New Technology Revolutionizes the Cell Phone Business

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The Internet enables a whole new industry Â? companies like, that buy and re-market old cell phones.

About 35,000 people associated with the worldwide cell phone industry flocked to Cannes last month to attend the 3GSM World Congress and learn all about the latest news and technology.

They learned that new technology continues to change the face of the cell phone business. A dizzying new array of products and services are resulting in new cell phones that can do things that no one even imagined just a few short years ago.

Here are some of the things they discovered:

PHONES ARE GETTING CHEAPER: Phones that operate with modern wideband CDMA technology now cost several hundred dollars, but may come down as low as $50 within a couple of years.

AMAZING NEW FEATURES ARE NEAR: Several phone makers revealed they are working on smart phones that will offer video calling and streaming, Web browsing and Java-based 3D gaming.

HERE COMES MUSIC: One company, Motorola, showcased a new service that will make internet music services available via cell phones. Another, Nokia, revealed an agreement that could make it possible to transfer music between PCs and cell phones.

SHAPES, SIZES, COLORS: Companies introduced new phones that were impossibly thin, impossibly small, and impossibly colorful.

Perhaps most significant, virtually every manufacturer introduced new products at the huge trade show, reflecting the enormous confidence the cell phone industry has in future market growth.

With all that excitement about the cell phones of tomorrow, one important question remains unanswered: what is going to happen to the cell phones of yesterday?

In the U.S. alone, about 122 million new cell phones were sold during 2004. Many of those phones were sold to people who already owned older-model cell phones – phones that worked perfectly well but which did not possess all the features of the newer phones.

The result – millions and millions of outmoded but functional cell phones that end up forgotten in desk drawers.

It can be a significant problem – old cell phones contain metals and chemicals that can cause harm to the environment if they are simply pitched into landfills.

The upside is that many of these old cell phones have real dollar value. And that value has given rise to an industry that re-cycles and re-markets old cell phones and saves them from landfills. The industry was really made possible because of the Internet, which makes it possible for cell phone recyclers to get in touch directly with individuals who might own old, unused cell phones that they are willing to sell.

“Ours is an industry which has developed in just a few short years,” said James Mosieur, chief executive officer of RMS Communications Group Inc., one of the young industry’s leaders. RMS Communications buys most of its cell phones from individuals and non-profit groups over the Internet, through web sites such as

“We buy those phones for cash, refurbish them, and then remarket them in countries throughout the world,” Mosieur said. “Many of them go to South American or Caribbean countries, where the cell phone technology may be a step or two behind where it is here.”

The amount that Mosieur’s company pays for the phones varies, but it is generally between a few dollars to well over $100 per phone, sometimes more for recent models that are in great demand. The company handles anywhere from 60,000 to 80,000 phones each month.

Here is how the transaction works: People interested in selling an old phone can go to and look up their phone to see if it is saleable and what it is worth. Then they fill out a simple form, and the company sends out a small cardboard box that is already stamped and addressed. The customer puts the old phone in the box, sends it off in the mail, and then waits a few days for a check to arrive via return mail.

With people buying phones that offer more features and which sell for higher prices, the ability to sell an old phone generates some cash that can be applied to the cost of the new phone, Mosieur said.

Equally important, the phones that Mosieur’s company acquires get to have a second life which keeps them out of landfills. If the phones turn out to be unusable, RMS carefully strips them of their polluting components and then disposes of them in an environmentally responsible fashion.

“The new cell phone recycling industry is a critical part of the overall cell phone picture since literally millions of new phones flood the market every year,” Mosieur said.


About, a web site operated by RMS Communications Inc., provides consumers and businesses a convenient way to get cash for cell phones that otherwise lay idle. More information can be found at

About RMS Communications Group Inc.

Since 1985 RMS Communications Group, Inc. has been a leading wireless wholesaler with customers all over the world. It supports the wireless industry with innovative services designed to help service providers, wireless agents and corporate customers get the most out of their wireless devices. More information can be found at


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Lynda Gorsuch