Security systems may be compromised in digital conversion

Lawton_In one week, your cell phone may be obsolete.  The nation is at the end of a five-year plan laid crafted by the Federal Communications Commission to phase out analog cell service.  Cell phone companies say analog service is too unpredictable, and doesn't have advanced 911 locating capabilities.  So, starting Monday, February 18, cell companies no longer have to offer it.

But, it's not only cell phones that will be put out to pasture.  Other services using the analog signal will also be left behind.  One of the biggest concerns is home security systems.  A lot of them use analog cellular signals to communicate with airwaves, and security companies are hustling to upgrade their systems.

Cell phone store manager Gina Calvin says the FCC wants to have the best service possible, and the transfer to digital service will improve 911 GPS location.  "With digital service, we can find where you are," she says.  "It's so much better for the emergency services to be able to do that for you."

Calvin says there aren't many who use analog phones anymore.  "There's very few left out there now.  Almost everybody has now gone to digital service."  But, although the FCC says cell phones have to be digital by next week, it doesn't mean providers will completely cut their analog signals.  They're giving consumers a chance to shop around.

Some car owners with Onstar may also be left high and dry.  Milo Gordon GMC Shop Foreman Mike Thomason says some cars can be upgraded, and new car owners won't have to worry at all.  If the model year of your car is older than a '96, you'll need the upgrade., "The earliest systems, we started installing them 1996 - those systems are going to be obsolete, they will never work again."  Any models after 2006 will be supported.

Although the cell phone change to digital may be a pain, everyone agrees it's worth it.  To find out if your vehicle is affected, visit www.onstar.com and enter your vehicle identification number.  It will let you know if you need an upgrade.  If you don't know whether your cell phone is digital or analog, contact your cellular service provider.

7News Reporter Kenny Scarle