This invention provides a communication device that is capable of interacting with a local wireless communication system when the communication device is within range of the local wireless communication system for controlling operating characteristics of the communication device. The communication device may include cellular telephones, mobile phones, voice pagers, data pagers, mobile computers, palm computers, mobile facsimile machines, mobile appliances, multimedia devices and other wireless communication devices. The local wireless communication system may be located in any site such as an office building, home, hotel, concert hall, movie theater, restaurant, conference room, or public transportation systems.
When the local wireless communication system determines that a command is to be sent, the system may transmit a command to all communication devices that are within range of the local wireless communication system, or to a subset of them. For example, the local wireless communication system in an airplane may send a command to all cell phones within its range to turn off to prevent harmful interference with the airplanes communication system. As another example, a local wireless communication system in a concert hall may send a command to change a wireless communication device from ringing mode to vibrate mode during a concert. The command may be any kind of command. The command can change an operating characteristic of the wireless communication device while optionally giving the device the continued ability to communicate and interact with other communication networks. In another alternative, a wireless communication device such as a cell phone may receive information about a user's hearing aid and its “prescription” from a local wireless communication system and change its output characteristics to emulate the hearing aid so that the user can use the wireless communication device without the hearing aid. Also, wireless communication device may communicate with a local wireless communication system to turn off a user's headphone when the wireless communication device receives an incoming call or data signal.