Wireless Systems Design

Old Cell Phones Find New Home

With the disposal of waste already posing a problem in the U.S. and the world, many fear that discarded wireless devices will only add to this issue. Indeed, most people don't know what to do with their cellular phones once they've outlived their usefulness. The phones end up in the garbage if they don't find homes in junk drawers or some other spot. If they're lucky, consumers find a charity or a retail store that accepts old phones.

That store or charity organization, however, might not have a real purpose for these phones. Now, the Ann Arbor-based ReCellular, Inc. (www.recellular.com) has come up with a clever solution to this problem. Essentially, ReCellular buys the unwanted old phones that have been donated to charity. It then reconditions them to sell to developing countries like Argentina, Madagascar, or Russia. As a result, these countries gain access to wireless technology at a lower price.

ReCellular processes more than 2 million phones annually. That equals about 200,000 phones per month. That number is likely to increase, thanks to the release of handsets with support for new data services, color screens, and other attractive features. Many consumers may soon be discarding their 2G and 2.5G phones in order to get flashy 3G handsets. By recycling these old cell phones, ReCellular is providing an environmental-friendly solution. For countries that have fewer financial advantages, this company's work could also be an important economical step.

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