How does your mobile phone work? | ICT #1

How does your mobile phone work? | ICT #1



– [Presenter] For most of us, a mobile phone is a part of our lives. But I’m sure you’re curious minds have always been struck by such questions as how a mobile phone makes a call, and why there are different generations of mobile communications? (upbeat music) Let’s explore the technology
behind mobile communications. When you speak on your phone, your voice is picked up by
your phone’s microphone. The microphone turns your
voice into a digital signal with the help of MEMS sensor and IC. The digital signal contains your voice in the form of zeros and ones. An antenna inside the phone
receives these zeros and ones and transmits them in the
form of electromagnetic waves. Electromagnetic waves
transmit the zeros and ones by altering the wave characteristics, such as the amplitude, frequency, phase, or combinations of these.


For example, in the case of frequency, zero and one are transmitted by using low and high
frequencies respectively. So, if you could find a way to transmit these electromagnetic waves to your friend’s phone, you would be able to establish a call. However, electromagnetic waves are incapable of traveling long distances. They lose their strength
due to the presence of physical objects, electrical equipment, and some environmental factors. In fact, if there were no such issues, even then, electromagnetic waves
would not carry on forever, due to the Earth’s curved structure. To overcome these issues,
cell towers were introduced, using the concept of cellular technology. In cellular technology, a geographic area is
divided into hexagonal cells with each cell having its
own tower and frequency slot. Generally, these cell towers
are connected through wires, or more specifically,
optical fiber cables. These optical fiber cables
are laid under the ground or the ocean, to provide national or
international connectivity. The electromagnetic waves
produced by your phone are picked up by the tower in your cell and convert them into high
frequency light pulses. These light pulses are carried
to the base transceiver box, located at the base of the tower for further signal processing, After processing, your
voice signal is routed towards the destination tower.


Upon receiving the pulses, the destination tower radiates it outwards in the form of electromagnetic waves, and your friend’s phone
then receives the signal. This signal undergoes a reverse process, and your friend hears your voice. So, it’s true that mobile communications are not entirely wireless, they do use a wired medium too. This is how mobile
communications are carried out. However, there was a big issue that we intentionally left unanswered. Mobile communication is only successful when your tower transfers the
signal to your friends tower. But how does your tower know in which cell tower area
your friend is located? Well, for this process,
the cell tower gets help from something called a
mobile switching center. The MSC is the central point
of a group of cell towers. Before moving further, let’s explain more
information about the MSC. When you purchase a SIM card, all the subscription information is registered in a specified MSC. This MSC will be your home MSC. The home MSC stores information
such as service plans, your current location,
and your activity status.


If you move outside the
range of your home MSC, the new MSC, which serves you instead, is known as a foreign MSC. As you enter a foreign MSC region, it communicates with your home MSC. In short, your home MSC always knows which MSC area you are in. To understand in which cell
location the subscriber is within the MSE area, the MSC uses a few techniques. One way is to update
the subscriber location after a certain period. When the phone crosses a
predefined number of towers, the location update is again done. The last one of these is
when the phone is turned on. Let’s try to understand
all of these procedures with an example. Suppose, Emma wants to call John. When Emma dials John’s number, the call request arrives
at Emma’s home MSC.


Upon receiving John’s number, the request will be
forwarded to John’s home MSC. Now, John’s MSC checks
for his current MSC. If John is in his home MSC, the call requests will be immediately sent to his current cell location, and it checks whether John
is engaged on another call, or if his mobile is switched off. If everything is positive,
John’s phone rings, and the call will be connected. However, if John is not in his home MSC, John’s home MSC simply
forwards the call request to the foreign MSC.


The foreign MSC will follow the previously
explained procedure to locate John’s phone, and will then establish the call. Now, let’s discuss why
the frequency spectrum is quite important in
mobile phone communications. To transfer zeros and ones
in digital communication, each subscriber is
allocated a frequency range. However, the frequency spectrum available for cellular communications
is quite limited, and there are billions of subscribers. This issue is solved with
the help of two technologies, one frequency slot distribution, and two, multiple access technique. In the first technique, different frequency slots
are carefully allocated to different cell towers. In the multiple access technique, this frequency slot is
efficiently distributed amongst all the active
users in the cell area. Now, the big question. Why are there different generations of mobile phone technologies? 1G originally allowed
users, for the first time, to carry a phone without
a cable attached to it. But 1G suffered from two major problems. The first problem was that
the wireless transmission was in an analog format. Analog signals that are easily
altered by external sources. So, it provided poor voice
quality and poor security.


The second problem was that it used the frequency division
multiple access technique, which used the available
spectrum in an inefficient way. These factors paved the way
for the second generation of mobile communications, 2G used digital multiple access
technologies, namely TDMA, or CDMA technology. The second generation also introduced a revolutionary
data service, SMS, and internet browsing. 3G technology was focused on giving a higher data transfer speed. It used a WCD multiple access technique, along with an increase in bandwidth. To achieve this, the 3G speed of two Mbps allowed the transfer of data for uses such as GPS, videos,
voice calls, et cetera.


3G was a huge step in the transformation of the basic phone to a smartphone. Next came 4G, which achieved
speeds of 20 to 100 Mbps. This was suitable for high
resolution movies and television. This higher speed was made possible due to the OFD multiple access technology, and MIMO technology. MIMO uses multiple
transmitter receiver antennas inside both the mobile
phone and the towers. The next generation of
mobile communication, 5G, to be rolled out soon, will use enhanced MIMO
technology and millimeter waves. It will provide seamless connectivity to support the internet of things, such as driverless cars and smart homes. Would you like to learn
how a touchscreen works? Please check out this video.


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Contact Telus/Cambridge Electronics Incorporated:

Dan LHeureux
105-8701 94 st
Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta
T8L 4P7


As found on YouTube


Katherine Clark