A ringtone or ring tone is the sound made by a telephone to indicate an incoming call or text message. Not literally a tone, the term is most often used today to refer to customizable sounds used on mobile phones.
- 1 Background
- 2 History
- 3 Ringtone makers
- 4 Ringtone business
- 5 Reactions against ringtones
- 6 Types of ring tones
- 7 Ring tone encoding formats
- 8 See also
- 9 References
- 10 External links
A phone “rings” when its network indicates an incoming call and the phone thus alerts the user. For landline telephones, the call signal can be an electric current generated by the switch or exchange to which the telephone is connected. For mobile phones, the network sends the phone a message indicating an incoming call.
A telephone “ring” is the sound generated when there is an incoming telephone call. The term originated from the fact that telephones originally had a ringing mechanism consisting of bells and an electromagnetically-driven clapper, producing a ringing sound. The aforementioned electrical signal powered the electromagnets which would rapidly move and release the clapper, striking the bells. This electromagnetic bell system is still in widespread use. The ringing signal sent to a customer's telephone is 90 volts AC at a frequency of 20 hertz in North America. In Europe it is around 60-90 volts AC at a frequency of 25 hertz. In Australia the ring signal averages 100 V AC at 25 Hz.
While the sound produced is still called a “ring”, more-recently manufactured telephones electronically produce a warbling, chirping, or other sound. Variation of the ring signal can be used to indicate characteristics of incoming calls (for example, rings with a shorter interval between them might be used to signal a call from a given number).
A ringing signal is an electric telephony signal that causes a telephone to alert the user to an incoming call. On a POTS interface, this signal is created applying a pulsating direct voltage of about 100 volts [90 volts AC and 20 Hz in the USA] to the line. Pulsating DC does not alternate polarity; it pulsates from zero to maximum voltage then back to zero. Today this signal may be transmitted digitally for much of the journey, provided as a ringing current only because a majority of landlines are not digital end-to-end. In old phones, this voltage was used to trigger a high-impedance electromagnet to ring a bell on the phone.
Fixed phones of the late 20th century and later detect this ringing current voltage and trigger a warbling tone electronically. Mobile phones are fully digital, hence are signaled to ring as part of the protocol they use to communicate with the cell base stations.
In POTS switching systems, ringing is said to be "tripped" when the impedance of the line reduces to about 600 ohms when the telephone handset is lifted off the switch-hook. This signals that the telephone call has been answered, and the telephone exchange immediately removes the ringing signal from the line and connects the call. This is the source of the name of the problem called "ring-trip" or "pre-trip", which occurs when the ringing signal on the line encounters excessively low resistance between the conductors, which trips the ring before the subscriber's actual telephone has a chance to ring (for more than a very short time); this is common with wet weather and improperly installed lines.
Early research showed that people would wait until the phone stopped ringing before picking it up. Breaks were introduced into the signal to avoid this problem, resulting in the common ring-pause-ring cadence pattern used today. In early party line systems this pattern was a Morse code letter indicating who should pick up the phone, but today, with individual lines, the only surviving patterns are a single ring and double-ring, originally Morse code letters T (dash) and M (dash dash).[clarification needed]
The ringing pattern is known as ring cadence. This only applies to POTS fixed phones, where the high voltage ring signal is switched on and off to create the ringing pattern. In North America, the standard ring cadence is "2-4", or two seconds of ringing followed by four seconds of silence. In Australia and the UK, the standard ring cadence is 400 ms on, 200 ms off, 400 ms on, 2000 ms off. These patterns may vary from region to region, and other patterns are used in different countries around the world.
A service akin to party line ringing is making a comeback in some small office and home office situations allowing facsimile machines and telephones to share the same line but have different telephone numbers; this CLASS feature is usually called distinctive ringing generically, though carriers assign it trademarked names such as "Smart Ring", "Duet", "Multiple Number", "Ident-a-Call", and "Ringmaster." This feature is also used for a second phone number assigned to the same physical line for roommates or teenagers, in which case it is sometimes marketed under the name "teen line".
Caller ID signals are sent during the silent interval between the first and second bursts of the ringing signals.
The interrupted ring signal was designed to attract attention and studies showed that an intermittent two tone ring was the easiest to hear. This had nothing to do with the coded ringing that was used on party lines.
AT&T offered seven different gong combinations for the "C" type ringer found in the model 500 and 2500 landline telephone sets. These gongs provided "distinctive tones" for hearing-impaired customers and to make it possible to tell which phone was ringing when several phones were placed closely together. A "Bell Chime" was also offered, which could be set to chime like a doorbell or to ring like an ordinary phone.
Following a 1975 FCC ruling which permitted third-party devices to be connected to phone lines, manufacturers began to produce accessory telephone ringers which rang with electronic tones or melodies rather than mechanically. People also made their own ringers which used the chip from a musical greeting card to play a melody on the arrival of a call. One such ringer, described in a 1989 book, even features a toy dog which barks and wags its tail when a call arrives. Eventually, electronic telephone ringers became the norm. Some of these ringers produced a single tone, but others produced a sequence of two or three tones or a musical melody.
The first commercial mobile phone with customizable ring tones was the Japanese NTT DoCoMo Digital Mova N103 Hyper by NEC, released in May 1996. It had a few preset songs in MIDI format. In September 1996, IDO, the current au, sold Digital Minimo D319 by Denso. It was the first mobile phone where a user could input an original melody, rather than the preset songs. These phones proved to be popular in Japan: a book published in 1998 providing details about how to customize phones to play snippets of popular songs sold more than 3.5 million copies.
The first downloadable mobile ring tone service was created and delivered in Finland in autumn 1998 when Radiolinja (a Finnish mobile operator now known as Elisa) started their service called Harmonium, invented by Vesa-Matti Pananen., the Harmonium contained both tools for individuals to create monophonic ring tones and a mechanism to deliver them over-the-air (OTA) via SMS to a mobile handset. On November 1998, Digitalphone Groupe (SoftBank Mobile) started a similar service in Japan.
A ring tone maker allows a user to take a song from their personal music collection, select whatever section they like and send the file to their mobile phone. Files can be sent to the mobile phone by direct connection (e.g., USB cable), Bluetooth, text messaging, or e-mail.
Some providers allow users to create their own music tones, either with a "melody composer" or a sample/loop arranger (such as the MusicDJ in many Sony Ericsson phones). These often use encoding formats only available to one particular phone model or brand. Other formats, such as MIDI or MP3, are often supported; they must be downloaded to the phone before they can be used as a normal ring tone.
When someone buys a ringtone, an aggregator (company that sells ringtones) either creates their own tune or mixes together a pre-existing one. After the ringtone is created, it is put into a unique file format and sent to the person’s phone via SMS. If the company uses a pre-existing song, they must pay royalties to the person who owns the song. The owner of the song doesn’t get all of the money; a significant portion is given to the cell phone provider.
In 2005 "SmashTheTones" (now "Mobile17"), became the first third-party solution to allow ring tone creation online without requiring downloadable software or a digital audio editor. Later, Apple’s iPhone allowed users to create a ringtone from any song purchased for the phone’s iTunes library but with some difficulties, including a 40-second limit, and the fact the file has to be an AAC format and whose name ended with the extension .m4r.
There are a variety of websites that let users make ring tones from digital music or other sound files; they upload directly to their mobile phone with no limit on the number of songs uploaded.
The fact that consumers are willing to pay up to $3 for ringtones has made "mobile music" a particularly profitable part of the music industry. Estimates vary: the Manhattan-based marketing and consulting firm Consect estimated ringtones generated $4 billion in worldwide sales in 2004. According to Fortune magazine, ring tones generated more than $2 billion in worldwide sales during 2005. The rise of sound files also contributed to the popularization of ringtones. In 2003 for example, the Japanese ringtone market, which alone was worth US $900 million, experienced US $66.4 million worth of sound file ringtone sales. Also in 2003, the global ringtone industry was worth somewhere between US $2.5 and US $3.5 billion. In 2009, the research firm SNL Kagan estimated that sales of ringtones in the United States peaked at $714 million in 2007. SNL Kagan estimated U.S. sales in 2008 declined to $541 million, due in part to consumers having learned how to create their own ringtones.
The ringtone business has prompted controversy about the industry's business practices.
In April 2005, the law firm of Callahan, McCune and Willis filed a class action lawsuit against Jamster! on behalf of a San Diego father and his ten-year-old daughter. The lawsuit alleges that Jamster! scammed cellular telephone customers through the use of fraudulent and deceptive advertisements. The plaintiffs argue that the ads in question offered one free ring tone to cell phone customers who responded to the ad via text message, but failed to inform users that they would be subscribed to a monthly service. The lawsuit was combined with four others and settled in November 2009.
Satterfield v. Simon & Schuster
In June, 2007, a ruling (later overturned) was handed down in class action case Satterfield v. Simon & Schuster, No. C 06-2893 CW, 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 46325 (N.D. Cal. June 26, 2007), a case involving the transmission of SMS text messages promoting a popular author's "mobile club" to cellular phones, such as the one used by a seven-year-old child. The defendants, the publishing company that contracted for the transmission of the promotional messages and the service provider that actually sent the messages, argued that the named subscriber, the child's mother, had consented to the transmission of promotional messages when, in order to receive a free ringtone, she checked the box in an online form labeled "Yes! I would like to receive promotions from Nextones affiliates and brands…."
Judge Claudia Wilken ruled that the SMS text messages are not covered by the TCPA, first, because the manner in which the SMS messages were sent does not fit the statutory definition of an "automatic telephone dialing system," and second, because the plaintiff had agreed to receive promotional messages under a broadly worded consent provision, executed in connection with the download of a free ringtone. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed and reinstated the potentially 90 million dollar lawsuit against publishing giant Simon & Schuster. A settlement was finally approved by Judge Claudia Wilken on August 6, 2010, which should pay out $175 to each class member who files a claim.
Public Utilities Commission complaint
On July 20, 2005, the Utility Consumers' Action Network, a non-profit California consumer advocacy organization, filed a complaint with the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) against Cingular Wireless for the unauthorized billing of non-communications related charges, such as ring tones. UCAN claimed that Cingular billed its customers for Jamster! and other similar ring tone services without providing customers with the notice, opt-in, and proof of authorization requirements necessary for such charges. UCAN further charged Cingular with violating numerous CPUC requirements by consistently telling customers with questions about non-communications service charges on their wireless phone bill that Cingular has no responsibility and cannot assist customers with their inquiries.
Reactions against ringtones
Etiquette regarding ringtones has been one of the most controversial aspects of cell phone culture. Although often played for aesthetic value to alert a recipient of an incoming call, some individuals around the recipient could consider the ringing noise to be a disturbance. Employers have been known to ban ringtones at work; one Australian company even goes so far as to fine its employees each time their ringtone sounds during a meeting. In another survey of cell-phone owning professionals, 18 percent felt that the worst cell phone etiquette offense was to cycle through a phone's ringtone list, playing them one by one, while riding public transportation. Another reaction towards the ringtones is that a certain culture has formed through the ringtones. People have started to identify themselves with their selected ringtones just as they did with their selection of mobile phones. "As was the case with those who take the call, musical ringtones are also designed with an eye toward such public space situations, so as to provide a kind of treat to co-present, potentially disturbed, bystanders" (Licoppe 148). People have specified even further what type of person they are not just by choosing a phone, but by alerting everyone around of what kind of music they like to hear. In a way, people are sending a message out to become distinct and stand out from the crowd. However, there is also debate that ringtones are selected to become less noticeable and fit right in with the crowd. "Some users thus deliberately choose their ringtone from a set of shared cultural resources...which they know would be recognized by many people. Such a choice of musical ringtones is oriented toward the way they will be received by copresent parties" (Licoppe 148). Since the tunes are easily recognized, people are more likely to avoid it and not be distracted.
Types of ring tones
- A monophonic ring tone is simply a series of musical notes, one note at a time.
- A polyphonic ring tone can consist of several notes at a time. The first polyphonic ring tones used sequenced recording methods such as MIDI. Such recordings specify what synthetic instrument should play a note at a given time, and the actual instrument sound is dependent upon the playback device. Later, synthesized instruments could be included along with the composition data, which allowed for more varied sounds beyond the built-in sound bank of each phone.
- A truetone (also known as "realtone", "mastertone", "superphonic ringtone" or "audio recording") is simply an audio recording, typically in a common format such as MP3 or AAC. Truetones, which are often excerpts from songs, have become popular as ring tones. The first truetone service was started by au on December 2002. "My Gift to You" by Chemistry was the first song to be distributed as a truetone.
- Sing tone
- A "sing tone" is a ring tone created in karaoke style, combining a user’s recorded voice (adjusted to be both in time and in tune) with a backing track.
- Video Ringtone
- A video ringtone is a piece of video content used as a ringtone (typically on 3G phones). Any video may be used, but usually music video excerpts are used. The best examples of these use sound and video track that loops seamlessly. It is possible to use personalised video ringtones against contacts in the phone to provide video and audio Caller Identification.
Ring tone encoding formats
- 3GP: A multimedia container format that can be used for a video ringtone. Defined by the Third Generation Partnership Project 3GPP for 3G UMTS multimedia services. It is used on 3G mobile phones and may be used for but can also be played on some 2G and 4G phones.
- AAC: Some phones like the Sony Ericsson W810i support ring tones in ".m4a" AAC format. The iPhone supports ring tones in ".m4r" AAC format. The ".m4r" format is exactly the same as the ".m4a" format other than the possibility of including DRM style copy protection in an ".m4r" file.
- AMR: Audio compression format specialized in speech used by Nokia before mp3 became standard.
- eMelody: Older monophonic Ericsson format.
- iMelody: Most new phones that don't do Nokia's Smart Messaging are using this monophonic format.
- KWS: Kyocera's ringer format.
- MID / MIDI: Popular sound format.
- Morse code: Text files with a .MORSE extension get converted into morse code songs.
- MOT: An older ringer format for Motorola phones.
- MP3: Most phones support ring tones that are mp3 format.
- Nokia / SCKL / OTT: Nokia Smart Messaging format. Nokia phones can receive ring tones as a text message. Ring tone tools can create these text messages. This allows anyone with a compatible phone to load their own ring tones in without a data cable. There are other phones besides Nokia that use this.
- Ogg Vorbis: default on Android powered phones.
- PDB: Palm database. This is the format used to load ring tones on PDA phones such as the Kyocera 6035 and the Handspring Treo.
- PMD: Format co-created by Qualcomm and Japanese company Faith which can include MIDI, sampled (PCM) audio, static graphics, animation, text, vibration and LED events
- QCP: File format generated by Qualcomm PureVoice software. Especially well-suited for simple vocal recordings.
- RTTTL: A popular text format for ring tones.
- RTX: Similar to RTTTL with some advanced features. Also the octaves are different on RTX.
- Samsung1 & Samsung2: Samsung keypress format.
- Siemens Keypress: Can create and read in a Siemens text file format.
- Siemens SEO: Siemens SEO binary format.
- SMAF: Yamaha music format that combines MIDI with instrument sound data (aka Module files). Filenames have the extension "MMF" or "MLD".
- SRT: Sipura ringtone for Sipura Technology VoIP phones.
- ^ "AUSTRALIAN STANDARD AS/CA S003.1:2010 Requirements for Customer Access Equipment for connection to a Telecommunications Network". 2010. http://www.commsalliance.com.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0012/20802/S003-1_2010r.pdf.
- ^ C-Type Ringers - Maintenance. Bell System Practice, issue 4 (Sept. 1978), section 501-250-303
- ^ Sokolowski, Steve (1989). "Customize Your Phone", Ch. 8 "Telephone Melody Ringer". TAB Books, Blue Ridge Summit, PA. ISBN 0-8306-9354-8.
- ^ Sokolowski, Steve (1989). "Customize Your Phone", Ch. 20 "Animated Telephone Ringer". TAB Books, Blue Ridge Summit, PA. ISBN 0-8306-9354-8.
- ^ Bigelow, Carr and Winder (2001). "Understanding Telephone Electronics", Fourth Edition. Newnes. ISBN 0-7506-7175-0.
- ^ (Japanese) asahi.com, retrieved on September 6, 2008 (Cache)
- ^ (in Japanese) ケータイ着メロ ドレミBOOK [Mobile Ringtones Do-Re-Mi Book]. July 1998.
- ^ Time Magazine Europe: The Sweet Sound Of Success
- ^ First ever MEF Special Recognition Award goes to the pioneer of the mobile ringtone business — "Vesku" Paananen, a June 4, 2004 press release from the Mobile Entertainment Forum
- ^ a b Ring My Bell, a 2005 article from The New Yorker
- ^ Gopinath, S. (2005). Ringtones, or the auditory logic of globalization. First Monday, 10(12), 3.
- ^ Evolution of Ringtones from SendMe Mobile
- ^ a b Greg Sandoval (September 3, 2009). "Apple to offer ready-made ringtones". CNET. CNN. http://www.cnn.com/2009/TECH/biztech/09/03/cnet.apple.ringtones/index.html.
- ^ Mehta, Stephanie N. (December 12, 2005). "Wagner's ring? Way too long.". Fortune. p. 40. http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/fortune_archive/2005/12/12/8363130/index.htm.
- ^ a b Gopinath, Sumanth. "Ringtones, or the Auditory Logic of Globalization." First Monday 10.12 (2005): 3. Print.
- ^ Shrinking Ringtone Sales Lead to Decline in U.S. Mobile Music Market, an August 5, 2009 press release published on the Entrepreneur magazine website
- ^ "Jamster slammed for mobile selling practices", InfoWorld, April 5, 2005. Retrieved March 15, 2007.
- ^ Summary of FORD V. VERISIGN, INC., JAMSTER!, et al., Callahan, McCune and Willis. Retrieved March 15, 2007.
- ^ http://jamstermarketinglitigation.com/pdfs/SettlementAgreement.pdf
- ^ http://www.casd.uscourts.gov/ 05-cv-00819-JM
- ^ https://ecf.cand.uscourts.gov/doc1/03517096469
- ^ http://www.topclassactions.com/close/571-stephen-king-text-message-class-action-lawsuit-settlement
- ^ "Sprint and Cingular Named in Complaints", The New York Times, July 21, 2005. Retrieved March 16, 2007.
- ^ a b Utility Consumers' Action Network v. Cingular Wireless-Complaint and Request for Cease and Desist Order, California Public Utilities Commission, July 20, 2005. Retrieved March 16, 2007.
- ^ Utility Consumers' Action Network v. Cingular Wireless-Opinion Approving Settlement, California Public Utilities Commission, October 19, 2006. Retrieved March 16, 2007.
- ^ 
- ^ Licoppe, Christian. The Mobile Phone's Ring. New York City: MIT Press, 2008. 142-149. Print.
- ^ (Japanese) 2002 news release on KDDI (au) official website, retrieved on September 7, 2008
- Creating your own ring tone from Wired.com
- Ringtones from How Stuff Works
- Ringtone FAQ - Consumer guide to ring tones, from Utility Consumers' Action Network (UCAN)
- New Media Rights - How to make your own cell phone ringtones for free from newmediarights.org, a UCAN project
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Look at other dictionaries:
ringtone — UK US (also ring tone) /ˈrɪŋtəʊn/ noun [C] COMMUNICATIONS ► the sound a mobile phone makes when someone calls it: »50% of all cell phone users in the US between the ages of 15 and 30 have downloaded a ringtone at least once … Financial and business terms
Ringtone — El célebre Nokia tune, sacado del Gran Vals de Francisco Tárrega Ringtone es el término con el cual se conoce el sonido hecho por un teléfono para indicar la llegada de un mensaje de texto o al recibir una llamada, el término es un anglicismo que … Wikipedia Español
ringtone — UK [ˈrɪŋɡˌtəʊn] / US [ˈrɪŋɡˌtoʊn] noun [countable] Word forms ringtone : singular ringtone plural ringtones the sound that your mobile phone makes when someone calls you, for example a series of short sounds or a musical tune … English dictionary
ringtone — noun Ringtone is used after these nouns: ↑cellphone, ↑mobile phone … Collocations dictionary
Ringtone — Ein Klingelton ist im Allgemeinen ein Signalton, der von einer Klingel erzeugt wird. Im Speziellen ist eine digitalisierte Audiodatei gemeint, die von Mobiltelefonen bei einem ankommenden Anruf abgespielt wird. Als Vorlage dienen häufig populäre… … Deutsch Wikipedia
ringtone — noun the sound made by a telephone when ringing, especially the customizable tone of a mobile phone … Wiktionary
ringtone — ring|tone [ˈrıŋtəun US toun] n the sound made by a telephone, especially a ↑mobile phone, when someone is calling it … Dictionary of contemporary English
ringtone — n. sound made by a telephone when it rings (term which is used mostly to refer to the customisable sounds available on cellular phones) … English contemporary dictionary
ringtone — noun a sound made by a mobile phone when an incoming call is received … English new terms dictionary
ringtone — ring•tone [[t]ˈrɪŋˌtoʊn[/t]] n. a sound made by a mobile phone when it receives a call, typically customized with excerpted music. • Etymology: [1980 85; ring II+ tone ] … From formal English to slang