Wireless needs wires

Why your cell phone would not work without the wired landline network

When this company was formed decades ago, our mission was to provide reliable telephone service to our region. Telephone service was the single most important method of communicating quickly with family, businesses or emergency services — across town or across the country.

bigstock-Smartphone-application-concept-34815812Today there are more cell phones in America than there are people. Users talk trillions of minutes each year and send billions of text messages every month. With all this wireless connectivity, do we really need the wired network at all?

Absolutely. The copper and fiber lines that run overhead and underground through the networks of companies like ours play a critical role in moving signals between the more than 300,000 cell sites located across the country. When you use your cell phone to make a call or access the Internet, your connection spends part of its journey on the same network that makes landline calls and Internet connections possible.

“The wireline network is the backbone of our whole telecommunications system. We need wires.” Those were the words of U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., who chairs the Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and the Internet, in an interview last fall on C-Span (www.c-spanvideo.org/program/Pryor). AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson expressed a similar sentiment last year in a Forbes magazine article when he said, “The more wireless we become, the more fixed-line dependent we become.”

According to a Foundation for Rural Service whitepaper*, the components of a wireless phone network are:

Cell phone: The device you use to make the call

Cell site: A radio transceiver that connects the caller to the network

Mobile switching center: The “brains” that control all elements of the wireless network

Interexchange switching and transport network: The equipment that connects the wireless network to other wireless or wireline networks

The transport network is where we come in. Without our network of wires, your wireless phone calls would never be connected. So the next time you reach for your cell phone to make a call or check your email, remember that it’s the wireline companies like ours that are helping make that connection possible.

 *The whitepaper “Wireless Needs Wires: The Vital Role of Rural Networks in Completing the Call” was produced by the Foundation for Rural Service and authored by GVNW. To order a complimentary copy of the full paper, visit www.frs.org.