Pat Devlin of Bell Atlantic NYNEX mobile helped us define a few terms for cellular shoppers:
CGSA: Cellular geographic service area, or the area of your cellular service. Everything outside of a CGSA is subject to roaming charges.
Roaming charges: Additional charges to your cellular bill that are incurred while using your cellular telephone outside of your CGSA. The charges and your geographic area depend on the package you choose and your cellular provider.
Peak/Off-peak: Peak times are the specified periods of time when communications are busiest and when the cellular charges are most dear, while off-peak are when rates are lower. Generally, nights and weekends are off-peak hours, while normal business hours usually carry heavier charges.
Analog cellular: The vast majority of cellular technology today. There are approximately 40 million cellular users in the United States, and virtually all of them use analog technology. (The difference between analog and digital is similar to that between audio tapes and compact discs: one is recorded in a continual wave, while the other is recorded in bits of information that, when played at the proper speed, gives the illusion of a continual wave--as the frames of a motion picture appear to be of one fluid motion.)
Digital cellular: The newer technology in cellular communications, but, as Devlin cautions, not necessarily the better. "Digital offers better clarity," says Devlin, "but the analog service is very good. Most of the remarks we receive say that the digital offers `landline-like' quality."