updated 02:40 pm EST, Fri February 8, 2008
Analog Cell Service Ending
After decades in service, analog cellular networks in the US will ramp down later this month but may cause problems in the process, says a new report. FCC officials have granted both AT&T and Verizon permission to shut down their last AMPS (Advanced Mobile Phone System) networks on February 18th, leaving strictly digital calls through either CDMA or GSM networks. AT&T will also shut down its very early TDMA (Time Division Multiplex Access) digital network at the same time. For phone use, the impact is predicted to be minimal as less than one percent of either AT&T or Verizon's customers rely on the older standards.
The cutoff may nonetheless impact other modern devices such as GM's OnStar systems, however. About 10 percent of drivers using the emergency and recommendation service will lose access to the network when AMPS goes offline. Some home alarm systems that use cellular connections to alert the police also depend on analog calls. None of the carriers or product manufacturers have detailed plans to migrate these customers, although many note that only first-run cars and alarm systems are likely to suffer the sudden halt to service.
AMPS was first installed in the 1980s across the US and has continued to be used for electrical equipment and other legacy networks until today.