Cellular Phones Coming In

San Francisco Business Magazine; Jan. 1994

Expect improved service from your cellular phone with the introduction of digital cellular service by Cellular One. By converting voice signals into the computer codes of ones and zeroes, three times as many calls can be transmitted over cellular radio frequencies. The result will be clear sound, no static, fewer dropped calls, a longer phone battery life and more privacy.

Although the new digital phones cost about $500, $300 more than the standard cellular phone (which transmits sound waves like a radio), Cellular One promises the new technology will save users 10 percent off their current rates. "Digital technology triples the capacity of our system, which mean less investment per subscriber," says Alan Brune, the company's vice president of marketing and strategic planning.

The only other areas in the US offering digital cellular service are Los Angeles, Florida, Chicago and the Pacific Northwest. Look for local service along major highway corridors around San Francisco and San Jose, the San Francisco financial district and near San Jose where highways 280 and 880 intersect.

Cellular One, the only provider of digital service in the Bay Area, says the new phones will eventually include pagers and, because you can expect more calls with improved service, a screening feature that will allow you to designate different rings to different callers.

If you're groaning because you just bought a standard cellular phone, no need to worry, according to Lee Dorfman, whose company, Action Cellular Rent a Phone in San Francisco, rents cellular phones to such famous names as Mikhail Gorbachev, Nelson Mandela, Al Gore and Paul McCartney when they're in town. Dorfman says he thinks the total switch to digital won't happen for years if at all. "The Bay Area is oriented to technological advancements, but I don't think there's an urgency for small businesses to switch to digital anytime soon." Says Dorfman.

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