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what is PCS..

Discussion in 'GENERAL Wireless Discussion' started by Rollindown95, Jul 8, 2006.

  1. Rollindown95

    Rollindown95 Junior Member
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    yea what is PCS and what comapnies besides the highly advertised sprint offer it? like, ive never heard of a nextel pcs or cingular pcs, whats the difference, does it depend on the phone itself, like can a nokia phone be equipped for pcs?

    and does a tower have to be specially equipped with special panels for PCS? WTF????
     
  2. Jay2TheRescue

    Jay2TheRescue Resident Spamslayer
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    As it is now PCS referrs to the 1900 band. T-Mobile is a PCS carrier, and Cingular is in many places too, but Cingular is not exclusively PCS.

    -Jay
     
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  3. Rollindown95

    Rollindown95 Junior Member
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    can u go a bit more in depth with that JAY, i mean, u hafta pay extra for pcs right? the standard typical cell phone is on what frequency, MHZ? whats the numbers? does it depend on the phone, are newer phones the same as older ones, like my EX gf( we still talk) she has had cingular for ever, decided to upgrade her phone, and she went from her nokia phone to a new razor looking thing made by motorola, but just cause one is newer, does it make it more powerful or were they prolly both the same in the MHZ category?

    ps- she ended up using her upgrade for a wekk and then putting her SIM card back in her old phone, cause the battery life on her new phone was very short and her nokia lasted for a while...
     
  4. agentHibby

    agentHibby Iowa Cellular Guru
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    PCS stands for Personal Communications Services. In the early 90's many large metros had 2 problems one network overloads and lack of competition. With Cellular there can be a maximum of two providers, an A and B.

    PCS providers are required to send out a digital signal (Analog transition is not prohibited on PCS) because the FCC wanted completion to occur the 1st auctions would not allow a Cellular providers obtain PCS license in the same market. Sprint won many PCS license in the 1st auction and had a cellular network in parts of the US. Sprint either had to give-up many PCS airwaves they won or sell the Cellular network. Sprint spun off the Cellular networks 1996 to keep all PCS airwaves they won. The Cellular network they had is now most owned by Alltel and some by Verizon. Sprint without Nextel is 100% PCS. T-Mobile in the US is 100% PCS. Today because of heated competition a wireless provider can have both a cellular and PCS license for the same market.

    The FCC does not want a company to be a squatter with wireless licenses (sit and do nothing with). So they have 5 and 10 year deadlines in which a network has to cover a certain amount of population or the license will be stripped from the provider. Once they meet the deadline the provider files a buildout form to the FCC.

    Even though Sprint and T-Mobile are PCS you can't connect a Sprint phone to a T-Mobile network and vice versa. This is because both companies have chosen a different digital technology that is incompatible. T-Mobile uses GSM and Sprint uses CDMA. With Cellular you are required to send out an analog signal so analog phones can connect to any cellular network.

    By the mid 90's most cellular providers only put up digital in markets that had capacity problems. Digital can fit 3 to 10 times more callers than analog (depending on what what type of digital you use).
    Once PCS providers got networks up in many metros, Cellular providers started to send out both analog and digital signals in all markets to retain customers and give there customers the benefits of digital.

    PCS signal runs on 1850-1915 MHz that is what the phone transmits to the base station and 1930-1995 MHZ is what the base station sends back to the phone.
    With Cellular it is (824-849 869-896 MHz)

    To do PCS you need a PCS license PCS has 7 blocks A-G, only A-F are currently used at this time.

    Here are the blocks in MHz range
    A 1850-1865 1930-1945
    B 1870-1885 1950-1965
    C 1895-1910 1975-1990
    D 1865-1870 1945-1950
    E 1885-1890 1965-1970
    F 1890-1895 1970-1975

    G 1910-1915 1990-1995 This will be given to Nextel once then hand back certain airwaves for public safety

    Being on Digital PCS you will have slightly better batter life than Digital Cellular.

    Today all phones do cellular and PCS
    T-Mobile started last summer to add the ability to do cellular.
    Since 2001 most phones from Verizon Cingular and Sprint do Cellular and PCS.
    Nextel is SMR Specialized Mobile Radio and it all around different than Cellular and PCS the band is around 800 and 900 MHz.

    Cingular and Verizon are a combination of PCS and Cellular. In Dallas there is only 1 Cellular provider and that is Cingular. Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile are all PCS providers in that market.

    In Des Moines Verizon is Cellular provider and Cingular is a PCS provider.

    Each market is different depending on who got what licenses.
    The counties for a Cellular and PCS are different
    A and B PCS blocks are large licenses that cover several metros
    C-F are smaller licenses usually covering just 1 metro in most cases
    G block for Nextel will be a nationwide license.

    Most markets today Cellular providers usually have PCS airwaves, and they use it for more capacity on a tower and internet services. For a Cellular provider to do PCS they will need PCS panels added to the tower and maybe a software upgrade to the base station.

    Since many providers need more airwaves there is a new band called Advanced Wireless Services (AWS)
    The auction will start in August.


    Hope this helps :browani:
     
  5. Rollindown95

    Rollindown95 Junior Member
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    does pcs require a different lookin tower or not? and when u go to buy a phone will they ask u up front "would u like pcs or not" does it work like that? and yes, ur explanation helped, thanks.;)
     
  6. agentHibby

    agentHibby Iowa Cellular Guru
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    Tower can be the same, however the panels will be different.

    Most CDMA phones you have to follow what the PRL does if is possible that you will have troubles making recieving calls

    GSM phones PCS will be GSM 1900 and Cellular will be GSM 850
    Even if the provider does both it may still prefer you to use one of the bands

    Photo is a VZW site
    Pannels in the outside are Cellular and the pannels in the center are PCS.

    Verizon Cingular Sprint require all phones to do Cellular and PCS to be activated
    I think T-mobile now requires Cellular on their phones now.

    Going to a provider and asking if the phone can do PCS is thing that people did back in 97-2000.

    Also if you read in you owners manual it should tell you how long estimated talk time and standby time is on each band the phone can use
     

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  7. strunke

    strunke .:|Always Covered|:.
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    Also a lamens point of view...there is no difference between normal digital cell frequency (800 mhz) and PCS (1900 mhz). The voice quality doesn't change. The only difference is capacity, 1900 can hold more calls then cellular (800-850 mhz) While 800 mhz can travel further from the tower and gives more/wider coverage.

    PCS is used by Sprint (primarily pcs, roams on 800), Verizon (has both), T-Mobile (pcs, not sure if they have native cellular too, roams at 800), Cingular (both?) and Alltel (although Alltel is mostly cellular, PCS in some metro areas).
     
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  8. Rollindown95

    Rollindown95 Junior Member
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    agent hibby, what do u mean when u say "all phones to do cellular and pcs to be activated"? and t-mobile to do cellular....

    ARENT ALL PHONES CELLULAR? hence the name "cell phone" so pcs is just a clearer reception? and a hike in price..LOL..:p
     
  9. Telekom

    Telekom Bronze Senior Member
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    PCS

    (Personal Communications Services) Refers to wireless services that emerged after the U.S. government auctioned commercial licenses in 1994 and 1995. This radio spectrum in the 1.8-2GHz range is typically used for digital cellular transmission that competes with analog and digital services in the 800MHz and 900MHz bands.

    In short PCS is when you talk about mobile/cellular service that uses the 1900 Mhz spectrum.

    Cellular is when you talk about mobile/cellular service that uses the 800/850 Mhz spectrum.


    Major carriers that use PCS are Sprint PCS and T-Mobile. PCS is shorthand for referring to 1900 Mhz just as Cellular is shorthand for referring to 800 or 850 Mhz for mobiles.
     
  10. Telekom

    Telekom Bronze Senior Member
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    You don't pay anything extra to use PCS. You pay whatever the wireless carrier charges whether it's T-Mobile, Verizon, Sprint or cingular. It has nothing to do with the frequency used.
     
  11. Telekom

    Telekom Bronze Senior Member
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    Just curious if you know why there is only one cellular provider in the Dallas market. I was always under the impression that when cellular was set up there were basically two cellular licenses awarded to two different companies in a market (which I assume Dallas is one of.) Cellular licenses (I was lead to believe) were awarded one to the local incumbent telco (which in Dallas' case would have been Southwestern Bell Tel) the "B"ell license and the other license would be awarded to another company. Do you have any idea why there was only one cellular license awarded in the Dallas metro?
     
  12. Telekom

    Telekom Bronze Senior Member
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    You don't ask for PCS or cellular. It will be what that carrier uses. If you go to Sprint and get Sprint service (as opposed to Nextel service) you will get PCS and won't have a choice in the matter. If you go into a T-Mobile store and ask for service you will have PCS since that's what they use. If you go into a VeriZon store in Seattle you will have Cellular since that's what VeriZon uses in Seattle. You don't make any choice other than to pick a carrier. Some carriers use PCS and others use Cellular. Some use both.
     
  13. Telekom

    Telekom Bronze Senior Member
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    Technically whether it's "Cellular" or "PCS" they both use cellular technology but also "technically" Cellular is 800 or (850 Mhz when referring to GSM using the same frequency) and PCS is 1900 Mhz. They both use cellular type technology in that when you move to a different area you are handed off to a different cell which handles your call or data session. As far as price that's whatever the carrier has decided to charge for their services. The phone's technology that it uses has no part in what it costs.
     
  14. COtech

    COtech Bronze Senior Member
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    You have the idea right, two different companies for the two cellular licenses, A and B. B for the incumbent (Bell) local telephone, and A for Another <chuckle> company.

    The A-band license went to McCaw Cellular, which was purchased and renamed (drum roll) AT&T Wireless. The FCC changed some ownership rules.

    Cingular Wireless was created from SBC and BellSouth properties. The FCC applied some ownership rules.

    Cingular purchased ATTWS, and since Dallas has adequate competition in the wireless market, was able to retain the ATTWS A-band license.

    Two licenses were issued, and are presently owned and operated by one company.

    COtech
     
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  15. Telekom

    Telekom Bronze Senior Member
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    Interesting. So, there never was a CDMA cellular provider in the DFW area then. It's interesting that in another large Texas city Houston VeriZon holds one of the cellular licenses and Southwestern Bell (now cingular) owns the other. San Antonio (Bexar county) appears to be in the same situation as Dallas. The same seems to be the situation in Austin and Corpus as well. It's interesting to see what's happenend with cellular licenses. For instance in the Northwest originally the "B" cellular license was held by the LEC USWEST but later sold the cellular operation to Airtouch which later became VeriZon. Later Qwest (the successor to USWEST later decided to get back into wireless and started Qwest PCS (a CDMA carrier.) What's even wierder than that is Qwest which has had all sort of false starts sold a lot of the infrastructure to VeriZon and sold all the customer base to Sprint. You wonder sometimes with Qwest when you get up in the morning whether your phone is going to work or at least who your phone company might be :) The "A" license was held by McCaw which as you said was eventually sold to AT&&T which eventually was bought by cingular. Also interesting regarding cingular in Seattle was cingular launched in Seattle when VeriZon had to divest GTE Mobile Systems when they became VeriZon Wireless. GTE Mobile Systems was a CDMA carrier. They had to give all the former GTE subscribers new handsets (1900 only since there were no 850 base station radios or handsets that could do 850 at the time either.) cingular in western Washington was basically an extension of the 310-17(0) network in California and Nevada. Handsets showed Pacific Bell Wireless for a long time. And if I do say so the PCS network that cingular ran here in western Washington was pretty shabby for the most part with really cråppy coverage. I hear that it's a bit improved since they took over the old ATTWS network which included cellular.
     
  16. strunke

    strunke .:|Always Covered|:.
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    PCS does not have more clear reception. That is a Sprint marketing lie... :wink: It is only how the network is designed (not cellular and pcs), the phone, and signal strength that dictate how clear the call us. PCS and Cellular are the same if all things about the network are equal such as terrain, tower site/distance, phone, etc. In fact cellular can penetrate through buildings better then pcs and also travels further from the tower. PCS has more capacity (number of callers per tower).

    They use to make it sound like a huge improvement to get customers...in fact if i remember right they use to only allow roaming on analog only systems so it made theirs sound much better.
     
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  17. chuikov

    chuikov Senior Member
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    The abreviations cause some confusion:

    TDMA and CDMA for example, are acronyms for actual technologies that can work in different frequency bands. GSM is also an acronym for a technology, but it is the initials of the marketing nickname rather than a technical description like the other two. "Global System for Mobile" doesn't really mean anything, but it's catchier than a name like "Time Division Multiple Access". ;)

    Like the others said, PCS and Cellular are nicknames for frequency bands that can be used by different techniologies. It's a little misleading because the names sound like technologies - especially PCS - but it's really just a frequency range.
     
  18. ZaphodB

    ZaphodB Signal Go Down De Hole...
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    PCS and "Cellular" are old names for what radio frequency the service is provided at : PCS is within the 1900 MHz range and Cellular is in the 800 MHz range.

    Asking which one is superior is like asking which is better, 93.3 FM or 103.1 FM -- what the frequency is has nothing to do with how good the service is. Each frequency has its pluses and minuses, but to the consumer they're indistinguishable and in point of fact you can't tell by looking at your phone which one you're using. How well your phone works has much more to do with how your phone's service provider (Verizon, Cingular, etc.) built out their network than what frequency they use. All service providers use both now -- if not for their own networks, for when you travel and your provider doesn't offer service.

    Verizon phones use PCS frequencies in South Florida and in Texas, for example; Cingular phones use PCS frequencies in many locations throughout the country; Sprint phones use PCS frequencies by default, but roam on cellular frequencies when there's no Sprint service. T-Mobile were the last PCS-only carrier and even now they have roaming agreements that use cellular-frequency carriers. (Nextel are weird -- they also now have some PCS spectrum, but they were a law unto themselves for a long time.)

    Cellular phones are called cellular phones because it used to be that ALL mobile phones used 800 MHz. They ran out of spectrum (that is to say, space for people to make calls) and so the government auctioned off the 1900 MHz spectrum block, which allowed new companies to sell mobile service, including Sprint and what would later become T-Mobile.

    These questions just prove how effective Sprint's marketing of a "means-nothing" term was.
     
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  19. bobolito

    bobolito Diamond Senior Member
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    As others have stated, PCS is nothing more than another name for the 1900Mhz band. PCS is not a technology, it is not a feature, it is not a service. PCS is not something you can buy. It is simply the fact that a carrier's network offers cellular service in the 1900Mhz band. Nothing else. We can all thank Sprint for all this confusion.

    There's nothing "superior", "clearer", or "better" about the 1900Mhz band as it is just a frequency band like any other. Those were Sprint lies from the 90's that apparently still survive almost 10 years later. In fact, 1900Mhz radiofrequency spreading capabilities are inferior to those of the 800Mhz band. Therefore, in building service is usually inferior at the 1900Mhz band in many cases.

    The only advantage of 1900Mhz is that more spectrum licenses were allocated in this band than at 800Mhz, and since 1900Mhz doesn't require Analog, that frees up more space for digital services. So, this is only important for the carrier.
     
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