Questions for cellphone users

I have a few questions about cell telephony. I have been wondering about these issues for some time, yet considering that I will be returning to a landline in February when my contract is up, these questions might seem moot but I still wonder about them nonetheless.

While on an art-buying mission in Cleveland with Mark this past weekend, I brought my cellphone along. I so rarely bring my cellphone outside of the house that what I notice when it is outside my four walls is the main focus of all my questions.

1) When one has a landline and calls anyplace in the world, one does not pay for the long-distance call if the phone goes unanswered. What about a cell call? Do I pay for a long-distance cellular call regardless where I make the call from, if the call goes unanswered?

2) In the period of only a few months I managed to break one of my two wristwatches and then lose the other, so I have no portable timepiece. When I need to have a timepiece while I am on the road, I will bring my cellphone. Once while on the subway I noticed (as I expected) that there would be no signal. The display screen even said as much. However, I couldn’t even get the time while underground. Is this normal? Do all cellphones tune out while underground? I can understand not being able to make a call while riding the subway, but it surprised me that I couldn’t even check what time it was.

3) When I converted to cellular in February last year, the vendor informed me that some calls that were long distance on a landline would be free on a cell. I put this to the test when I had to call my property management company just north of Toronto. I purposely did not dial a 1 in front of the number as one does when dialling long distance. The call went through and I was not charged for a long-distance call on that month’s bill. However, would I have been charged for a long-distance call if I dialled a 1 anyway? Maybe this is the same thing as if I tried to call locally–like to anyplace in Toronto from my home in Mississauga–yet with a 1 in front of the 416 number.

4) While we were driving home from Cleveland on Sunday, I pulled out my phone to see when the “roaming” indicator would go off. I was very surprised to see that the roaming “R” disappeared when we were in St. Catharines. Now St. Catharines seems a lot farther away from Mississauga than Markham (as the crow flies) yet perhaps that is only an illusion since a lake separates the former. I wonder if I could have called from the car in St. Catharines and not been charged long-distance. Or would it still be a long-distance call, yet without “roaming charges”?

5) I plan to buy a watch before my trip to Tristan da Cunha, as I don’t want to take my cellphone with me. Can you imagine what the roaming charges would be if I was even able to make a call from the most isolated inhabited spot on the planet? I would be curious to find out if I could even obtain a signal. I supposedly have unlimited free texts with my cellphone plan, although I have never sent a text since I got this phone. I have however received texts, all of the advertising sort, from the phone company. If I learn how to send texts, and if it really is free to send them–even from Tristan da Cunha–they might however not be received if I can’t receive a signal on the island. How does texting work anyway? Is there really no long-distance charge to send a text internationally? I can’t imagine that I will turn into an oblivious walking textman. Can you imagine me walking while texting on Tristan da Cunha? I could fall into a gulch or off a cliff. I’d be dead for sure.

I have saved my push-button phone and my two dial phones that are as heavy as kettlebells. I will be hooking them up again next February. Come to my house then, the time warp of telephony.

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