The most common example of a cellular network is a mobile phone (cell phone) network. A mobile phone is a portable telephone which receives or makes calls through a cell site (base station), or transmitting tower. Radio waves are used to transfer signals to and from the cell phone.
Modern mobile phone networks use cells because radio frequencies are a limited, shared resource. Cell-sites and handsets change frequency under computer control and use low power transmitters so that the usually limited number of radio frequencies can be simultaneously used by many callers with less interference.
A cellular network is used by the mobile phone operator to achieve both coverage and capacity for their subscribers. Large geographic areas are split into smaller cells to avoid line-of-sight signal loss and to support a large number of active phones in that area. All of the cell sites are connected to telephone exchanges (or switches), which in turn connect to the public telephone network.
In cities, each cell site may have a range of up to approximately 1⁄2 mile (0.80 km), while in rural areas, the range could be as much as 5 miles (8.0 km). It is possible that in clear open areas, a user may receive signals from a cell site 25 miles (40 km) away.
Since almost all mobile phones use cellular technology, including GSM, CDMA, and AMPS (analog), the term “cell phone” is in some regions, notably the US, used interchangeably with “mobile phone”. However, satellite phones are mobile phones that do not communicate directly with a ground-based cellular tower, but may do so indirectly by way of a satellite.
There are a number of different digital cellular technologies, including: Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM), General Packet Radio Service (GPRS),cdmaOne, CDMA2000
Evolution-Data Optimized (EV-DO), Enhanced Data Rates for GSM Evolution (EDGE), Universal Mobile Telecommunications System (UMTS),Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications (DECT), Digital AMPS (IS-136/TDMA), and Integrated Digital Enhanced Network (iDEN). The transition from existing analog to the digital standard followed a very different path in Europe and the US. As a consequence multiple digital standard surfaced in the US, while Europe and many countries converged towards the GSM standard