Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Some analog communications services end Feb. 2008

Christmas Day, media outlets carried stories of the phaseout of many analog wireless services on February 18, 2008. Some bare-bones cell phones more than five years old may not work, and some car communication systems (some older TeleAid or Onstar systems on GM, Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, or Saab) may stop working without being upgradeable (some were factory installations), and some home security systems that are a number of years old. An AP list was printed in the Washington Post on Dec. 21, "Gadgets Affected by the Analog Shutdown," here. The full AP story by Peter Svensson is here.

Onstar 's own account (dated back to Jan. 2007) of the Analog to Digital transition is here.

The FCC advisory is here.

This has nothing to do with the digital conversion for cable television that becomes mandatory in February 2009.

However, the issue shows the importance of other kinds of networks besides those most familiar to average Internet users. Automobile communications networks can advise car owners of potentially expensive maintenance problems, and medical communication is obviously important, as in eldercare. In principle, network neutrality legislation should not inadvertently interfere with upgrading the efficiency and speed of these specialized networks.

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