Why Are Cell Phones Called ‘Cell Phones’?

why are cell phones called cell phones
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While scrolling down that screen we are sure the question that why are cell phones called cell phones must have crossed your mind. Right? Well, we think it is time that you finally sit down, read this article and get the correct answer to your question. So, let us begin and answer your question in the most interesting way possible.

How Did The Term “Cell” In Communication Come Into Existence?

To begin with, we should name the engineers who decided to introduce the world cell or cellular to communication technology because before that cell was mainly a biological term. Douglas H. Ring and W. Rae Young working at Bell Labs came with a network that would consist of hexagonal cells to form a network and for mobile phones in cars to connect to others seamlessly. This is where the term “cellular” or “cell” came from. However, the two engineers weren`t able to execute this idea at that time since they didn’t have the technology to do so.

why are cell phones called cell phones

Later, in the year 1960, Richard H. Frenkiel, Joel S. Engel, and Philip T. Porter decided to execute the idea in the same lab this time, placing a multi-directional antenna in each of the cells. This form of network allowed the calls to be handled by multiple channels at a time.

You must have come across the fact that cell phones were invented in the year 1973 and were available for the customers in the next ten years. But, what about the invention of mobile phones? Are mobile phones and cell phones different? To get an answer to your question you should know that mobile phones and cell phones were not the same things.

The invention of mobile phones preceded the intervention of cell phones and no term as cell or cellular was used then. Moreover, if you observe at the story of how and why the term cellular was used for cell phones you would see that the network is cellular and consists of cells with multi-directional antennas and it has nothing to do with the device. You see, another question answered. Mobile phones and cell phones are not the same. However, nowadays the terms are used interchangeably while people still argue about their being completely different.

What Is The Significance Of “Cells” In A Mobile Network?

Cell phones called cell phones

While we have already answered the question of why are cell phones called cellphones it would be interesting to gain a deeper insight into this topic. By, now you must be wondering what role does these cell phones in their working. Well, there is a very simple and straight answer to it. A cell and its outline act as the borderline for the mobile phone and the base station to send and receive signals. Once the borderline passes the signal will not be received by that particular base station or mobile phone. However, if you are on a call and you pass the borders of one particular cell do not worry, it won’t interrupt your calling rather the signal will then be transferred to another base station and you will enter a new cell with a new range.

Types Of Cells In Mobile Networking

Now, since we are talking about cells and how they function you should also know that two types of cells help in the functioning of cellular phones. There are mainly two types of cells- macro and micro.

Let Us Begin By Talking About The First One, Macrocells

1. Macrocells

Macrocells are the ones that are larger and cater to the network services of a larger area. To function for a larger area, the antennas of such cells need to be mounted on a high rise building or rooftops. They can function for large kilometer areas and need a continuous supply of electricity to function. They work very efficiently for rural areas where the population is not too much and not too many tall buildings stand in the way of signals. They are also installed around highways to give proper networking services to people traveling across cities.

cell phones

2. Microcells

Microcells, as the name suggests, are smaller than macrocells and cater to areas smaller than that which is about 2 kilometers. With the range being so small it is not practical to install macrocells to form a network in a particular area thus, microcells work as add-ons on existing networks to extend their networking. Wondering in what areas microcells are installed? Apart from extending the services for macrocells, microcells are used for sports events, concerts etc for short-term usage.

Mobile Network

Remember we said macrocells are installed in densely populated cities on high rooftops and buildings? But, there are certain drawbacks to that as well. In large metropolitan cities, there are tall buildings, antennas of other networks, and whatnot which act as obstructions to a macro cell signal. With a heavy population the needs of browsing the internet, social media, online streaming etc. are also more and macrocells are not enough for fulfilling such needs. Hence, smaller cells such as microcells, picocells, or femtocells (the other two types of small cells) are used to extend and enhance the services. Thus, the combination of both macrocells and microcells helps you to talk to different people for long intervals, watch your favorite movie, stream youtube videos etc.


Seems like we have gathered a lot of information about the invention of mobile phones and why are cell phones called cell phones all of which was exciting to know and learn. We hope we have answered your questions vividly and you would now get a good night sleep knowing that you have learned some important things related to a device that you wake up and sleep to, every single day. For more information about cell phones and their history, you can check other articles on our website. 

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