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In a cell phone plan, call forwarding is the ability to forward to another number the calls you would normally receive on your cell phone. Even though, strictly speaking, you are not using your cell phone when you receive a forwarded call, your plan’s rules still apply as to airtime charges, minutes used, etc.
Some cell phone plans offer a call waiting feature. This is the ability to put one caller on hold as you receive another call on your cell phone.
All those wonderful caller ID features on your cell phone–picture ID, ringer ID, etc.–can only be used if your wireless plan offers caller ID. In other words, it is the wireless carrier that enables your cell phone to “know” the identity of the number calling you.
A three way calling feature on your cell phone plan allows you to carry a conversation between three different callers–you and two others. In general, your regular airtime charges apply to three way calls.
Voice mail on a cell phone is not like that on old-fashioned answering machines, where the message you receive is actually stored inside the machine. Instead, cell phone voice mail is stored in the wireless carrier’s database. This is why voice mail is a plan feature–although your cell phone may have different features on how to actually access your voicemail.
With most wireless carriers, voice mail services are included in the price of their main service plans.
Many carriers have a nationwide long distance feature in their cell phone plans. By taking advantage of this feature, you can place calls to all 50 states–often even including US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico–without incurring additional charges.
This is a good feature to take advantage of if you know that you often place long-distance calls. Oftentimes, nationwide long distance on a cell phone is much cheaper than placing the same calls on your regular landline phone.
Please note, however, that nationwide long distance is just that–nationwide. To place international calls, you must refer to other terms in your wireless contract.
Text messaging or SMS is the ability to send or receive short typed messages through your cell phone. In some cases, text messages are not included in the general terms of your cell phone plan; instead, you pay a certain amount (usually $0.10) for each text message you send or receive.
You can also subscribe to some text-messaging services that range from receiving sports results to getting your daily horoscope on your cell phone.
If you use text messaging more than occasionally, you may want to consider buying bulk text message–provided your cell phone carrier offers this option. This is cheaper than paying the standard rate for each message.
In order to take advantage of advanced cell phone features such as multimedia downloads, it is often necessary to upgrade or subscribe to a specific service level with a wireless carrier.
Data plans are cell phone plans designed to fit the needs of clients who often need to access email, files or corporate intranet through their cell phone. These plans often include features such as Internet email (POP3, IMAP4, AOL, MSN Hotmail Premium and Yahoo Plus!) and HTML browsing. Depending on the carrier, these plans may or may not require the separate purchase of anytime minutes.
Some cell phone plans include two-way communication “walkie-talkie” features. This feature allows the users to connect to a walkie-talkie network and to “push to talk” as he or she would do with a walkie-talkie. Naturally, the cell phone must have a push-to-talk feature in order to access this service.
Short for Global Positioning System, GPS is a satellite-base technology that pinpoints the location of a device–in this case, a cell phone. Phones that are fully GPS-enabled offer such conveniences as driving directions, family-locator services and even location-specific weather alerts.
Although most cell phones manufactured today have a basic GPS feature that allows police to trace the location of a cellular 911 call, full GPS service is normally an extra feature that you must upgrade to from your regular plan.