Affordable Italy Cell Phone Rentals

The ancient and noble city of Cortona in Italy is situated 50 miles from Florence, between Arezzo and Perugia. As you approach the city of Cortona, there lies a vast and beautiful plain, flanked by the wonderful sights of distant hills and valleys, with towering yet fruitful mountains. That is what Italy is, a country full of romance and beauty. It is a visit of a life time and no other country in Europe is as exciting as Italy.

While it is expensive to be in touch with your associates, friends and family back home using your hotel telephone, it is a fact that some of the Villas and apartments do not have a phone and in both the cases a cell phone becomes absolutely necessary. If you are planning to take your US cell phone and carrying your number to Italy and be on roaming through your home service provider, think twice before you do that. You may end up with outrageous bill at the end of the month. Roaming is expensive. There is indeed a way out to avoid the expenses.

There are several ways to have the convenience of a cell phone in Italy and most of these are quite expensive. Italy cell phones rentals from http://www.italysimcards.com is not only affordable but it provide you with the advantage of the cheapest of all rates available, and make your money take you further in your trip to Italy. The rates offered by http://www.italysimcards.com are just fractions of what it would cost you to rent Italy cell phone through conventional sources or roam with your own US cell phone through your home service provider.

Further, when you purchase a pre-paid Italy SIM card, this SIM card alone could save you up to 80% of your call expenses. You get a local number with a pre-paid Italy SIM card and all your outgoing calls are charged at local rates. All your incoming calls are FREE of any charges, no matter where they generate from. You do not need to pay for roaming or any other charges. You do not pay any of those monthly bills and you do not need to enter into any contract.

Your pre-paid Italy SIM card is a module which renders your cell phone intelligent. It is this SIM card that lets you call your associates, friends and your family back home and makes you available to the people who want to get in touch with you. A Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) card is a printed circuit board which goes into a slot at the back of your Italy cell phone. Your pre-paid Italy SIM card is of a size a little smaller than a postage stamp and has a microprocessor and memory circuitry built-in. It stores all your unique information, such as, your phone number, your service plan, the International Mobile Subscriber Identity (IMSI) of your cell phone SIM card, etc. On switching on your phone, your pre-paid Italy SIM card sends the IMSI to the local network. This IMSI identification is then verified by the network database and a series of verification process takes place by transmitting identification codes to your Italy cell phone and receiving back information from your pre-paid Italy SIM card. When this verification is complete, your Italy cell phone is then connected with the network and you are now ready to make and receive calls. This process is so fast that it is absolutely transparent to you.

Your pre-paid Italy SIM card also holds your address book, where you can store the names and the numbers of the people you frequently call. It also logs the numbers of your incoming and outgoing calls and also those calls which you have failed to respond. These numbers are logged by its relevant date and time.

Roaming is a facility provided by your home service provider, where you can carry your phone and your US number through your home service provider. This becomes expensive since you pay for your outgoing and incoming calls at roaming rates. With a rented Italy cell phone you do not need to be on roaming when you have a pre-paid Italy SIM card. The set up is locally configured where you pay for your calls as the locals do. Since you pre-pay for your calls, you do not need to pay anything else over and above that. Italy cell phone rentals are all compatible with the network frequencies as operated in Italy and you need not worry about the frequency incompatibility.

When you leave your geographical area with your phone, you are considered to be roaming in the area that you are visiting. You are then said to be visiting a different network. In order to provide you with the roaming facility, your home service provider has entered into a business agreement with the network you are visiting. Under the circumstances, your home service provider needs to pay for each call that your make or receive through the network that you are visiting. When you roam in Italy with your US cell phone, you are said to be on International Roaming. This is the reason why you receive an outrageous bill at the end of the month when you have taken your US phone on roaming. Italy cell phone rentals from http://www.italysimcards.com are affordable and cheaper for the low rates that you pay for renting such a cell phone..

Italy is a GSM country, which means that networks in Italy operate on GSM technology. Even if you have a US GSM cell phone, it is unlikely that it would work in Italy, unless you have a quad or tri-band cell phone. You will need a cell phone which responds to GSM 900 MHz and 1800 MHz frequency bands, which are the ones operated by the Italian network. Networks in North America, Canada and few other neighbouring countries work on different bandwidths, which are 850 MHz and 1900 MHz. Italy cell phone rental provides you with full compliance of the required frequency response in Italy, being compatible with the GSM frequency bands operated by the networks in Italy

When you visit Italy, you will notice that the country has something for everyone, from the busy cities, showcasing the great cultural heritage of the Italians, exhibiting the latest world fashion, to those quaint little peaceful villages in surroundings that brings in tranquility and a sense of calmness. It is the home of pasta, pizza, gelati and vino, where you can enjoy every situation in one of the most romantic country in the world. Walking through the cobblestone backstreets of Rome, you will discover little late night bars, adorned with mix of paintings, antique statues, grandma lamps and mosaics. You will find this to be an apt place where you can rest your feet and sip on a glass of the finest Italian wine and perhaps pick up your cell phone to talk to your family back home. You are not worried about the expenses since, before you left for Italy, you had rented Italy cell phone and purchased a pre-paid Italy cell phone, a package, providing you with double benefit of cost saving. Italy cell phone rentals cost you a fraction of the rates charged by any other. A compatible GSM phone with a pre-paid Italy SIM card provide you with unbelievable savings, including the fact that your pre-paid Italy SIM card could save you up to 80% on your calls that you make, with all your incoming calls coming FREE to you.

When you purchase a pre-paid Italy SIM card from http://www.italysimcards.com you get an initial talk time credit along with it. This allows you to use your cell phone right away when you reach Italy. As the credit depletes, you can buy recharge vouchers from any convenience stores in Italy and top up your talk time credit. These recharge vouchers are available in different denominations and you can choose the value of credit that you would want. Since you pre-pay for your calls, you are in full control of your expenses and can remain within the budget that you have set for the purpose.

Your Italy cell phone rental from http://www.italysimcards.com comes fully charged when delivered to you. You also receive a battery charger which is compliant with the supply voltage in Italy. Rented Italy cell phones are GSM compatible and responds to the network frequencies as operated in Italy. The use of cell phones in Italy has surpassed the total number of landline installations in the country, with the result, that Italy has one of the best mobile coverage in the world. With your rented Italy cell phone, it is highly unlikely that you would experience any ‘dropped call’ or problems in connectivity. Its not only affordability, Italy cell phone rentals from http://www.italysimcards.com are available at very low rates, and is the only way out from having the luxury to carry your US cell phone to Italy on roaming. By law, you need to be an Italian citizen to buy or rent any cell phone in that country and therefore Italy cell phone rental from http://www.italysimcards.com provides you with a better economical solution.

All pre-paid Italy SIM cards are GSM compatible, which would mean that you would need a GSM handset to make and receive calls with such a SIM card. Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) is the second generation (2G) first digital technology system, which replaces the first generation (1G) analog system. GSM is used in over 214 countries and has more than 80% of subscribers out of the total cell phone users in the world. The introduction of GSM technology has created a standard, which embraces all areas of technology, resulting in world-wide seamless wireless connectivity to and from about anywhere in the planet.

If you are not taking your US cell phone on roaming to Italy, the cell phone that you will be taking with you must be SIM unlocked for you to operate that cell phone with a pre-paid Italy SIM card. All Italy cell phone rentals from http://www.italysimcards.com are SIM unlocked handsets, providing you with worry-free communication when you are in Italy.

Cell phones are generally SIM locked by service providers, where a contract that you have signed stipulates that you should be using the services of that particular provider for a certain period of time. In this case the phone is made available to you free of cost and it is SIM locked and only operates with the SIM card that you receive from your service provider. In this way the service provider ensures that you will not be using any other SIM card. After the contract period is over, the service provider assists you in unlocking your phone. It is only then you may choose any SIM card that you like for your cell phone.

In order to make your travelling from one country to the other easier, cell phones are available in multi-frequency GSM bandwidths. A quad band phone responds to all the existing GSM frequencies – 850 MHz, 900 MHz, and 1800 MHz and 1900 MHz. The tri-band phone is compatible with 800MHz, 900MHz and 1800MHz GSM frequency bands. The dual band handset operates on just two frequency bands – 800MHz and 1900MHz bandwidths. All Italy cell phone rentals comply with the network frequencies of Italy.

As most countries in the world, Italy has opted for GSM technology in the mobile telephony operation. GSM provides crystal clear connectivity, so much so that at times, it becomes difficult to sense if you are on a cell phone or using a landline. Whether you are in one of those quaint little remote villages, in the midst of the populated cities or relaxing in one of the beaches, GSM Italy cell phone rentals provide you with a clear digital reception. In fact 99.8% of the people in Italy use cell phones, which is more than the number of landlines installed in the country.

It is difficult to judge what could cause the most breathtaking experience that you will have when you visit Rome. It could be, the great Coliseum, an arena where display of strength linked this Eternal City to the might of the once Roman Empire, the top speed of Fiat cars while you are trying to cross major intersections or the bill that you have to pay for your coffee. The Coliseum is an amphitheatre and was taken up for construction at the time Emperor Vespasian and completed by his sons, Titus and Domitian, between AD 72 and AD 90. The Coliseum was built at the Domus Aurea, an area where Nero’s enormous palace existed. This large amphitheatre was built to a capacity of 50,000 spectators, witnessing gladiatorial combats. Standing in the middle of this amphitheatre and looking all around you, you would perhaps hear the cheer of that 50,000 people, as the gladiators fought to death. It is indeed breathtaking.

Italy is full of romance. Everywhere you visit, you are charmed by the invisible presence of the feeling of you having a great time and enchanting moments of your visit. The narrow winding streets, provides that sense of nostalgia of by gone days, as you pass the wonderful ancient historical buildings. It is a life time of an experience.


Your Cell Phone as a Beacon

Last night was a pretty typical weeknight at my home, I drove home from work
and filled up with gas before I got home, I left my house again at around 5:30
to take my son to his Karate lesson. While I was out I stopped by the local
library to return some books and then swung over to the dry cleaners to pick up
my shirts and slacks and some stuff for my wife. I picked up my son from his
lesson and we stopped off at the grocery store to pick up some bread and milk on
our way back to the house.

Now, you aren’t the first people to know my whereabouts that night. Because I
had my cellular phone with me, the cell phone company that provides my cellular
services knew where I was at the entire time. They tracked me with my cellular
telephone.

How is this possible?

It is possible because people who use their cell phone need to be able to make a
call whenever and wherever they may be located at the time they dial the number
on their phone. Therefore, the cellular companies must be able to route the call
to the nearest cellular tower, which in turn sends your call to the satellite in
space, which sends your signal to the person you are calling. The tower that
handled the call is typically logged (and stored indefinitely) on the wireless
provider’s computers, though it’s not noted on the customer’s monthly bill. In
order for the cell phone company to know what tower you are at, they must be
able to track the signal from your cell phone when it is on.

In the expanded age of advanced communication and the literally thousands of
issues of privacy that it has since spawned, many people would be horrified to
learn that they can be tracked by the phone company via their mobile phone. The
phone companies claim this is a integral part of the service they provide,
privacy advocates say that this is just another way large corporations have
invaded our lives.

Wading into the fray over this controversy concerning your cell phone is another
larger and important player: law enforcement. Law enforcement agencies are now
utilizing the technology of tracking cellular signals to catch criminals and
terrorists. A few cases of dangerous criminals being tracked and caught while on
their telephones have been documented and law enforcement is now fighting with
the cellular companies to ensure its continued use.

Have we lost our privacy by cell phone tracking or have we just gained a
valuable tool for law enforcement to use in keeping us safe? Do the cell phone
companies need to know where you are in order to provide their service, or have
they found, as some privacy advocates claim, a backdoor into your life, your
locations, your shopping habits?

Part One: Mobile 911.

According to the TechTV Show “Talkback”, Cell phones show where you are, and
that is simply part of their design. Without the ability to pinpoint where the
signal from your phone is coming from, calls could never be connected. Because
cell phones decry the use of wires, and the users making the calls are often on
the move, the call and the receiving signal are not at a fixed location.
Therefore, the signal from the cell phone must be tracked.

Cell phone service areas are divided into “cells,” each of which is serviced by
a base station. When you make a call, your cell phone selects the strongest base
station it can find, which is usually the closest station to you.

If you move out of the coverage of one base station, your phone switches to the
next strongest available base station (which usually means you move into a new
cell). The system always knows your location relative to the nearest cell.

This occurs even when your phone is on but not being used. For efficiency’s
sake, an idle cell phone sends out a message on the access channel so that the
system will know where to direct the page if you get an incoming call. The
system knows where you are. In an urban area, each tower covers an area of
approximately 1 to 2 square miles, so a caller’s general location is fairly easy
to pinpoint.

The proliferation of cellular phones and their usage gave birth to a very unique
problem: How would emergency operators track callers who called 911 on their
mobile phone? Dialing 911 from a traditional, wire-based telephone, allowed the
operator to track where the call was being placed, so that an emergency response
could be sent. On mobile phones, the people calling in the emergency had no idea
where they were, and the 911 operators had no way of exactly pin pointing where
the calls where originating.

Enter e911. According to the web site “Webopedia” , E911 is “short for Enhanced
911, a location technology advanced by the FCC that enables cellular phones to
process 911 emergency calls and enable emergency services to locate the
geographic position of the caller. When a person makes a 911 call using a
traditional phone with ground wires, the call is routed to the nearest public
safety answering point (PSAP) that then distributes the emergency call to the
proper services. The PSAP receives the caller’s phone number and the exact
location of the phone from which the call was made. Prior to 1996, 911 callers
using a mobile phone would have to access their service providers in order to
get verification of subscription service before the call was routed to a PSAP.
In 1996 the FCC ruled that a 911 call must go directly to the PSAP without
receiving verification of service from a specific cellular service provider. The
call must be handled by any available service carrier even if it is not the
cellular phone customer’s specific carrier. Under the FCC’s rules, all mobile
phones manufactured for sale in the United States after February 13, 2000, that
are capable of operating in an analog mode must include this special method for
processing 911 calls. “

In an article entitled “How cell phones reveal your location” published on the
Slate (http://www.slate.com) web site, with e911, emergency operators were able
to track calls from wireless phones in less to one or one half of a mile from
where the call originated. The technology was so successfully that the
government made it a law that all cellular phones carry the technology that
enables calls to be tracked. This law is called the Wireless Communications and
Public Safety Act of 1999 (911 Act) and signed into law by President Clinton on
October 26, 1999. According to the law, 95 percent of all cell phones must be
E911 compliant by the end of 2005.

In compliance with the new law, and to better improve the service with its
customers, many cell phone handsets are now equipped with Global Positioning
System chips, which determine a caller’s coordinates by receiving signals beamed
down from a satellite array. The chip factors together the signals’ different
arrival times to calculate the phone’s coordinates, using a mathematical process
known as trilateration. At present, however, GPS data is typically not recorded
for non-emergency purposes, unless the user has explicitly signed up for a
location-based service.

Part Two: The Hacker and the Terrorist

Kevin Mitnick was a hacker. That is to say, he was king of all the hackers.
Mitnick, “America’s Most Wanted Computer Outlaw,” eluded the police, US
Marshalls, and FBI for over two years after vanishing while on probation for his
1989 conviction for computer and access device fraud. His downfall was his
Christmas 1994 break-in to Tsutomu Shimomura’s computers in San Diego,
California. Shimomura just happened to be the head of computing technology at
the San Diego Super Computer Center. Less than two months after having his
computers hacked, Shimomura had tracked Mitnick down after a cross-country
electronic pursuit. Mitnick was arrested by the FBI in Raleigh, North Carolina,
on February 15th, 1995.

Mitnick was charged in North Carolina with 23 counts of access device fraud for
his activities shortly before his arrest. In California, he was charged with an
additional 25 counts of access device, wire, and computer fraud. On March 16,
1999, Mitnick plead guilty to five of these counts and two additional counts
from the Northern District of California. He was sentenced to 46 months and
three years probation. He was released from prison on January 21, 2000, being
eligible for early release after serving almost 60 months of his 68 month
sentence.

How was the FBI able to capture “America’s Most Wanted Computer Outlaw”? By
tracking down a signal from his cell phone.

Luke Helder was going to set off some bombs. Specifically, he was going to set
off bombs in mailboxes across the United States until the locations of his bombs
made a “smiley face” pattern across the map of the U.S. He probably would have
accomplished his morbid feat had he not made one crucial mistake; he turned on
his cell phone.

According to USA Today, as soon as he activated it, FBI agents quickly
triangulated his position between two rural towns and had him in handcuffs
within an hour, according to Nevada authorities. The fact that another motorist
spotted Helder in passing helped authorities, but the cell phone signal was a
dead giveaway

“We got a call from the FBI at approximately 3:20 p.m. that the cell phone that
(Helder) had been known to have had been activated somewhere between Battle
Mountain and Golconda,” said Maj. Rick Bradley of the Nevada Highway Patrol. “We
started hitting Interstate 80.”

Bradley said tracking down Helder without the pinpoint location provided by the
FBI would have been tougher, given the sprawling region.

“It’s really a rural area. There’s not that much police presence,” Bradley said.

Cell phone triangulation is a well-known tracking method within the wireless
industry, said Michael Barker, an equipment sales manager for Cell-Loc, based in
Calgary, Alberta. His company provides tracking services to help people who are
incapacitated and unable to dial for help.

and out of cell tower range.

According to Slate, Location data extrapolated from tower records is frequently
used in criminal cases. It was vital, for example, to the prosecution of David
Westerfield, who was convicted of murdering 7-year-old Danielle van Dam in San
Diego. The killer’s cell-phone usage revealed a bizarre travel pattern in the
two days following the girl’s disappearance, including a suspicious trip to the
desert. In cases like this, wireless providers will not release a user’s records
without a court order, save for rare instances in which a kidnapping has taken
place and time is of the essence.

Domestic crime is not the only arena of law enforcement that is utilizing the
tracking of mobile phone signals, the FBI and CIA have been using this technique
in an effort to capture public enemy number one: Osama Bin Laden.

Author Dan Campbell, writing in the October 2001 issue of Telepolis Magazine,
describes how the world’s most wanted man, coordinated his attacks via his
mobile phone.

“Between 1996 and 1998, when the America’s embassy in Kenya was bombed, the FBI
found that Osama bin Laden and his staff had spent nearly 40 hours making
satellite phone calls from the mountains of Afghanistan. The calls, which can be
sent and received from a special phone the size of a laptop computer, were
relayed via a commercial satellite to sympathizers in the west.

The satellite phone appears to have been a huge convenience for the world’s most
wanted terrorist. He was billed for thousands of minutes of use over two years,
those records indicate, and used it to issue a fatwa in February 1998 that
called on Muslims to kill Americans, including civilians, anywhere in the world.

Even now, as US forces move in for the kill, bin Laden’s satellite phone has not
been cut off. But calls to the terrorist leader are going unanswered. His
international phone number – 00873 682505331 – was disclosed during a trial,
held in New York earlier this year. Calls to his once-active satellite link now
hear only a recorded messages saying he is “not logged on”. “

Indeed, when bin Laden associates went to trial in April on charges of bombing
U.S. embassies in Africa, the prosecution used billing records for calls from
that phone to connect them to bin Laden–but not intercepts of conversations.

Apparently, the FBI are not the only individuals aware of the fact that the
tracing of mobile phone signals can be used to track down an individual’s
location. With American forces closing in on him during the battle of Tora Bora
in late 2001, Osama bin Laden employed a simple trick against sophisticated
United State spy technology to vanish into the mountains that led to Pakistan
and sanctuary.

According to CBS News, A Moroccan who was one of bin Laden’s long-time
bodyguards took possession of the al-Qaeda leader’s satellite phone on the
assumption that US intelligence agencies were monitoring it to get a fix on
their position, said senior Moroccan officials, who have interviewed the
bodyguard, Abdallah Tabarak.

Tabarak moved away from bin Laden and his entourage as they fled, using the
phone to divert the Americans and allow bin Laden to escape. Tabarak was later
captured at Tora Bora in possession of the phone.

The use of Cell phone triangulation and the tracking of other mobile signals
appear to be an effective weapon for law enforcement, one that many agencies are
going to be reluctant to give up. But does the use of technology come at a
price: the sacrifice of privacy and civil rights of the people using mobile
technology.

Part Three: Cell Phone Commercials

The ability to track a person using their cell phone has not been lost on
marketing professionals looking to find a new avenue into consumer buying habits
and preferences. The ability to track individuals’ movements through their
mobile signal has very appealing commercial potentials. For example:

∑ Your phone will be able to tell you where the nearest hospital, shopping mall,
or McDonald’s is located

∑ Merchants could automatically send you location-based advertising and special
offers when their technology senses you’re near their stores

∑ If you’ve pre-loaded their phone numbers and personal information, your phone
could alert you when a friend or family member is in the area

“Advertisers are eager to use location services to alert you when you pass near
a store that might be of interest. Such services are likely in some form, but
carriers are proceeding cautiously. They’re aware you may not want to see ads
for McDonalds every time you pass by the golden arches. Carriers don’t want to
annoy users because it’s so easy to switch providers”, says Allen Nogee, a
senior analyst at Cahners In-Stat Group said on the CNN web site.

The idea of advertisers and law enforcement knowing where you are at any given
moment and where you have been has naturally rubbed privacy-advocate groups the
wrong way. While there is some upsides for the use of this technology, privacy
groups say the potential for abuse of this technology is very high and very real
and they would like to see some provisions built into cell-phone tracking laws
that allow for the privacy of the consumer not to be compromised.

“There certainly need to be better emergency procedures [for cell-phone calls],”
says David Sobel, general counsel for the Electronic Privacy Information Center
in Washington, D.C during an interview with ABC news. “But once the technology
exists, there has to be some way for users to control how the info can be used.”

Sobel says while the FCC mandated the E911 program, federal legislators haven’t
put into place how that information may be used or who would have access to it.

“The Justice Department and FBI do routinely get information from cell-phone
service providers,” says Sobel. But, “There are lingering question on what the
legal standard is to be used to get location information from cell-phone
providers. There is nothing in federal law that addresses that issue.”

According to Sobel, another large privacy issue that might be at stake is not
only the information that is being delivered by using this technology, but the
technology itself might be violating the privacy of mobile communications just
by the way the technology works.

“The e911 rules enacted by the Federal Communications Commission govern the
emerging form of telecommunications known as “packet mode” communication. Law
enforcement agencies already have the authority to demand information that
identifies a phone call as long as it is separate from the call’s contents.
However, with packet-mode communication technology, data containing the numbers
cannot be separated from data containing phone conversations. Thus when police
agencies demand phone number data, phone service providers will have to give
them data containing conversations as well,” said Sobel.

Sobel and lawyers from two other organizations are asking the U.S. Court of
Appeals in Washington, D.C., to block the FCC rules. “The FBI is seeking
surveillance capabilities that far exceed the powers law enforcement has had in
the past and is entitled to under the law,” Sobel said.

Similar legislation for the ability to track movements using mobile technology
has met with stiff resistance in other countries. According to ZDNET UK
(http://www.zdnet.com) in the United Kingdom, civil liberties advocates are
outraged at the implications of the newly passed Regulation of Investigatory
Powers Act, which could allow British law enforcement agencies to trace the
movements of mobile phone users with a minimum of accountability. Privacy
advocates have vowed to have this law over-turned in this country, but in the
meantime, the British government plans to fully extend and incorporate this law
into British law enforcement, no matter what privacy groups say.

“The whole point of RIP (the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act) is to
update surveillance,” a spokeswoman from the British Home Office said. “If you
haven’t broken the law then you’ve nothing to fear.”

Conclusion: Cell Phone Spam?

Law enforcement agencies, already beleaguered by an out of control handgun
problem and a across the board rise in crime in the United States, coupled with
the fact that they must now deal with the horrifying specter of terrorism in
their cities, will not be too quick to give up a powerful new weapon in catching
criminals, especially not one that will essentially tell them where they are
exactly. Any fight that privacy groups may put up will ultimately prove to be
futile to lawmakers in Congress, who want to be seen as giving law enforcement
every chance they can to be effective.

However, privacy groups have a legitimate point in their fears that a technology
of this sort is ripe to be exploited unless the lawmakers take action to limit
the very personal data offered by this tracking technology. Email is a perfect
example of a technology that, in its infant stages, was seen as revolutionary
new form of communication. Now, email systems are so overloaded with spam coming
in from not only the United States but also from Russia and Nigeria, that
congress has acted to implement new laws to stem the tide.

Cell phones now have the ability to send and receive photographs, how much
longer will it be before advertising, in full color begins to find its way to
your telephone? The outrage of having “cell-phone spam” may be so great that he
consumer uproar will cause any type of mobile technology to be severely limited
by law, perhaps even stripping out some of the positive aspects such as those
used by law enforcement.


Cell Phones in Schools – The Great Debate

With today’s technological advances making cell phones pervasive into nearly every aspect of people’s lives, it comes as no surprise that cell phones in schools have become a hotly debated topic. There are advocates on both sides: some claim that cell phones are an inappropriate distraction during school hours, others embrace students’ familiarity with them and utilize them in class. While the jury is still out, both sides do have some intriguing points.

Mobile phone advocates claim many benefits to using the devices in educational settings; some of these advantages include:

  • Parental Involvement. Students can use cellular phones equipped with cameras to take pictures of projects they complete in class, such as group projects that utilize only class time. Generally, in these situations, students do not conduct any research or assembly of such projects at home, so parents do not get to see the result of their child’s efforts in the classroom. Allowing students to use cell phones in this capacity encourages parental involvement in their child’s life, as well as supporting their educational development.
  • Missing Assignments. Teachers can enact a buddy system in which students email or text each other with the details of assignments their buddy missed due to an absence. This will save teachers valuable time they would have otherwise spent assembling makeup packets, and will instill a sense of responsibility among students for themselves and each other.
  • Note-Taking. Students that have problems keeping up in class when taking notes can utilize the camera feature of their mobile phone to snap photos of the notes and save them for later studying and showing parents or tutors, as well as classmates who may have missed part of them. Teachers can also incorporate taking photos of notes into their buddy system for missing assignments, and allow students to forward missed information during class time to absent classmates, and likewise allow them to receive such information if they are absent.
  • Real-World Tools. Cell phones usually have features such as calculators, which most high school math classes require. Using the calculator function of their cell phone can teach students the real-world skill of utilizing what they have on hand to calculate mathematical problems in their everyday lives.
  • Improving Focus. Students with cell phones that feature music capabilities and ear buds can use them during homework periods or times of otherwise independent study. Many students find listening to music a relaxing study habit and studies of learning styles indicate that some students learn best while listening to music while working problems or reading. Students who are comfortable while studying are more likely to study longer, more often, and produce more positive results than those who do not listen to music.

On the other hand, many believe that cell phones will only contribute to already existing problems in schools, such as cheating, disrespecting teachers and staff, and instigating trouble amongst other students; some even cite the possibility of utilizing cell phones for illegal activities during school.

  • Cheating. Using a cell phone, regardless of the age of the user or the location from which they use the phone, comes with responsibility. Some advocates of banning cell phones in schools state that utilizing the camera function of a cell phone enables students to cheat on tests by snapping photos of answer keys, test contents, or the answers on a neighbor’s paper.
  • Disrespect. Students could use their phones for all sorts of mischief in class, including using the audio recording function of them to record teachers or other staff during lectures or other conversations without them being aware of the recording. Students could then use those recordings to take the speaker’s words out of context and present them in a manipulative light.
  • Instigating Trouble. Students can use their cell phones during school to cause problems amongst students and bully others. School-related violence and cases of bullying are on the rise, and officials already have their hands full dealing with problematic students and keeping order in their institutions; allowing students to use devices such as cell phones during school hours will make such problems easier to perpetrate and harder to control.
  • Illegal Activities. Students can use cell phones during school to carry out illicit activities such as placing or taking orders for drug deals, provoking students to fight each other, take and place bets on sporting events or other forms of gambling, or planning events such as bomb threats and other security breaches.
  • Distraction. Almost all of those in favor of banning cell phones from schools say that allowing their use in class will distract students from their studies. Features such as internet access and video gaming capabilities are the most frequently cited as the biggest distractions. While the internet can provide legitimate researching capabilities, playing video games provides no educational benefit at all.

Today there are schools making use of both policies. Pasco County’s Wiregrass Ranch High School utilizes mobile phones in many of its classes, including English, math, and social studies. Teachers allow students to use their phones to research literature and authors, calculate math problems, and take pictures for class projects, among other tactics. Students in this district say that they feel more respected and trust than students in districts who do not have such a privilege, and acknowledge that the devices can help them learn more about their world, both past and present. Regarding the area of behavior management, teachers in the school no longer must battle students on a daily basis to put their phones away or to pay attention during class. Instead, they are integrating cell phone usage into their lesson plans and students are participating during class more and benefiting. Students can take care of their personal business on their cell phones before and after school as well as during lunch and passing periods, so personal distractions really are a non-issue. Administrators acknowledge that some students will and do abuse the privilege. Rules, such as use restrictions and removal of other non-cell phone related privileges, are in place to discourage would-be goof-offers.

Most schools throughout the country instate some type of cell phone ban in their districts, mostly due to their connections to illegal activity and their disruptions during class. Some cite security issues, stating that ready student access to cell phones while on campus does not make them safer in the event of a violent event, even going so far as to state that they can complicate the jobs of emergency responders in such an instance. These schools also say that ready access to cell phones during the school day only inflames rumors and worsens bullying situations among students. As such, many of them enforce a “we see it, we take it” policy, and notify students as well as parents of the strict nature of such policies.

Some schools have begun to relax their mobile phone policies while others continue to uphold their bans, even tightening up their rules prohibiting the presence and usage of cell phones while on campus. Both sides have their own clear reasons for keeping their courses of action, and only time will tell as to which theory is more successful in educating students.