Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications (DECT) phones are devices that can be used to communicate through phone lines without a cord connecting the handset and base. The analog technology used in earlier cordless phone models could result in sound quality that was not always very good. With digital technology, the sound is clearer, the distance between the phone and the base station can be greater, and a wider range of frequencies are available.
Properties and Features
A DECT phone, commonly known as DECT 6.0 in the US, requires a base station to charge the handset and receive the phone's signal. It usually comes with one handset, but additional ones can be added on some models. This makes them useful in homes with multiple floors or large layouts, and for offices that want several cubicles to access the same phone system. Each handset is set up to communicate with the same base station, and usually comes with its own charging dock or "cradle."
The range of use for a handset depends on the phone itself, though it typically can reach over 300 feet (up to 100 meters). Digital technology allows a DECT phone to have much greater range than was previously possible, though this can be affected by various environment factors. Objects between the handset and base, for example, can potentially disrupt the signal and reduce the range of these phones.
Some DECT phones can be used with general wireless technology, allowing different handsets connected to the same base station to be used as walkie talkies. Other standards, such as Wi-Fi®, have been more popular in some markets, however, so DECT technology has not expanded to many other devices in places like the US. A DECT phone can often be used with Voiceover Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology, allowing it to remain functional with the new communication platform.
Risks and Concerns
One of the biggest issues with DECT 6.0 technology in the US is that it does not include a single technology profile for use by all manufacturers. This means that a handset produced by one company does not typically function with a base or accessory made by another. Someone using a DECT 6.0 phone should look for accessories and parts made by the same manufacturer to ensure all of the components are compatible.
There is some question of how secure the signal is from this type of phone. DECT technology uses encryption to protect the signal, but the encryption has been broken and someone could potentially listen in on a phone call. It is also possible for someone to intercept the signal from a handset to the base. This allows a different device to act as the base, sending a call through it to another location, rather than through the actual base and phone line.
There is concern among some people about the radiation released by DECT phones. In general, they emit only a low level of radiation during use and while charging; even using the phone frequently should not cause any health issues. Many devices used on a daily basis do emit some radiation, however, and while individually these items are harmless, there is some concern about the possibility that long-term use of multiple devices could result in sufficient cumulative exposure for health concerns. Research into this exposure is ongoing.
History and Terminology
The DECT phone was initially introduced in Europe, and was first referred to as a "Digital European Cordless Telephone." It has since become an industry standard in many parts of the world. The term "DECT" by itself is typically used in Europe and other regions, such as Australia and different Asian countries.
In the US, the term "DECT 6.0" is used, but this does not indicate any particular technological designation. The "6.0" was chosen simply to indicate that it was a new technology for American consumers. A DECT phone in the US operates at 1.9 GHz, and often replaced phones that used the 5.8 GHz frequency. It was decided that "1.9" might seem inferior to "5.8," despite this not being technically accurate, and so "6.0" was chosen for US marketing.