Digital doesn't need an antenna...

A couple of years ago, my good friend Dave and I were returning from an antenna mission down in Washington DC.  We had already dropped off our rental car at Dulles airport and were in the shuttle van heading for our gate.  I thought I would advise my wife that we were on schedule, so I reached for my cell phone: a now-ancient Samsung with a pull-up antenna.  When I flipped open the phone, to my surprise I saw "No Signal."

Now, being in the vicinity of the airport, I found it quite surprising that we would not have service.  I extended the antenna, held it away from my body and hopefully watched the screen.  Across from us in the van, facing us, a gentleman said, "That doesn't do anything, you know."  

"Excuse me?", I asked.

"The antenna doesn't do anything.  It's a pacifier.  The phone is digital, and digital doesn't require an antenna.  There's a chip inside."

I was at a crossroads.  I could politely nod my head and say something about the weather, allowing this fellow business traveller to peacefully return to his thoughts.  Or...

"Hey, Dave, there's the cell tower! And I still have no signal."  I pointed to a large white tower with two at-least-twelve-foot-diameter parabolic dishes on it.  We were passing by the GE facility where many aircraft radars were developed.  Our fellow traveller just nodded sagely.

"Y'know, I am glad you told me that", I said as I rapidly unscrewed the pull-up antenna from the phone.  "This thing keeps poking me in the ribs.  I am going to get rid of it and fill the hole with RTV when I get home", I exclaimed.

I can only imagine the mental exercises Dave was doing just to keep a straight face.  I was done having my fun, as we were pulling up to our gate.  Our fellow business traveller, a stranger who just wanted us to know that the antenna wasn't really necessary had one last bit of wisdom.

"What's RTV?", he said.

We made our flight in a timely fashion, and went home.  That night I would sleep more soundly.

Wiser for the experience, we now knew that digital does not require an antenna.