A car phone is a mobile phone device specifically designed and fitted into automobiles. The car phone was once, in the late 1970s and 1980s, more popular than a regular mobile phone. However, since the mobile phone boom in the 1990s, when they became much more affordable, the car phone has suffered, as most people carry their small portable mobile phone around with them, even in the car. Plus, hands free kits are now installed into cars, so the driver can talk and listen to a call while driving.
Traditional car phone service might now be called a 0G (zeroth-generation) service, where 1G (first-generation) is thought of as the beginning of modern cellular telephone service. In North America, car phones typically used the Mobile Telephone Service, which was first used in St. Louis, or Improved Mobile Telephone Service before giving way to analog cellular service (Advanced Mobile Phone System) in 1984. In Finland, car phone service was first available in 1971 on the zero-generation Autoradiopuhelin (or Car Radiophone) service. This was succeeded in 1982 by the 1G system NMT (Nordic Mobile Telephone), used across Scandinavia and in other often remote areas.
Older car phone systems utilize analog (AMPS) technology but they are still used in some countries including the United States. Since a traditional car phone uses a high-power transmitter and external antenna, it is ideal for rural or undeveloped areas where mobile handsets may not work well or at all. However, many carriers will refuse to activate any equipment which uses analog technology or for that matter any non-E911 compliant devices.