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Analog Cellular Shutdown To Hit Built-In Devices

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the can't-hear-you-now dept.

Cellphones 173

Nick Kilkenny sends us an AP article on the imminent shutdown of the US analog cellular network, now 24 years old. The network is scheduled to go dark on Feb. 18, 2008; some users, such as OnStar, are stopping analog service at the end of this year. Here's a list of devices and industries that will be affected by the shutdown. (Cellular telephony won't be affected much.) "The shutdown date has been known years in advance, but some industries appear to have a had a problem updating their technologies and informing their customers in advance... General Motors Corp., which owns OnStar, started modifying its cars after the 2002 decision by the Federal Communications Commission to let the network die, but some cars made as late as 2005 can't use digital networks for OnStar, nor can they be upgraded. For some cars made in the intervening years, GM provides digital upgrades for $15." Update: 12/22 22:25 GMT by KD : Replaced two registration-required links.

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OnStar (0)

wikinerd (809585) | more than 6 years ago | (#21793340)

OnStar

Who wants it anyway? I don't know a lot about this system, though, and maybe I'm missing something, but I see it like a spy in your car. Can someone tell me why some non-business drivers may want this stuff?

Re:OnStar (1)

yincrash (854885) | more than 6 years ago | (#21793352)

In case you lock your keys in the car or you need a tow?

Re:OnStar (0, Flamebait)

wikinerd (809585) | more than 6 years ago | (#21793716)

In case you lock your keys in the car

So, in case I lock my home keys in my home, I'm going to pay a monthly fee to a megacorp to let them unlock it for me, and just in case something bad happens I also let them keep an eye in my home and put an implant in my hand to know where I am.

Geez. I see where society is heading.

Re:OnStar (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21793948)

Yeah, paying for convenience, how ABSURD!

Some people have disposable income, and they like to spend it on things that give them less to worry about. Onstar is nothing more than another form of insurance. You dont want it? Don't buy it. But your contempt for people who do pay for the service is immature.

Re:OnStar (5, Informative)

tacocat (527354) | more than 6 years ago | (#21793998)

Here we go again ladies and ladies. Strap on your aluminum boxers and hide in the basement. Mega-Corp is coming to get you again!!!

I'm so tired of hearing about all this ignorant spew about how evil all this technology is. So I'll just recap what's already been posted a hundred times about OnStar.

  • It won't make you sterile.
  • It won't put banner ads on the top of your windshield while you are driving.
  • It can unlock your car if you want to.
  • It won't call the mothership and tell Big Brother were you are.
  • It will call OnStar as a 911 Emergency Service call if you activate your airbag via tree or some other appropriate activity (and have OnStar service).
  • Once it is deactivated by Onstar (or you can rip it out of the car if you want) it cannot do any of the following:
    1. Call the mothership and tell Big Brother where you are. (Trick question -- it didn't before)
    2. unlock your doors.
    3. Cause you to go sterile -- that's your own problem. (Again, a trick question)
    4. It will let you quietly die in a serious accident because it doesn't work anymore.
    5. In fact, if you know anything about cellular telephony -- it will not register or accept pages after deactivation.

Despite all of these facts being repeated over and over I know that only 0.0001% of the aluminum boxer fan club will take any heed of this information. So kudo's to the one person who thinks.

Now, even though I work at GM/OnStar I should probably state that my opinions are statements are not necessarily a reflection of the opinions of GM/Onstar and as such GM/OnStar can not be held liable for anything I say, real or imagined, factual or fantasy.

So -- I can call you a jerk and get away with it. But I'm only going to call you a jerk after to slam me for working at GM/OnStar and that I'm obviously lying to keep the capitalistic pig corporations afloat despite all the evil things they do to babies and little furry animals. I only say this because I know someone will do just that in the next ten minutes. It happens every time.

Unfortunately, those who run around screaming such falsehoods do more damage for the cause of privacy and personal empowerment than they know -- for they appear as jerks and makes everyone else who says anything about privacy that much easier to dismiss.

Re:OnStar (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21794444)

> It won't put banner ads on the top of your windshield while you are driving.
>(...)
> I work at GM/OnStar

Most of your points are all well and good -- I'm not in OnStar's target market, but you addressed the tinfoilers pretty nicely. But... dude... seriously. There are some ideas that didn't need to be thought up. And that was one of them. And you just thought it. Worse, you posted it publicly to a website. Now, please, please, please swear to all of us that you'll never utter that phrase, even in jest, among your co-workers. Banner ads on an automotive heads-up display is an idea so infuriatingly intrusive, dumb, and annoying that you have a moral obligation to prevent the guys in marketing from ever hearing of it, because you know goddamn well what'll happen if they do.

Re:OnStar (3, Informative)

KillerBob (217953) | more than 6 years ago | (#21793374)

Who wants it anyway? I don't know a lot about this system, though, and maybe I'm missing something, but I see it like a spy in your car. Can someone tell me why some non-business drivers may want this stuff?

Roadside assistance. Remote entry (in case you lock your keys inside). Directions (GPS locator). Automatic 911 activation in the event of an accident. Car diagnostics. There's more.

There's a number of things the service offers that would be very useful to the average user. *shrugs* But it's worth pointing out that the $15 digital upgrade is a discounted price... the actual price is about $300, but you get it for $15 if you purchase a 1-year subscription to the OnStar service, at a cost of $400.

Re:OnStar (1)

tacocat (527354) | more than 6 years ago | (#21794016)

I thought the one year cost was $200. $400 must be something special. Are you sure?

Re:OnStar (1)

KillerBob (217953) | more than 6 years ago | (#21794186)

$400 in Canada, where I'm based.... and that could have changed... I stopped working for the GM dealer a month after they hired me. Sucked royally. Working at a computer vendor now.

Re:OnStar (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#21793420)

Have you ever locked your keys in your car? Got lost and tried calling someone, only to discover they don't know where you're at either or you can't through to anyone?

As others pointed out, you get lockout assistance without ever calling a tow truck and directions from a real, live person via GPS tracking.

Also, if you get your car stolen, OnStar automatically notifies the police.

OnStar can also be used as a hands-free cellphone service.

Think of it as a combination of every gadget you could ever want for your car with the simplicity of a single-button user interface.

Re:OnStar (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 6 years ago | (#21793444)

Think of it as a combination of every gadget you could ever want for your car with the simplicity of a single-button user interface.

Gee, one could almost think of it as a four-wheeled Macintosh.

Re:OnStar (4, Funny)

Tony Hoyle (11698) | more than 6 years ago | (#21793466)

It's an iCar

Brilliant user interface, hailed as the best car ever. Inexplicably it has only one door, no reverse gear and the hood is welded shut.

Re:OnStar (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 6 years ago | (#21793548)

Have you ever locked your keys in your car? Got lost and tried calling someone, only to discover they don't know where you're at either or you can't through to anyone?

Nope, never happened to me.

I used to lock myself out of my call all the time when I was younger. I only did it once or twice when I was 16, and then I started carrying a backup key in my wallet. Never again was locking my keys in the car a problem. It still happens about once a year, perhaps. I just get the backup key out of my wallet and I'm back in.

This (Onstar's unlocking service) is a prime example of a Rube Goldberg solution to a simple problem.

As others pointed out, you get lockout assistance without ever calling a tow truck and directions from a real, live person via GPS tracking.

Or you could just get a GPS navigation system, which is available (or standard) on most higher-end cars now, and doesn't carry a monthly fee. Besides, "real, live" people on the phone are usually not very competent in my experience.

Also, if you get your car stolen, OnStar automatically notifies the police.

OnStar isn't going to magically know your car is stolen; you have to report it yourself. I already have a cellphone to do that, as do most people.

OnStar can also be used as a hands-free cellphone service.

Or you could use a normal cellphone, which isn't tied to your car. Plus, people don't have to call a different number when you're sitting in your car. If it actually tied into your existing phone, it'd be pretty cool, but no one needs a separate cell service; I would think most people would like having only one phone number. Requiring a different number for different locations is so last-century.

Think of it as a combination of every gadget you could ever want for your car with the simplicity of a single-button user interface.

Think of it as a poorly-implemented waste of money.

Re:OnStar (1)

Raven42rac (448205) | more than 6 years ago | (#21793594)

There's always another thing of doing things, this takes about 5 contingencies and wraps them into one device. I could see an argument from the big brother angle, but violently resisting an easier way of doing something? I'm sure they could figure out a way to bluetoothify it so you can use your own cell phone for hands free operation. You could also forward your calls, if you so desired, I'm sure.

Re:OnStar (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 6 years ago | (#21793670)

They could, but they haven't (AFAIK). I've definitely heard of other cars which do have built-in handsfree systems using Bluetooth to interoperate with your regular cellphone, and they don't charge a monthly fee.

Again, this OnStar thing is crap; it's giving you stuff you already have, at a monthly fee. I already pay enough monthly fees for things, and I pay much less than many others since I don't have cable TV, satellite TV, etc.

Re:OnStar (1)

Raven42rac (448205) | more than 6 years ago | (#21793694)

Most of the onstar features you never want to have to use, if that makes sense. But you'd probably be really glad you have them if you need them.

Re:OnStar (2, Insightful)

KillerCow (213458) | more than 6 years ago | (#21794226)

But you'd probably be really glad you have them if you need them.


Assuming a monthly service charge of 16.95$, over a 40 year driving period, if you saved that money at an 8% yearly yield compounded monthly, you would end up with $59,172.58 [math.com]

I'd be really glad to have that instead, and I could stand being locked out of my car or lost a couple of times to get it.

Re:OnStar (1)

WhatAmIDoingHere (742870) | more than 6 years ago | (#21794374)

How about when you're in an accident and knocked out? The Air-Bags deploying alert the staff at OnStar who give your location to emergency response folks. It's more than locking your keys in your car. A LOT more.

Re:OnStar (1)

Skater (41976) | more than 6 years ago | (#21794632)

Then don't get it. You can easily buy cars without OnStar. What's the problem?

Personally I wouldn't pay someone to change my oil, but plenty of people do. But, unlike you, I'm not sitting here starting a flamewar on /. about people that pay someone to change their oil.

Re:OnStar (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21793618)

and then I started carrying a backup key in my wallet.

Same here. My grandfather gave me that tip when I turned 16, and I've kept a spare door key in my wallet ever since. I've locked my keys in my car many times. Most recently yesterday evening. No problem, just pull out wallet, remove spare key, unlock door, in car.

No onstar, no onstar fees, no calling anyone, no worries about the shutdown of the analog cell system, just unlock door and put spare key back in wallet.

Sometimes, many times, the low tech solution is the best.

Re:OnStar (2, Insightful)

JustOK (667959) | more than 6 years ago | (#21793702)

Try that with some of the new keys.

Re:OnStar (1)

kannibal_klown (531544) | more than 6 years ago | (#21793714)

OnStar is with its merits, though not as major as they used to be. Between a decent GPS unit and a cellphone there's little need but they don't completely replace it.

The automatic 911 dialing can be a life saver. Sure, we all have cellphones but in an accident it's possible you'll be unconscious or otherwise too injured to get to your cellphone. Now as soon as the incident occurs you have someone asking if you're OK and able to send help to your coordinates.

The theft thing has its uses but is not that helpful if the thief knows what they're doing. It's easy to circumvent so pretty much any thief that knows what they're doing will not be caught. Unlike LoJak which hides the transmitter in different places in different cars I think all they need to do is disconnect the OnStar unit from the antenna.

The online diagnostics isn't too bad either. Once a month they check your sensors and stats and email them to you. Nothing major, but alright.

Re:OnStar (1)

amccaf1 (813772) | more than 6 years ago | (#21793770)

Think of it as a combination of every gadget you could ever want for your car with the simplicity of a single-button user interface.
Think of it as a poorly-implemented waste of money.
I tend to agree with you. However, there is one feature that seems pretty neat. If they detect your airbag deploying and they are unable to contact you, then they automatically alert emergency services.

That's the one part of OnStar I'd actually be interested in using... but they don't appear to offer only that service. You have to pay an outrageous amount of money to get all the other "features" that come bundled with it.

(And, of course, I can't find any information as to whether the service is any actual good or not. How much of a collision can the OnStar device itself stand? The only information I can find in a quick google search is OnStar's advertising or "reviews" which look to be quickly re-written OnStar press releases...)

Re:OnStar (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 6 years ago | (#21793816)

I tend to agree with you. However, there is one feature that seems pretty neat. If they detect your airbag deploying and they are unable to contact you, then they automatically alert emergency services.

That's the one part of OnStar I'd actually be interested in using... but they don't appear to offer only that service. You have to pay an outrageous amount of money to get all the other "features" that come bundled with it.


I agree; that can be a useful feature. But it's disgusting that they wrap it up with all that other stuff, then charge a fortune for it.

Re:OnStar (1)

tacocat (527354) | more than 6 years ago | (#21794120)

Well, if you are actually a customer then you might mention it to them. Otherwise I'm not sure that they'll here you.

Re:OnStar (2, Informative)

tacocat (527354) | more than 6 years ago | (#21794058)

Well... It's $200 a year for OnStar. I pay $100 a month for my cell phone, $90 a month for cable TV, $15 a month for TiVO, $15 a month for NetFlix. The question of paying about the same price for OnStar is as relevant as people who choose to purchase these other services. Suit yourself?

As for the airbag calling issue -- There have been a few cases where the unit doesn't fare too well -- but that's generally an accident of such severe nature that fatality is usually result regardless. I don't have the numbers in front of me, but is fairly safe to say that the OnStar hardware is more likely to make a call than your cell phone, even if you are able to use it and find it. Things get tossed around a lot in an accident -- personal experience.

biz (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21794376)

Sounds like you hit on a decent business opportunity there with the airbag notification or some other crashy-feature sensor. Offer some cheap after market add on gadget that can be installed easily by any of the aftermarket soundsystem guys in their shops (no need for your own shops therefore...) plus the service(an existing pager outfit, do they still exist??), and make it cheap enough that it appeals to a lot of people.

Re:biz (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21794584)

Hell of an idea, sir.

I tell you want. I will create the proposal and you come up with the science and actual technology. I can draw crude scientific looking sketches if that will help.

We cannot lose. Huzzah.

Really we could just use existing systems (bluetooth or something) and use a crash sensor that could record impacts and diagnostics. Send data to a center, have a program call for a response, and escalate issues to real service people (probably in Bangladesh.) The only thing is that we would need to make money somewhere. That is the trick. We cannot just have it call for everything. The emergency people would get mad. We would have to run the numbers so to speak and then make a decision.

Lets get together on this one and get some basics down. Hopefully we will be bought out by google before we have to prove anything.

Re:OnStar (1)

Skynyrd (25155) | more than 6 years ago | (#21793844)

I used to lock myself out of my call all the time when I was younger. I only did it once or twice when I was 16, and then I started carrying a backup key in my wallet. Never again was locking my keys in the car a problem. It still happens about once a year, perhaps. I just get the backup key out of my wallet and I'm back in.

Here's hoping you never lose your wallet. Assuming your address is on your license, your pickpocket will have your address and a key to your car.

Re:OnStar (1)

jridley (9305) | more than 6 years ago | (#21794034)

Keypad entry. Best feature ever.
If I go to the beach or something I don't even carry my car keys with me, I just toss them under the seat and lock the car.
Normally I never lock my car anyway. I don't keep anything in my car, and you really can't reasonably steal a modern car with passive theft prevention, and vandalism just doesn't happen around here.

Re:OnStar (2, Funny)

gb506 (738638) | more than 6 years ago | (#21793892)

Reasonable Person: "we have this indoor toilet, it's a convenient way to eliminate waste, but there are small water and sewer costs..."

Grishnakh: "why would I want to pay water and sewer fees associated with an indoor toilet when I can just use my outhouse?"

And regarding the key in the wallet move, most car keys nowadays have integrated fob-type plastic bulbs that do not work well on your wallet. Unless, that is, you keep your wallet in one of those manpurse fannypack fagbag things, which I suspect could be a possibility. But after reading your post, I think it more likely that you're probably just too cheap to buy a vehicle manufactured within the past 15 or 20 years and wouldn't have had to deal with the fob-type keys. So just go upstairs and look at your mom's keys, you'll see what the rest of us use.

Re:OnStar (1)

Loconut1389 (455297) | more than 6 years ago | (#21793962)

Yeah, but your toilet doesn't say "Holy crap, this guy just flushed a bunch of Cocaine! POLICE!!!"

Re:OnStar (1)

mjpaci (33725) | more than 6 years ago | (#21793966)

+1 FUNNAY

Thanks for the laugh.

--Mike

Re:OnStar (1)

tchuladdiass (174342) | more than 6 years ago | (#21794082)

Actually, that fob is only on the OEM keys, and is only needed for starting the car (assuming it has an anti-theft chip in it). A cheap copy made at the hardware store works fine for the door, and is flat. Also, they make plastic credit-card shaped spare keys where the key folds out from the plastic card. Made for the wallet.

Re:OnStar (1)

networkBoy (774728) | more than 6 years ago | (#21794510)

I have yet to find a hardware store that can copy my keys...
The down side of high security laser cut keys :-(

Re:OnStar (1)

Bartab (233395) | more than 6 years ago | (#21793832)

Have you ever locked your keys in your car?

In the age of key-dongles, do people really lock themselves out anymore?

I used to lock myself out once a year or so, but not once since I bought a car with a remote entry dongle. For the same reason I don't lock myself out of my house. There's no way to lock the door without the keys, at least not the way I habitually lock the door.

Re:OnStar (1)

ErikZ (55491) | more than 6 years ago | (#21794090)

Take key out of ignition
open door and lock it out of habit.
Put down keys, pick up groceries in the back seat.
Shut doors.

Hey look. Keys are locked in the car.

Re:OnStar (1)

tacocat (527354) | more than 6 years ago | (#21794134)

Pick up brick.

Throw it at the window.

Problem solved.

Re:OnStar (1)

Reaperducer (871695) | more than 6 years ago | (#21794684)

No. You've just replaced one problem with another, more expensive, problem.

Re:OnStar (1)

Bartab (233395) | more than 6 years ago | (#21794156)

Thats the point, with a key-dongle your habit should not be to lock the door by hand. Mine, at least, will not lock the door if the door is open, thus making it impossible to lock the keys in without doing the old-time manual lock plus close-door-with-handle-open, which is most definitely not my habit so I'd never do it to accidentally lock my keys in.

Re:OnStar (1)

Firethorn (177587) | more than 6 years ago | (#21794182)

Please note:

There's no way to lock the door without the keys, at least not the way I habitually lock the door.

His actions: Take key out of ignition
Open door, put down keys, pick up groceries in the back seat.
Close doors.
Go to lock car using fob, realize keys are in back seat.

Keys not locked in the car.

Re:OnStar (1)

Reaperducer (871695) | more than 6 years ago | (#21794662)

In the age of key-dongles, do people really lock themselves out anymore?
Happened to me. The keys fell out of my jacket pocket on an airplane. By the time I got to my car in the parking lot -- no keys.

Re:OnStar (1)

Tony Hoyle (11698) | more than 6 years ago | (#21793874)

Have you ever locked your keys in your car?

Is that even *possible* on a modern car? On mine you need to use the zapper to lock it.. sure you can lock it from inside, but you have to open the door to get out...

I actually have a spare 'manual' key but have never used it. Even then I can't see a way of actually locking the door whilst the key is inside and I'm out.

Re:OnStar (1)

prshaw (712950) | more than 6 years ago | (#21794378)

Yes it is possible.

Leave the truck running, climb out, hit the power lock button on the door while you close it.

Or maybe it was just the door slamming shut that triggered the lock button.

But anyway, been there, done that. Probably took about an hour to get the spare key to get back into it.

Now when I get out of the truck with the engine running I hit the button to roll the window down.

Re:OnStar (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21793504)

The impression I get from the commercials for On-Star is that it is marketed at pansies.

Since you can't take care of yourself, pay us money and we'll take care of you for you. (also, we get any other ancillary benefits from the thing)

Re:OnStar (1)

WhatAmIDoingHere (742870) | more than 6 years ago | (#21794344)

Directions. Calling ahead for reservations. Booking hotel rooms. You have a personal assistant for a couple bucks a month.

graceful degradation (1)

jacquesm (154384) | more than 6 years ago | (#21793360)

is the one saving grace of analog, but in real life tests apparently the GSM technology still outperforms analog in terms of range, so even that one may not be holding... I think that analog is coming to an end in all communications fields, it will soon be the exclusive domain of HAM radio operators again.

Why (1)

Snorpus (566772) | more than 6 years ago | (#21793426)

Why do people insist on capitalizing "ham", as if it were an acronym? It's just a nickname, if you will, for amateur radio operator. You don't see GEEK, or NERD, or QUILTER.

Re:Why (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21793492)

Actually HAM is an acroynmn. In the case of "HAM radio operators" it stands for Hairy Ass Male

Re:Why (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21793498)

You don't see GEEK, or NERD, or QUILTER.


perhaps not, but you do see MORON. Just look in the mirror

Re:Why (0, Troll)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 6 years ago | (#21793554)

You don't see GEEK,
General Electrical Engineering Knowledge

or NERD,
Not Even Remotely Dorky
Nobody Ever Really Dies
Not Enough Real Daylight
Never-Ending Radical Dude
Network Emergency Repair Dude/Diva
Network Event Recording Device
New England Repeater Directory
National Engineering Research and Development
National Energy Research Database
Network Enabled Refrigeration Device
Never Ending Resplendent Discussion

or QUILTER.
OK, you win that one.

Re:Why (5, Funny)

nacturation (646836) | more than 6 years ago | (#21793852)

or QUILTER.
OK, you win that one.
QUILTER stands for Quilter Uses Iterative Language To Employ Recursion.
 

Re:Why (1)

jacquesm (154384) | more than 6 years ago | (#21793614)

Well, because otherwise they might think it refers to pig meat ? Maybe we should get rid of capital letters altogether :)

I humbly apologize and will never use HAM again but will in the future refer to 'persons that have amateur radio communications as their hobby' ;)

Re:Why (1)

scottv67 (731709) | more than 6 years ago | (#21793682)

Well, because otherwise they might think it refers to pig meat ?

I agree with you. Uppercase "HAM" is for radio operators and lowercase "ham" is for little piggies. The only time someone should use "ham radio" is this site:

http://1029thehog.com/ [1029thehog.com]

Re:Why (1)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 6 years ago | (#21794636)

Don't worry. I've ranted about it before:

OS\X? I'm sorry, but I have a hard time taking seriously most posts that misspell or miscapitalize the common topic of their point. And to people who spent a lot of time working with the stuff it's like reading a post that confuses 'loose' and 'lose' or 'whose' and 'who's'

It's been out for 6 years now at no point have I ever seen it referred to as OS\X. In the same manner It's not Windows\XP or X\P or ViSTA. They're not MACS or MACs or MaCs. It's not an IPOD or an Ipod or an iPOD. FreeBSD is just that, not FREEBsd or FREEBSD or FreEBsD.

Shut off GSM too! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21793794)

GSM is a dinosaur too that is holding back progress. It should be shutdown too, but providers are too heavily invested in it.

Chicago Tribune link not working? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21793378)

The link in "devices and industries" (http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/chi-cellularbox_webdec21,1,6636807.story?ctrack=1&cset=true) seems to want registration or summat.

No-reg link for the "what's affected article" (4, Informative)

Coopjust (872796) | more than 6 years ago | (#21793406)

Re:No-reg link for the "what's affected article" (1)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 6 years ago | (#21793586)

Nope, still asks me to register. The link in the article has been updated though, but no breakdown by model.

I'd just like to know if my old Motorola v60 I gave my mother is one that's will need replacing.

Re:No-reg link for the "what's affected article" (1)

Klinky (636952) | more than 6 years ago | (#21794198)

There have been thousands of models of cell phones out there and they vary by manufacturer. The Motorola V60 has many many different incarnations(V60c,V60t,V60g,V60v,V60i,V60x,V60p & V60s). Do you really expect a news article to list everyone make/model of every phone ever made and tell you if it's analog or not? Terribly silly notion. The V60 is a digital phone. The phone will only be affected based on what services your mother's carrier is offering. As the article states some carriers are phasing out TDMA coverage. However the V60 came in CDMA & GSM formats as well. So it really depends on what service your mother is using. If it's Sprint then probably nothing to worry about as CDMA isn't going anywhere. If she's got T-Mobile it's probably GSM, which is fine as well. If it's AT&T then it could be TDMA(which they are phasing out in many areas, but it depends so call) or GSM. Really the only person who can really figure it out is you yourself by calling the carrier or you can just wait for the day that it stops working :)!

Crap (2, Informative)

Dan East (318230) | more than 6 years ago | (#21793416)

Crap. There goes the entertainment value of my scanner that can receive 800-900 MHz.

Dan East

Re:Crap (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#21793434)

Look on the bright side: it still works for older cordless phones. :)

I imagine parts of this spectrum will be auctioned off at some point.

Re:Crap (1)

Gordonjcp (186804) | more than 6 years ago | (#21793544)

In the rest of the world, it's been used for digital mobile phones for about a decade.

Re:Crap (1)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 6 years ago | (#21794358)

Apparently you didn't take geography - the US is bigger and so has more frequencies to waste. Canada and Russia, perversely, have way more frequency channels than they can use, due to their large land masses. China had a lot of frequencies, but lost them when they built the three gorges dam.

Re:Crap (1)

xcfmx (25409) | more than 6 years ago | (#21794148)

fixed your post...

I imagine parts of this spectrum will belong to Google at some point.

Not So Redundant? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21793438)

There are some uses for analog that we will no longer be able to use that digital cant replace, so I'm wondering if this is such a great idea or if we could maintain some coverage like Sweden does for particular applications? [dwarfurl.com] [wikipedia.org]

Goodbuy car and brick phones (3, Interesting)

zakezuke (229119) | more than 6 years ago | (#21793448)


The main reason I disapprove of this closure is the existence of 3 watt car phones to which there was NEVER any digital replacement. These are ideal for backwoods environments. Looks like there are boosters but still it's a bit of a hassle.

I also wonder what will happen to roadside call boxes. Were these AMPS?

Re:Goodbuy car and brick phones (5, Interesting)

sortius_nod (1080919) | more than 6 years ago | (#21793538)

We had a massive incident here in Australia where a plane came down in the bush, noone for 100's of kms. The pilot had both analog and digital mobiles. The unfortunate thing was that he had no digital coverage and the closest analog tower had been shut down. Pilot & passangers all died from exposure and it came out that if the analog tower was active they could have made a call to get help.

The digital tower had actually taken the spot of the analog tower. This gave us another few years of analog and a dodgy attempt to get the same range as analog out of digital (Telstra call it Next-G, but it's just 3.5g with a massive boosting system). The solution definately doesn't work, not when techs in the bush call me saying "I used to be able to call anyone from within the server room here, now I can't... *dropout* et *dropout*... *click*".

Re:Goodbuy car and brick phones (1)

FudRucker (866063) | more than 6 years ago | (#21793746)

they should have kept a portable HF radio, S.G.C.'s SG2020 would make a great one...

Re:Goodbuy car and brick phones (4, Informative)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 6 years ago | (#21793830)

It's easy in your story to put blame on the carrier. Not their fault though. If you're going to be flying somewhere and you're not absolutely sure of the coverage (and you're flying in fairly undeveloped areas), you need to get one of two things:

1) An iridium phone. They're not too expensive compared to other aircraft avionics. They work almost anywhere in the world. And you can get prepaid versions if you don't want a huge monthly fee.

2) An ELT. http://www.sportys.com/acb/showdetl.cfm?DID=19&Product_ID=7279 [sportys.com]

This satellite PLB is the smallest, most functional emergency transmitter available. In an emergency, it could quite simply save your life. It transmits on 406 MHz via the COSPAS-SARSAT satellite system with a registered unique, digitally encoded distress signal and 121.5 MHz homing frequency. Plus, onboard GPS acquires LAT/LON when the unit is activated, meaning search and rescue crews will know your location within 100 meters. It is unaffected by terrain, obstructions or weather, and works anywhere in the world. It is also buoyant and totally waterproof. Weighs just 12 oz. and measures 1 3/4"d x 5 3/4"h x 3"w. Powered by two lithium-ion batteries.

Yes, these two items are expensive. But no more then an annual on your plane or the radio equipment onboard. Blame rests solely on the pilot for the safety of himself and those who he/she carries.

Re:Goodbuy car and brick phones (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21794654)

"In particular, check phones that are kept around as 911-only phones. Such phones, which don't have a phone number and aren't initialized with a carrier, were given out by some donation programs that collected old phones."

As usual, the people who can least afford to lose something will be losing something in this digital switchover.

People in emergency situations that we can't even think of are going to be affected. Later on we can look back and pinpoint why those people had to die, but all in all unless it was someone important or very wealthy, everyone will just move on to the next story. Then until all the people who relied on analog are either dead or someone helped them switch over to digital, we will get the story here and there of how eliminating analog channels helped kill off more people.

Re:Goodbuy car and brick phones (1)

realjd (1125323) | more than 6 years ago | (#21793540)

In Florida, the call boxes are beacons only. There is a gas button, a tow button, a police button, and a medical button. You push it, it emits a signal which is received by the DOT. They dispatch whoever is necessary. It doesn't use the cellular network at all. There was one road that they put actual voice call boxes on as a trial (SR528 outside of Orlando). They removed those last month because of the analog shutdown. They removed them rather than upgrade them because apparently they only got a handful of activations per year.

Re:Goodbuy car and brick phones (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21793590)

Bag phones are still made, and are in digital. link here : http://cellphones.about.com/od/motorola/a/prmot_m800m.htm [about.com]

Motorola m800

Re:Goodbuy car and brick phones (1)

zakezuke (229119) | more than 6 years ago | (#21793914)

Bag phones are still made, and are in digital. link here : http://cellphones.about.com/od/motorola/a/prmot_m800m.htm [about.com]

Motorola m800
That's cool! CDMA only but thanks for the update.

GSM would be better, but at least Motorola recognizes a highly useful item.

Re:Goodbuy car and brick phones (1)

tacocat (527354) | more than 6 years ago | (#21794104)

I wonder if GSM is better than CDMA or not. I haven't been able to find anything decisive about this.

At one point there was a lot of talk about how GSM was insecure and everyone could hack it. But that was maybe 8 years ago. Considering that every other country does GSM it seems to me that GSM might just have an advantage that CDMA carriers aren't telling us about.

Re:Goodbuy car and brick phones (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21794238)

Motorola does also make the M900. It is similar to the M800, but GSM instead of CDMA. Note, though, GSM has a hard limit of about 23.5 miles from the cell site, so all the power in the world won't get your call through if you're further away than that. (GSM uses time slots, and a timing adjust value to adjust for the speed-of-light delay and make sure your phone's transmissions stay within it's timeslot -- that timing adjust value maxes out at 23.5 miles or so.)

creators' big flash to disempower evile (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21793462)

no gadgets required.

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gov. bush denies health care for the little ones

http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/10/03/bush.veto/index.html [cnn.com]

whilst demanding/extorting billions to paint more targets on the bigger kids

http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/12/12/bush.war.funding/index.html [cnn.com]

all is not lost/forgotten/forgiven

  (yOUR elected) president al gore (deciding not to wait for the much anticipated 'lonesome al answers yOUR questions' interview here on/.) continues to attempt to shed some light on yOUR foibles;

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List of services affected (2, Insightful)

kbahey (102895) | more than 6 years ago | (#21793510)

The list of affected services is on a registration required site.

Here is a link from Associated Press [google.com] that does not need registration.

Not only OnStar (4, Insightful)

kent_eh (543303) | more than 6 years ago | (#21793512)

When my employer (a cell company who shall not be named) killed off our analog system we sent out notices to all analog subscribers over a year in advance.
And 6 months in advance.
And each month for the last 3 months.
2 weeks before shutdown one customer, an alarm company, threatened to sue us to keep it on the air because they hadn't had enough advance warning to get their customers' installations upgraded.

Apparently they didn't believe we would actually do it.


And, yes it is worth shutting it down. The power savings alone were significant. Rack space and floor space as well.
It also freed up a lot of spectrum for re-deployment for high speed data and other stuff that I'm not allowed to talk about yet.

Re:Not only OnStar (2, Informative)

Zadaz (950521) | more than 6 years ago | (#21793862)

In software one year is a very long time.

In hardware it can be the blink of an eye.

Posting a sign "Bridge out 100 ft ahead" is enough warning for a bicycle and most cars, but if I'm driving a freight train I'm fucked.

Re:Not only OnStar (1)

kent_eh (543303) | more than 6 years ago | (#21793960)

They had a year to say something. Instead, they sent a lawyer's "OMFG" letter 50 weeks after we told them what we were planning to do.

Re:Not only OnStar (1)

tacocat (527354) | more than 6 years ago | (#21794078)

When you consider the economics of the number of digital channels you can carry in an analog band and the amount of physical hardware space it's a no brainer.

Re:Not only OnStar (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21794616)

Details please. Names, places, times, links?

Upgrade OnStar to digital (0)

Skapare (16644) | more than 6 years ago | (#21793526)

So they say the old analog OnStar units cannot be upgraded to digital in certain cars. GM/OnStar should just replace the thing at their own expense for being so dumb. Corporations being dumb? Not a new concept.

Re:Upgrade OnStar to digital (1)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 6 years ago | (#21794520)

The summary says that they will switch you for $15 if you own a car that was built after the FCC announcement.

For cars built prior to the FCC decision, it probably made sense to stick with analog for coverage and compatibility reasons. At the time of the FCC decision, I still had a phone from Sprint with analog roaming, and it would be in analog roam a surprising amount of the time.

Analog networks in Europe are off the air (0, Troll)

jonfr (888673) | more than 6 years ago | (#21793536)

In Europe most analog networks are going off the air, the remaining networks are just NMT networks, emergency networks are all gone digital (cops and other like it). The last one is going go off in 2009, in Iceland. The NMT network in Sweden is going off the air 1 January, 2008. The NMT network in Iceland is going off the air in January 2009. The switch off is going to start in Iceland 2008.

The U.S appears to be far behind Europe in this respect. Since they still have there analog networks up and running and have problems moving to digital service.

Re:Analog networks in Europe are off the air (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21793674)

> The U.S appears to be far behind Europe in this respect.

"In this respect?" The US is technologically far behind Europe in *most* respects, not just that one. Go there sometime, and you'll realize how much of a technological backwater it is. The funny thing is, they don't seem to really care.

Re:Analog networks in Europe are off the air (1)

squiggleslash (241428) | more than 6 years ago | (#21793934)

Europe started off with a patchwork of different, incompatible, analog mobile phone networks that were replaced by a common digital standard (GSM.) The US started off with a single analog mobile phone standard, and then allowed operators to deploy whatever incompatible digital standards they choose. The result is that until the last few years, it was common to go into an area and find no operator running the digital standard your network used, with only AMPS available as a fall back.

So there was no real reason in Europe not to ditch the various analog networks as soon as GSM was deployed covering the same areas. Whereas, in the US, AMPS had to be kept around because there just wasn't any other standard that was truly national.

Re:Analog networks in Europe are off the air (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21794000)

"The U.S appears to be far behind Europe in this respect."

TFA says analog cellular in the US is going off the air in February, 2008. (Here in the US, I know Verizon, for one, has been decommissioning analog cell sites for years.) Sweden's is off the air in January, 2008, and Iceland's in 2009.

How does this put the US "far behind Europe"? The facts cited just don't seem to support the claim.

Busy Christmas re-shopping season. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21793600)

Looks like I can kiss my Zoom Telephonics 14.4c PCMCIA cellular modem good-bye.

Not to mention my Motorola v60 TDMA phone, since the TDMA band is being switched off too.

And my dad's Uniden carphone, we're gonna have to figure out what to do about that.

Rural Service? (1)

overeduc8ed (799654) | more than 6 years ago | (#21793992)

Isn't a more pressing consequence of analog termination the effective discontinuation of rural mobile phone service? Travel into the boonies away from an interstate, particularly west of the Mississippi, and digital service rapidly disappears. The article only skirts this issue by saying that OnStar's service map still depicts the analog coverage area, which extends into more remote areas. This became quite clear to me on a trip last week to the Mojave desert and Death Valley. My friend's car decided to give up just as we reached a remote corner of Death Valley, some 75 miles away from the last town with digital cell service. I once had a Verizon digital+analog phone for these situations, but of course, retired it recently. Luckily, a ranger came by fairly soon and was able to place an analog cell call to get us towed. But now these remote areas are going to be left without service, and all we hear about is that poor OnStar users who mostly never leave the city might be inconvenienced? From now on, I guess the only options will be satellite phones at $10/minute, or CB radio, or yodelling.

Re:Rural Service? (1)

tacocat (527354) | more than 6 years ago | (#21794172)

I don't think that's really the case. AFAIK the rural carriers will probably keep analog around if it's makes sense to do so.

It's just that the high density areas are suffering because Analog is still around. There's a lot more digital channels that they could run in the cities if they could remove the analog equipment. So they have a lot of incentive to remove Analog.

But I'm not aware that anyone is making them do it. They are just permitting it and some companies are choosing to ack on it in early 2008.

Re:Rural Service? (1)

Secrity (742221) | more than 6 years ago | (#21794322)

There is also Amateur Radio, although that requires a license.

You kids can keep your digital (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21794088)

GSM will never reproduce the sound stage and sheer musicality of AMPS.

Screw analog (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21794114)

To be honest, I don't miss the built-in analog phone in my 1996 7-series BMW. I mean, I guess it was kind of annoying to see an actual part of the car get trashed just due to the progression of technology, but then again, given how much warning I got, and the age of analog (really... how many people do you know who use analog phones...), I guess I just accepted it. It was inevitable, so I guess I should be more angry at BMW for not providing some sort of upgrade or modular system for the receiver.

Any companies still running on the analog system have only themselves to blame, TBH.

No!!! (2, Funny)

GreyWolf3000 (468618) | more than 6 years ago | (#21794118)

You can pry my Zach Morris [wikipedia.org] out of my cold, dead hands.

End of 800MHz receiver lockout? (1)

tcgroat (666085) | more than 6 years ago | (#21794288)

If the analog cell services are going off-line in Februrary, it's high time to dismantle the 800MHz band "cell-phone block" for scanning receivers. That was enacted only to create a minimal level of privacy for analog cell phone conversations. When all cell phones are using digital spread spectrum transmissions they all will benefit from spread spectrum's inherent encryption. Security is exactly what Hedy Lamarr [wikipedia.org] had in mind when inventing spread spectrum.

The 800MHz block will soon be a useless relic, and should be repealed. US buyers should not be limited to buying crippled US-spec versions of receivers that are available in other countries.

Re:End of 800MHz receiver lockout? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21794646)

That's HEDLEY, you provincial putz. But this is 1874, I can sue her!

NOT a mandatory shutdown. (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21794416)

This is in fact not a mandatory analog shutdown, but the date that cellular phone companies are ALLOWED to decomission analog. They're required to keep analog UP until this date, not shut it down at that date. The good word from AT&T is they are shutting analog down as soon as allowed. Verizon, I've heard both that they are shutting it down ASAP and that they aren't (I'm guessing it's up to each Verizon region to decide if they do or not?). I thought US Cellular had specifically said they plan to keep analog up in some areas until at least 2012. And, local providers, they may decide if it's not broke, don't fix it.

          This doesn't negate the point of the article, since many places will lose analog. But, I'm guessing some of these ultra-rural desert and forest type situations, the local provider may keep analog up, at least for a while. Ultimately, though, there's no new equipment available, and indeed I've heard service parts are low too, so it'll have to go once it's unservicable.

2009! (0, Offtopic)

gcnaddict (841664) | more than 6 years ago | (#21794494)

It goes off in 2009 in the states, not 2008! Stop scaring people! Source: NAB [dtvanswers.com]
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