WHEN IN ROAM...
I read somewhere that it is possible for
mobile phone users in the UK to use their phones in the United States. However,
I would like to know if it works the other way around. In September a US
colleague is coming to work in our office for three months. I have been given the job of renting him a
car, with a phone, unless thereís some way of getting his own mobile phone to
work, when heís here?
C.R. Loxley, Westminster
British cellular phones -- analogue and digital
-- do not work on US networks, which use the AMPS system. The opposite is true,
and AMPS phones will not work here. What youíve probably seen is the services
being offered by Cellnet and Vodaphone, whereby visitors to the US hire a phone
when they get there, calls to their UK cellphone number are routed through to
the US number. As far as weíre aware there are no reciprocal agreements with US
mobile phone networks, for visitors to the UK.
Do you know of any mobile phone car kits for
a Motorola 7500, that can be connected to a vehicle alarm? I occasionally
forget to take the phone with me, when I park the car and Iím worried about it
Stuart Duncan, Southend
Some car kits have such a facility, but even
if it were obvious the phone was connected to an alarm, it would be unlikely to
discourage the average car-thief. Leaving a mobile phone in your car, in full
view, is simply asking for trouble!
Much has been written about the potential
dangers of the high-frequency radiation emitted by mobile phones, but what
happens when theyíre used in a car? I imagine that the radio waves must bounce
off the metal roof, doors and floor, in much the same way as a microwave oven.
Are we cooking ourselves every time we us the phone, or it no more than a light
Philip Culver, Barnsley, Yorkshire.
Hopefully neither. Microwave emissions from
mobile phones are at a very low level and the energy contained in the signal
follows the inverse square law. That means that any heating effect -- and itís
only barely detectable with the most sensitive instruments -- tails off rapidly
more than a couple of centimetres from the antenna. In any case, car kits with
connections for an external aerial, channel the RF energy out of the vehicle
and into the antenna.
I recently upgraded from a Motorola Micro TAC
analogue mobile phone to a new 7500 GSM digital model. I chose this one -- even though it was being
discontinued -- because it fitted my existing car kit. I have to say that Iím
far from impressed by the quality of the digital networks (I subscribe to
Cellnet). I have found that the coverage is not as good as my old analogue
phone, calls drop out more frequently, and I get a lot of strange noises.
Should I have stayed with my faithful old Micro TAC?
Lee Denton, Wrexham
Digital coverage in your area can be a bit
patchy, but itís more likely that
fundamental differences in the way the two systems work is causing the
problem. Itís often possible to hold a conversation with a weak analogue
signal, it might be noisy, but you can still make yourself heard, even if it
means shouting. Digital equipment is not so tolerant. When the signal is poor
or intermittent the line will be dropped; marginal signals often produce
so-called Ďartefactsí that make you sound like a Dalek. On the other hand, in
areas of good coverage digital phones work very well indeed, moreover most
networks offer a number of additional facilities, and data services, that are
not possible on the analogue system. The analogue networks are due to be phased
out in the next few years, maybe you should re-connect if digital coverage --
or rather the lack of it -- is causing a problem. Before you do, though, have
your car kit checked out, and may consider a better antenna, especially if
youíre using a Ďlossyí glass-mount type.
MICKEY MOUSE PHONE
The kids have persuaded the wife and me to
spend a week at Euro Disney in the Summer. Weíre going by ferry and will be
driving to Paris. Iím self-employed and cannot afford to be out of touch so I
need to know if my mobile phone will work on the journey, and when we get
there? At what point will I have to change over to a French network? My phone
is a Nokia 2110 and Iím connected to Cellnet Digital.
You may find coverage is a bit flaky
mid-Channel. The phone should automatically register with France Telecom as
soon as it looses the Cellnet signal. If not swich it off, then back on again
once youíre in France. You should experience no problems along the Autoroutes
and in the park itself. Before you go remember to check with your service
provider that thereís no bar on international calls, read up on the
instructions for making outgoing calls and donít forget the mains charger and a
spare battery. Have fun!
I really canít agree with the fuss concerning
using a mobile phone in a car. I admit itís probably not a good idea around
town, but itís perfectly safe on motorways, when you donít need two hands on
the wheel all the time, and certainly nor more dangerous than changing stations
or loading a tape in the stereo. How can they ban it? What about taxis with
radios, not to mention organisations like the AA and RAC who also use two-way
radios with hand-held microphones?
Geoffrey Higgins, Lamberhurst, Kent
If the Government goes ahead and makes
car-phones illegal, how will the police be able to tell when someone is using a
hands-free model? Are they going to pull over anyone seen talking to
themselves, or any car fitted with a radio aerial? I donít think so, itís about
time someone thought this daft law through properly.
M.S. Seeney, Norwich, Norfolk
I speak both as a mobile phone owner, and as
someone who has been involved in a accident with a driver using a mobile phone.
Any new laws designed to curb the use of mobile phone use need to drafted very
carefully, and not to outlaw the use of hands-free systems. They are no more
dangerous to use than any other piece of equipment in a car, though I would
make two suggestions, to improve safety even further. Firstly all car-phones should
have a radio mute facility by law, so the car stereo is switched off as soon as
the phone rings, and secondly, it should not be possible to dial out, whilst
the car is moving.
Jill Parsons, Brighton, E. Sussex
As yet using a mobile phone in a moving car
does not constitute an offence, unless it can be shown that it reduces the
driverís ability to control their vehicle. There is growing pressure on the
Government to introduce legislation, this is an important issue, your views and
suggestions are very welcome and we fully intend to contribute to the debate
thatís likely to ensue in the coming months.
” R. Maybury 1997 1206