Reliable cellular networks make widespread use of mobile technology possible. The first cellular network was established in Chicago, Illinois, in 1983.
Photograph courtesy National Geographic

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    On October 13, 1983, Ameritech Mobile Communications (now AT&T) established the United States’ first cellular network in Chicago, Illinois. Reliable cellular networks make widespread use of mobile technology possible.
    A cell is a geographic region served by one cell tower. A cell tower, sometimes called a cell site or base station, is a radio transceiver. This means the tower can both transmit radio signals as well as receive them. 
    A cellular network is simply a connected series of cells. Each cell operates on a distinct radio frequency. This allows mobile devices to access widespread coverage without a disruption in service as the user enters and exits each cell.
    Today, cellular networks are available all over the world. In the developing world, cell phones are more reliable and popular than traditional landlines. Millions of people rely on cellular networks for personal, business, and health-related communications.
  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    access Noun

    ability to use.

    affordable Adjective

    reasonably priced, not expensive.

    available Adjective

    ready for use.

    business Noun

    sale of goods and services, or a place where such sales take place.

    cell Noun

    geographic region served by at least one cell tower, or radio transceiver.

    cell tower Noun

    place, usually a tall mast, where electronic communications equipment are placed to create and service a single cell in a cellular network.

    cellular network Noun

    connected series of cells, or geographic areas served by at least one cell tower, used for wireless communications.

    communication Noun

    sharing of information and ideas.

    coverage Noun

    area reached by a communications network.

    developing world Noun

    nations with low per-capita income, little infrastructure, and a small middle class.

    disrupt Verb

    to interrupt.

    distinct Adjective

    unique or identifiable.

    establish Verb

    to form or officially organize.

    frequency Noun

    rate of occurrence, or the number of things happening in a specific area over specific time period.

    geographic Adjective

    having to do with places and the relationships between people and their environments.

    health Noun

    condition of an organism's body and mind.

    landline Noun

    cable or wire connecting two ground locations.

    mobile technology Noun

    tools that are not dependent on a fixed location or set of machinery.

    operate Verb

    to control or manage.

    participation Noun

    taking part in an activity.

    radio Noun

    wireless transmission based on electromagnetic waves.

    receive Verb

    to get or accept.

    region Noun

    any area on Earth with one or more common characteristics. Regions are the basic units of geography.

    Encyclopedic Entry: region
    reliable Adjective

    dependable or consistent.

    transceiver Noun

    device that can both transmit and receive signals.

    transmit Verb

    to pass along information or communicate.

    widespread Adjective

    affecting a large area or community.