Behold! The end of an era is nigh. The original cellular networks that freed millions of Americans from their land lines will soon be shutting down. The Federal Communications Commission has established Feb. 18 as the date that wireless providers may shut off their old, analog cellular networks that sparked the wireless boom back in the 1980s.

Analog cellular was what ran those old, bulky phones that people now call "bricks" but made Motorola (NYSE: MOT), Ericsson (Nasdaq: ERIC), and Nokia (NYSE: NOK) billions. Analog cellular services also played a significant role in making AT&T (NYSE: T) and Verizon (NYSE: VZ) into the massive cash machines they are today, although back in the analog days, they operated as multiple independent providers under names such as Ameritech, GTE and AirTouch.

The FCC set the shutoff order back in 2002, so providers and their consumers have had years to prepare for the event. But even with the ample warning, some inconveniences have already cropped up. General Motors (NYSE: GM), for example, has shut off subscribers that use the analog version of its OnStar service. And many home alarm systems use analog cellular networks to communicate with emergency services, so these need to be overhauled as well.

These glitches may give you a flashback to the days of Y2K. Unlike the millennium bug, however, the analog network shutdown is not expected to disable power plants, miscalculate your tax due, or inadvertently launch nuclear missiles. Even better, if you're concerned about the (still unproven) health implications of sticking a cell phone to your ear, you'll be happy to know that digital networks transmit signals at a fraction of the power that analog networks do.

But the frustration over the shutdown remains, and it spells opportunity for some parties. For instance, there's a communications company benefiting from the demand for digital switchovers in those home alarm systems.

If you still own an analog phone, it's time to wake up and join the 21st century. There's a better digital life out there for you -- at least until the current generation of networks goes dark and yields to telepathic communication.

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Fool contributor Dave Mock is an analog guy living in a digital world. He owns shares of Motorola and is the author of The Qualcomm Equation. The Fool's disclosure policy specifically prohibits fish-slapping.