Mobile phones

Many people use their mobile phone every day to keep in contact with friends, family and colleagues using voice or data features.

How Mobile Phones Work

Mobile network operators, or "carriers," operate a type of two-way radio network with dozens or even hundreds of antenna towers organized into overlapping "cells." These are the areas around the towers where you can send and receive voice calls, text messages, data or email.

Inside mobile phones and smartphones are the same things you find in a computer, only smaller: a circuit board with a processor, data storage, many specialized computer chips and a small radio antenna. The more features in the phone-built-in cameras and camcorders, GPS navigation, music (MP3) and video (MP4) playback, USB or Bluetooth communications, to name a few-the more chips are packed inside to make it all work.

Of particular importance is the SIM (Subscriber Identity Module) card or an enhanced version called a UICC. These are a type of smart card, a sophisticated computer chip embedded in a small piece of plastic and placed behind the battery. The SIM/UICC helps identify you and securely connect the phone to the network. The phone converts your voice calls to digital information for transmission across the network. It uses secret keys in the SIM/UICC to encrypt, or scramble, calls, text messages and other data, so no one can illegally intercept the radio signal and listen to your calls or steal your subscription.

A SIM/UICC can also securely store personal information like your phone contacts and provide other applications like sports information, TV voting, mobile banking, mobile TV access etc. If your operator allows it, you can move your personal information and contacts to a new phone by simply moving the SIM/UICC.

Worldwide, 80 percent of all mobile phones use a SIM or a UICC; phone plans can be either subscription or prepaid.

Mobile Phone Scams

Scams that target your mobile phone include vishing, spoofing, text message (SMS) phishing and spamming. Here is a quick overview on each. To avoid becoming a victim, remember to look for these suspicious signs and do not give your personal information to anyone over the phone without verifying their credibility.

  • Vishing, or voice phishing, occurs when criminals deliver a false marketing claim to steal credit card numbers, commit identity theft or attempt to sell fraudulent products
  • Caller ID "spoofing" looks like a call coming from a legitimate business; however, the company name and number on your phone is a fake one
  • Text message phishing is an attempt to steal your personal information, like your bank account login; it starts with a text message or email that links to a well disguised, but fake, Web site; if you enter personal information at a phishing site, they steal your login and pretend to be you
  • Text message spamming is unwanted junk mail delivered as text messages to your mobile phone. If spam is a problem for you, check with your operator as they might have spam blocking available

Three things to remember about your mobile phone:

  • Your mobile phone uses radio to communicate through a network of antenna towers organized into "cells"
  • A SIM/UICC allows you to access the phone network, identifies you and helps protect your services, phone calls and text messages
  • Be aware of mobile phone scams including vishing, caller ID spoofing and SMS phishing and spamming

For more information, visit the 3G Americas website



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