It was nearly 40 years ago that Motorola’s Martin Cooper made the first-ever call using a handheld mobile phone. How quickly has the cell phone industry progressed? It was only six years later in 1979 that what is now known as the first generation cellular network was launched in Japan, which later on became the first nation-wide network. It was this technology that other countries followed suit with, and the U.S. soon found its first successful cellular network in Baltimore and Washington DC in 1981 supporting just 150 subscriber connections.
The 90’s saw the emergence of a digital network, or 2G. A new network capable of SMS (text messaging) as well as a digital voice connection, 2G would introduce data transmission later in the decade. It was this high demand for mobile data connectivity that fueled carriers to begin building a 3G network, aimed at providing enhanced mobile data speeds, faster connection response times, and improved reliability.
The cellular telecommunications industry matured into more than just mobile phones, seemingly overnight. Can’t we all think back to the first time we made a call on a cell phone? Those classic “brick” phones were phased out by smaller, ergonomic flip phones. Flip phones became a thing of the past once sliders/keyboard phones gained popularity, and then came PDA’s and touchscreen devices. With each change in style came changes in network advancement. In what is now a $164 billion a year industry, data connections have become a standard today. An industry of phones has evolved into smartphones, mobile broadband connection cards, embedded broadband netbooks and tablet PCs. Just as soon as we’ve become accustomed to 3G, Sprint introduced America’s first 4G, all-IP network in 2008.
In a survey conducted by CTIA, results display just how much Americans rely on the wireless industry and its technology. This marks the first time in history that the number of wireless subscriber connections (327.6 million), has surpassed the population (315.5 million) in the U.S. and its territories. Granted, many Americans may have two phones, or a mobile broadband card, or even a tablet. Nonetheless, these results exhibit the demand we have, and the importance, to continually expand the capabilities of the wireless industry. Fortunately for consumers, in light of the consistently advancing 4G LTE (Long Term Evolution) standard, progress doesn’t appear t to be slowing any time soon.
Survey results courtesy of CTIA – The Wireless Association: http://ctia.org/media/press/body.cfm/prid/2133