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Cellular Telephones

February 16, 2009 | Alana Semuels
Get ready for a week of phone porn. The Mobile World Congress, the cellphone industry's version of the Consumer Electronics Show, kicks off in Barcelona, Spain, today. Thousands of mobile-industry professionals will converge on the city to show off new gear, announce previously secret products and try to convince one another that the sector will weather the economic downturn. Research group Strategy Analytics predicted last month that the global mobile phone market would shrink 9% in 2009.
February 15, 2009 | Times Wire Reports
Verizon Wireless has started selling a device that boosts cellphone signals in a home for $250, making it easier for people to rely solely on wireless. The Verizon Wireless Network Extender is a device known as a femtocell and needs to be connected to a broadband Internet line. It then acts like a miniature cellular tower, listening for signals from a subscriber's cellphone. It covers up to 5,000 square feet. Verizon, the nation's largest carrier, is following in the footsteps of Sprint Nextel Corp.
January 16, 2009 | Times Wire Reports
Shares of Leap Wireless International Inc. and MetroPCS Communications Inc. tumbled after Sprint Nextel Corp. said it would introduce an unlimited-calling plan to compete with the pay-as-you-go wireless carriers. The Boost Mobile program will include unlimited calls and text messages for $50 a month starting Thursday, Sprint said. Leap and MetroPCS also offer unlimited plans at $50 a month. Leap shares fell $2.47 to $25.23. MetroPCS dropped $2.10 to $13.87. Sprint Nextel rose 2 cents to $2.29.
January 12, 2009 | Associated Press
A national safety group is advocating a total ban on cellphone use while driving, saying the practice is clearly dangerous and leads to fatalities. States should ban drivers from using hand-held and hands-free cellphones, and businesses should prohibit employees from using cellphones while driving on the job, the congressionally chartered National Safety Council says, taking those positions for the first time.
January 3, 2009 | Alana Semuels
On New Year's Day, it became illegal to text message while driving in California. Jaime Coffee, an information officer with the California Highway Patrol, talked with The Times concerning ways the new law may be put to the test. Here's an edited transcript. -- What are the penalties for texting while driving? They are similar to the cellphone law that went into effect July 1, 2008. The base fine for a first violation is $20; subsequent violations are $50.
January 3, 2009 | Steve Hymon
While traffic officials applaud a new law that makes it illegal for drivers to read, write or send text messages, they admit there is little evidence that last year's ban against talking on a hand-held cellphone has actually prevented accidents. Since holding a phone to your ear was made a traffic violation last July, the California Highway Patrol has written about 48,000 tickets, fining drivers from $20 to $50.
December 24, 2008 | BLOOMBERG NEWS
Google Inc., owner of the world's most-used search engine, is giving employees cellphones instead of cash gifts this year as it reins in costs during the recession, according to a person familiar with the matter. About 85% of workers will get a handset powered by Google's Android operating system as a holiday gift, said the person, who asked not to be identified. Google handed out $1,000 cash gifts to most employees last year.
December 7, 2008 | Terry Gardner, Gardner is a freelance writer.
Choosing the best cellphone for foreign travel can be daunting. Is the iPhone the answer? Which BlackBerry -- Bold or Storm? Reliable phones that can be used overseas start at about $80. But beware the add-ons. Also, be sure to consider an "unlocked" phone (that is, one in which the phone's tiny ID card, its SIM card, can be switched out). Then, when traveling overseas, you can replace your U.S. SIM card with a cheaper local one.
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