found. Just about crushed to death, with a crinkly screen and a cover over the battery compartment that wouldn’t close any more; the only thing still usable was the find me function.

And thus I now find myself the owner of a brand new, shiny blue, HTC 8X Windows Phone 8. An LTE model, no less. In other words, the newest kid on the block. And I can even get LTE data around where I live, in fact data service that’s even more reliable than voice.

So as I write this, I’m wondering when the obvious next step will happen, with that LTE network enabled for VoIP over LTE (VoLTE). Yes, there are some kluge apps that can do this now, but the network really isn’t yet set up to handle key issues such as reliable hand-off, as one moves from one cell to the next.

But I’m confident, having written about technology for decades, that it’s only a matter of time now before my LTE phone starts functioning as a two-way digital extension off the virtual switchboard of my account.

Meanwhile, by the time you’ve read this, I expect to have ordered a phone case that has a decent chance of surviving a parking lot accident.


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