PCS (personal communications service)

PCS (personal communications service) is a wireless phone service similar to cellular telephone service but emphasizing personal service and extended mobility. (Continued...)

PCS (personal communications service) is a wireless phone service similar to cellular telephone service but emphasizing personal service and extended mobility. It's sometimes referred to as digital cellular (although cellular systems can also be digital). Like cellular, PCS is for mobile users and requires a number of antennas to blanket an area of coverage. As a user moves around, the user's phone signal is picked up by the nearest antenna and then forwarded to a base station that connects to the wired network. The phone itself is slightly smaller than a cellular phone. According to Sprint, PCS is now available to 230 million people.

The "personal" in PCS distinguishes this service from cellular by emphasizing that, unlike cellular, which was designed for car phone use and coverage of highways and roads, PCS is designed for greater user mobility. It generally requires more cell transmitters for coverage, but has the advantage of fewer blind spots. Technically, cellular systems in the United States operate in the 824-849 megahertz (MHz) frequency bands; PCS operates in the1850-1990 MHz bands.

Several technologies are used for PCS in the United States, including Time Division Multiple Access (TDMA), Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA), and Global System for Mobile (GSM) communication. GSM is more commonly used in Europe and elsewhere.

This was first published in September 2006

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