CELLPHONES are part of the Soundtrack of Every Day Communication.

Cellphones are there to establish a voice communication when and wherever you are. You can then keep in touch with family and friends.

While RVing, either for a short trip or as a fulltimer, the access to a phone communication is desirable and considered by most essential, if only for reassurance in case of emergency.

Since we can not have a fixed phone line while being on the road, cellphones are obviously the primary tools of communication.

I am sure that most of you already have a cellular phone. As you know, cellphones are electronic devices used for a variety of purposes.

Their basic purpose is to make and receive telephone calls to and from the public telephone network which includes other mobiles and fixed phone lines around the world.

It does this by connecting to a cellular network of base stations, owned by a mobile network operator.

While RVing, the cellphones allow us to keep in touch with family members, to conduct business on the road, to have access to a telephone in the event of an emergency, and to provide entertainment.

Low-end cellphones are often referred to as feature phones, whereas high-end cellphones that offer more advanced computing ability are referred to as smartphones.

If you already own a mobile phone, just review your plan with your network operator so you can adapt it to your RV travel needs.

Verify that your cellular phone functions fully at your planned destinations. You may decide to change your network carrier if it is not the case.

You need some sort of a nationwide service so that long distance charges will be reasonable.



The common components found on all cellular phones are:


  • basic mobile phone service and text messaging
  • a rechargeable battery providing the power source for the phone functions
  • an input mechanism and display to allow the user to interact with the phone (a keypad or touch screen in high-end smartphones)
  • the capability of seamless telephone calls even when the user is moving around wide areas via a process known as handoff or handover.



In addition to telephone and instant messaging, modern cellphones support many additional services and accessories.

This includes such things as: GPS navigation , music and video playback, radio receiver, alarms, memo recording, personal digital assistant functions, ability to watch streaming video...

video download, built-in cameras and camcorders with autofocus and flash, ringtones, games, memory card reader, USB, dual line support, infrared, Bluetooth and WiFi connectivity, Internet e-mail and browsing and serving as a wireless modem.

Wow! All these features in such a little device!

Manufacturers try to differentiate their own products by implementing additional functions to make them more attractive to consumers.

This has led to great innovations, the Iphones from Apple being an example. Several phone series have been introduced to address a given market segment, as is the case for the BlackBerry focusing on enterprise/corporate customer e-mail needs.

A cellular phone normally operates within a range of 20 to 30 miles from a tower with a 0.25 to 0.6 watt signal. If you increase the output of that signal to 3 watts (the limit by law to boost mobile phones), your cellular range will be larger.

This is what a signal booster does and it is very worthwhile to have one in your RV.

The smooth talker is one model. The manufacturer claims that it will increase the "reception and transmission range up to 60 miles".

Realistically, it can be a bit less depending on the terrain, i.e. trees, mountains, other obstacles.

A roof-mounted wattage antenna booster is an excellent idea and almost essential when you call from inside your RV. The metal cage of your rig acts as a signal stopper.

But to use an antenna and amplifier, you must have a phone that has an external antenna connector.

The Wilson antennas and amplifiers are very popular among RVers.

The products offer by Cyfre and Maximum signal are excellent as well.

Having a GPS receiver installed in mobile phones could be a life-saver in case of medical emergency.

Dialing 911 automatically transmits the GPS coordinates in latitude and longitude of your location to the 911 operator. This can literally save your life.

It is useful to upgrade to a national plan to avoid roaming charges while you travel. National plans are normally contracts signed for a duration of 2 to 3 years.

The provider may offer the cellular phone free or at very low cost with a contract. If you have seldom need for a cell phone (emergency only), another option is a 'Go Phone'. No contract involved.

You simply buy one among Verizon cellphones or from AT&T and buy blocks of air-time minutes. Wall-Mart sells these phones as well. For $35, you may get the phone with 300 minutes of talk time.

You can buy pre-paid cards later for more minute blocks.

In the States, a service like Net 10 will provide national coverage for 10 cents a minute and you purchase more time online on the web entering a code provided.



A PHONE CALLING CARD:

Calling cards can be the ideal complement to a cell phone when you are outside cell coverage or when calling long distance.

However before choosing a phone card, read the small print because each plan has hidden fees that unfortunately always seem to apply whatever the circumstance.

The calling cards can be bought in various retail locations (grocery stores, 7-Eleven, etc...) Look for a company where refills are available online. Some websites compare available options for you.

Check these websites of companies offering phone cards:


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