Published Works,  Technology Column

Tech 47

Tech May 11, 1998

Who’s got a handle on the difference between Cellular and Digital phone service? If you go to a technician, you may learn all about the fascinating world of analog. That’s the traditional method of modulating radio signals so that they can carry information. Yawn. Analog comes in two flavors – AM and FM – but you can just call it radio. The other approach is Digital Modulation. It’s roughly the same principal, except the information is transmitted in binary code ‑ the zeros and ones of computer language. It’s the like the difference between old vinyl recordings and the present-day CD. Yawn. Like I said – who has a handle on this thing? Donna Worrell.

Worrell owns Cellular World Limited in Virginia Beach. Which sounds better? “Well, you can’t beat a Digital phone for being clear – but you can’t go out of town with one either.” Worrell told me. “See, it’s like when Cellular first started. As more relay stations were built you got less static and fewer dropped calls. Digital is still pretty new – so the coverage is not as complete – but just give them a couple of years. The digital guys are putting up more towers every day.” Does one have an advantage over the other? Worrell says “Cellular is the way to go if you ever need the phone with you outside of your hometown area. But what it comes down to is price.”

I didn’t realize it was a Gen X thing. “Mostly because the digital guys have a good pre-pay plan.” Worrell explained. “You come in, buy a phone and put up a small deposit and you walk out with a working phone. Most of our digital customers are 18 to 24″ Worrell told me.  “Just compare pricing plans and take the one best for you – after that, it’s all close enough.” She added.  And what is the future of portable?  “Smaller and cheaper.” Worrel said without missing a beat. “And the best thing for all of us is that there are new companies trying to get our business. They fight it out by giving better and better deals.  I love that.” I do too!