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Breathing New Life into an Old CDMA Telephone

Reading Time: 2 min

CDMA telephones were popular among Lankabell and Dialog customers for several years until both companies discontinued them. If you’ve never had a CDMA telephone, it’s like a portable landline phone (though using it on the go is illegal in some countries and may violate the carrier’s terms of service). It works with both AC and DC power and has an antenna, an on/off switch and a SIM card. This blog post was inspired by a WhatsApp call from an old friend who lives and works in Kuala Lumpur. During our conversation, she mentioned finding her late father’s old CDMA telephone, which she didn’t want to throw away for sentimental reasons. After thinking it over for a few days, we decided to repurpose the old CDMA phone. Here’s what we did.

Register the CDMA Telephone with WhatsApp Business

Yes, you read that right. You can use WhatsApp with a landline or CDMA phone. However, there’s a catch: you can register it with WhatsApp Business only. You can only receive WhatsApp calls, not make them. Any calls you make will use your regular telephone network. WhatsApp text messages are also not supported (obviously). Your carrier must support WhatsApp for this to work. My friend, a freelance fashion designer and single mom working from home, frequently receives international calls on her personal WhatsApp number. We were able to register that CDMA phone with WhatsApp Business. Now, she can use her late father’s old CDMA phone to receive business-class WhatsApp calls from around the world.

Configure the AP and use it as a Portable WiFi Router

While navigating the settings on that old CDMA telephone, we discovered it has a built-in WiFi access point compatible with 4G. This was impressive because my friend sometimes has to work from the baby’s room when the nanny isn’t around, and the WiFi signals from her home office don’t reach the baby’s room. She wants to install a WiFi range extender but lacks the technical knowledge to do so. I guided her through setting up the WiFi access point, securing it, checking the speed, and connecting all her devices to it. Although it doesn’t have all the features of a traditional WiFi router, it ensures she has uninterrupted internet access even in WiFi dead zones in her home.

Use it as an oversized Alarm Clock for the Home Office

My friend takes a break every two hours while working and uses the alarm on her iPhone to remind her. She also uses it to wake up in the morning but prefers to keep her phone off at night to save battery. When we discovered that the old CDMA phone had a built-in alarm clock, we decided to give it a third purpose. It might seem oversized for an alarm clock, but it works perfectly fine. We examined the available alarm sounds and chose a gentle tone that starts low and gradually increases for her morning wakeup alarm and a more aggressive tone for her break reminders. The phone allows setting up multiple alarms, which is exactly what she needed.

Wrap Up

I tried using an old CDMA telephone I had at home with WhatsApp Business, but I couldn’t register it because Dialog doesn’t support it. I did manage to set it up as a portable WiFi router, but the speed was less than 5Mbps. It also has a built-in alarm, but since I already have an alarm clock, I didn’t need it. I can still use it to make calls, so I’ve decided to keep it as a private number to share only with family and close friends. I shared my experience so you can register your landline with WhatsApp Business if your carrier supports it. My friend, on the other hand, is happy with her repurposed CDMA telephone and appreciates my efforts whenever we talk about it. She’s glad we could breathe new life into her late father’s old CDMA telephone.

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