QLast month, I started having problems getting a decent signal on my old AT&T cell phone. Has Cingular shut off the AT&T network?
AAt the end of July, Cingular Wireless LLC -- which bought AT&T Wireless last October -- turned off the transmitters serving up the older of two AT&T digital signals, its TDMA (Time Division Multiple Access) service.
Cingular spokeswoman Alexa Kaufman said that 90 percent of the company's traffic runs on its newer GSM (Global System for Mobile) service; meanwhile, Cingular's own TDMA transmitters remain online. So, Kaufman said, Cingular felt this partial shutoff would have minimal effects.
However, the company did not tell users of AT&T TDMA phones about this change.
The wireless-phone industry has a spotty record at helping customers through these technology transitions. A few years ago, when AT&T and Cingular were launching separate GSM services, neither did much to explain the risks of buying TDMA-only phones. And in 1999, Sprint PCS infuriated users of the old Sprint Spectrum service when it required them to get new phones, then failed to put enough people in its stores to deal with the resulting crowds.
These transitions aren't over yet. Starting in 2008, carriers can stop offering analog service, which will leave many older phones without that fallback signal. And while Sprint Nextel Corp. says it will operate Nextel's iDEN network through 2010, at some point that, too, will vanish from the airwaves.
How can I suppress the pause between tracks on my iPod? Operas and symphonies sound unnatural and annoying that way.
You can't. Apple's iTunes software can cut between-tracks pauses to zero (open its Preferences window, click the Playback tab and set "Crossfade playback" to zero seconds), but the same option has yet to appear on any iPod.
-- Rob Pegoraro
Rob Pegoraro attempts to untangle computing conundrums and errant electronics each week. Send questions to The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071 or firstname.lastname@example.org.