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Introduction to How Cordless Telephones Work

Cordless telephones are one of those minor miracles of modern life -- with a cordless phone, you can talk on the phone while moving freely about your house or in your yard. Long before cell phones became so cheap that anyone could afford one, cordless phones gave everyone the freedom to walk and talk within the privacy of their own homes.

Cordless phones have many of the same features as standard telephones, and there are many models available. In this article, we will examine how these cordless telephones work and see why there are so many different types on the market today.

The Basics

A cordless telephone is basically a combination telephone and radio transmitter/receiver. A cordless phone has two major parts: base and handset.

         The base is attached to the phone jack through a standard phone wire connection, and as far as the phone system is concerned it looks just like a normal phone. The base receives the incoming call (as an electrical signal) through the phone line, converts it to an FM radio signal and then broadcasts that signal.

         The handset receives the radio signal from the base, converts it to an electrical signal and sends that signal to the speaker, where it is converted into the sound you hear. When you talk, the handset broadcasts your voice through a second FM radio signal back to the base. The base receives your voice signal, converts it to an electrical signal and sends that signal through the phone line to the other party.

The base and handset operate on a frequency pair that allows you to talk and listen at the same time, called duplex frequency.


Diagram showing how the base unit and handset of the cordless phone talk to each other: Each color represents a different frequency.

 
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