The telephone has been a familiar piece of technology in the home since it was first invented by Alexander Graham Bell in 1876. The mechanism behind how a phone works is fairly simple and one which has stood the test of time, as telephones today are still based on the same principals as the phones that were used over a hundred years ago. Basically, a phone transmits audio using radio waves which are then converted into sound at the other end of the line by using oscillating metal substances and electrodes. The radio wave aspect to the phone has been further developed into cordless phones which give the user freedom to move around the house whilst on a call. This works by transmitting the data from the handset back to the base, which in turn receives and sends data via the phone line.
Mobile phones were the next development in telephone technology and these also operate over a radio link in a wide geographical area. Unlike the cordless telephone, which connects to a private base station in the home, a mobile phone connects to a cellular network giving the user capability to use the phone wherever there is signal available. The first handheld mobile phone was used in 1973 and weighed around 1kg! Today, mobile phones not only offer a calling service but also the ability to send text messages, access the internet and use short range wireless communications such as blue tooth.
In recent years, communication technology has progressed to the internet which offers fast and often free services. With the development of broadband internet it has become possible to make calls that match the quality of the traditional landline telephone over the internet. In addition, users can send other data such as video imagery with the use of a webcam. This has become ever more popular as the calls are free and can connect you to someone on the other side of the world. Most smartphones now incorporate a video call feature which makes use of the phone's built-in camera, microphone and internet access.
With all this technology you may wonder whether it is even worth keeping a landline phone in your home anymore. Landline phones still offer a competitive rate for calls and you will also find that most broadband packages require a landline before they can be set up in your home. Landline phones offer more security than mobile networks and your landline phone won't suddenly run out of battery mid-conversation. More importantly, you should always keep a traditional landline phone (i.e. not a cordless model) in case of an emergency. If you have a power cut, this is the only device that does not require a mains electricity supply and in addition it can be easily traced by the emergency services.
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