Weekly Cell Phone News in Review–July 14, 2014

Senate Panel Advances Bill to Let Consumers Unlock Cellphones
Consumers who want to change cellular providers could soon find it easier to keep using their existing cellphones under a bill that advanced Thursday in the Senate. Similar to the law that lets consumers keep their phone numbers when switching networks, the Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act would allow consumers to transfer the cellphones themselves more easily when changing providers. After a year of negotiations, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted unanimously Thursday in favor of the legislation. The House passed a similar bill this year. Story by Rebecca Bratek for the Los Angeles Times.

40% of Households Use Only Cellphones
More American households are ditching their old telephones: 4 out of 10 only use cellphones, a government survey shows. That’s twice the rate from just five years ago, although the pace of dumping landlines seems to have slowed down in recent years. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been tracking phone use for a decade, and the number of households only using cellphones had been rising by about 5 percentage points each year. Lately, the increases have been smaller and last year it only went up 3 percentage points to 41 percent of U.S. homes. Story by the Associated Press.

“Wiping” Cell Phones Does Not Delete Old Data
Think when you wipe your smart phone of data that it is deleted? Avast Software says think again.  The developer and marketer of device-side security applications says vast warehouses of personal data presumably “wiped” from the phone’s storage is in fact recoverable. The security firm said it could recover photos, emails, chats and other personal data from cell phones after they had been “wiped” clean and sold on the second hand market. Story by Mark Melin for ValueWalk.

New Verizon App Offers Virtual Doctor Visits
Verizon recently announced a new program which allows patients to talk to the doctor without actually having to go to the doctor. The Verizon Virtual Visits app is a modern-day version of a house call. Instead of you having to go to the doctor’s office, Verizon Virtual Visits brings your doctor to you. The entire visit happens through a video chat on a smartphone, tablet or computer. There are a variety of benefits from this program. Patients have the ability to save money on costly visits to a doctor or urgent care facility. Sick patients are less likely to infect other patients in a waiting room if they are able to stay at home. Doctors can potentially see more patients in a single hour because they can just talk on camera. Story by Natalie Rutledge for SaveOnPhone.com.

Etiquette Tips for National Cell Phone Courtesy Month
Did you know that July is National Cell Phone Courtesy Month? Etiquette expert Jacqueline Whitmore founded the event in 2002 with the intent to encourage cell phone users to be more respectful of their surroundings by using some simple cell phone etiquette principles. According to some, the cell phone is one of the greatest inventions of our time, but as the cell phone has developed into the smartphone, it’s also one of the greatest distractions. Whitmore offers these steps to avoid offending others. Story by Veronica Beltran for The Denver Channel.

Just How Dirty is Your Cell Phone?
Most of us use a cell phone every day. Without ever realizing, it’s full of potentially dangerous germs. We use cell phones for everything from talking to texting to tweeting. But those smartphones aren’t just picking up a signal. In many cases, they’re picking up germs and bacteria from your surroundings and your hands. Dr. Tierno says direct contact like kissing and sneezing and indirect contact with objects like cell phones accounts for 80% of infections and research has found some phones are even dirtier than a toilet seat. Those germs become even more dangerous when those phones are placed up to your face near your eyes, nose and mouth. Story by WEAR ABC 3.

How Cell Phones Could Pose a Security Threat
As the TSA increases its scrutiny of electronic devices, especially cellphones, on some overseas flights, the new security measures raise questions about how to combat threats posed by such familiar technology. Without explaining what prompted the announcement, the Department of Homeland Security and the TSA said passengers may be required turn on their cellphones at security. If a phone won’t power up, it won’t be allowed on the plane and its owner may be subject to further security checks. The primary concern appears to be that a bomb could be concealed inside a cellphone or other electronic device. The government says no new specific intelligence led to the stepped-up security. But several technology and security experts told CBS News that given the nature of the TSA’s latest measures, a key factor may may have to do with an electronic device’s “X-ray signature.” Story by WKRC.

About John Oldshue

John Oldshue is the creator of SaveOnPhone.com. He worked for over 15 years in television and won an Emmy award for his reporting. He covers long distance and cell phone topics for SaveOnPhone.