Beyond LTE (Part 1): 0G and the birth of the mobile radio phone


Beyond LTE

"A phone is only as good as the network it's on." You've probably heard that line many times, usually coming from spokespersons of wireless carriers, but like it or not, it's a fact that mobile networks are the backbone of the wonderful services we're so used to enjoying on our smartphones. In fact, as mobile technologies progress with time, our dependance on the carriers' networks seems to be growing stronger and stronger. For example, if the mobile network goes down, not only are we going to be unable to call and text each other, as in years past, but we'll also be prevented from accessing the infinite resources of the web whenever we want, not to mention our documents residing in the cloud, our email, streaming services for music and video, and, what's probably most important, a decent weekly forecast! Indeed, as some of us are awaiting the winter season to come and hit us with full force, what could be more awful than having our weather radars jammed by a sudden network outage?! But we digress...

The point is that while smartphone manufacturers are doing whatever they can to bring exciting new features to market, it is the mobile network that enables us to use them whenever and wherever we want, which is the whole point of mobile devices. In our new "Beyond LTE" article series we'll take a look at what lies ahead of us. Obviously, that should be something called 5G, but this is just a general term housing all the future technologies that are being currently researched. By the looks of it, there are no defined "standards" yet for what 5G should be, but there is some partial info here and there that can at least give us a hint of where mobile technology is going.

However, don't want to simply offer you fragments of information. Instead, we'd like to paint a complete picture for you, which means we're going to start from what is considered to be the dawn of wireless connectivity - the mobile radio telephone technology or, as it is also called, 0G. From here, we'll time-travel through the years until we reach present day and make an overview of all that awaits us in the future - as in-depth as we can go. But fear not! We ain't going to bore you with long articles about the history of cell phones. This first part of the series will provide you with a brief summary of how it all started - think of it as a timeline of the most significant moments of those dark (and magnificent?), early years.

We'll divide the series into three parts, with Part 1 focusing on pre-cellular mobile technology, Part 2 exploring the events from the first truly wireless phones (1G) all the way to the current 4G standards, and Part 3 being dedicated to the most recent developments of mobile technology that, with a bit of luck, may some day find its way to our pockets. That article isn't going to read itself, guys, let's get going!

0G - The mobile radio telephone is born

Before the arrival of the first cellular technologies, there was a not-that-brief period when the mobile radio telephone roamed the world (not literally). As you can imagine, the pre-cellular era wasn't as exciting as today's rapidly-developing mobile markets. The mobile telephones of those years didn't exactly fly off the shelves like iPhones, so to speak, but they laid the foundations for the forthcoming generation of truly wireless mobile telecommunications.

It all started sometime around 1946, when Motorola and Bell System began operating the first commercial mobile phone service, known as MTS (Mobile Telephone System). And yes, back in those days, calls were not connected automatically, but by humans. The so-called "mobile phones" were mainly installed in various kinds of vehicles, with a bulky transceiver neatly tucked somewhere in the trunk of the car, and a handset and a dialer positioned somewhere near the driver's seat. This allowed users to stay connected while out and about with their vehicles, although coverage was originally pretty scarce, to put it mildly. The few models that weren't designed for car use were "briefcase" models, which were also mainly used by some kind of specialists, who needed "extreme connectivity."

Imagine what an ad of that time would be like: "This is the future of mobile telephones, but you can have it now! Weighs in at just over 1000oz (30kg) and takes no more space than the spare tire in your trunk!" Who could resist?

Mobile telephones finally went fully automatic in 1962, when Bell System introduced IMTS, or Improved Mobile Telephone System. No longer was a person needed in order to connect the calls (imagine the job cuts!).

Coming as a beta version just a year later, though, from the USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) with love, was the Altay system, which is considered to be the first fully automatic mobile phone system in whole Europe. Altay became fully operational two years later, being gradually deployed across major cities in Russia. You may not believe it, but some variations of the Altay system are still in use today in some parts of Russia. The Scandinavian countries, which were to become the pioneers of mobile devices in Europe, also had their fair share of 0G glory, with Norway deploying its first mobile system in about 1966, followed by Finland in 1971. The devices that were offered were still designed mainly for use in cars.

Meanwhile in the US, Bell and its IMTS had an interesting competitor in the form of the RCC technology, or Radio Common Carrier. RCC service providers were operated by most various companies, and although they were a force to be reckoned with, RCCs were basically doomed due to them not complying to any available technology standard. Actually, some RCC providers, which happened to be in close proximity of one another, designed their gear so that it could work on each of their networks, but on the whole, RCC providers didn't give much thought to the ability to "roam" seamlessly from one network to another, probably because they were too busy as they had to operate calls manually.

The RCC industry in the United States eventually started work on a unified standard, but this has obviously been too late, as shortly after that Bell introduced AMPS - the first true wireless telephone technology (1G) in the US, putting an end to its longtime rivalry with RCC providers.

Stay tuned for Beyond LTE (Part 2): From AMPS to LTE!

Image credit: DirJournal, Time

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27 Comments

1. ajac09

Posts: 1482; Member since: Sep 30, 2009

why do they always find a way to mention the iphone?

2. Ray.S

Posts: 457; Member since: Jul 19, 2011

Because it's an iconic product.

4. aaronkatrini

Posts: 242; Member since: Jun 06, 2012

this guy knows best how to worship apple :P

18. Nadr1212

Posts: 741; Member since: Sep 22, 2012

Cause the iPhone's as un-Technological as the olden day Phones

6. networkdood

Posts: 6330; Member since: Mar 31, 2010

iconic and behind the times....only iconic to those with feeble minds....

10. Ray.S

Posts: 457; Member since: Jul 19, 2011

You may be right, buy you don't have to be on the cutting edge in order to be iconic. Michael Schumacher is no longer the best F1 driver around, but he is an iconic driver.

19. samystic

Posts: 242; Member since: Mar 25, 2012

iconic: (adjective) an object of uncritical devotion (according to MW dictionary)

26. Omar-BHR95

Posts: 184; Member since: Dec 23, 2012

it was an iconic product in the past now the two iconic products are WP'S AND DROIDS

3. aaronkatrini

Posts: 242; Member since: Jun 06, 2012

If they only mention now iphone imagine what will happen during part 2,3 and 4. talking about 2g,3g and 4g. all the time : iphone this, iphone that....blah blah blah. What can you expect other than that from Ray.S?

7. jmoita2

Posts: 930; Member since: Dec 23, 2011

lol. You know the drill, they could be writing about the invention of the telegrafh, and somehow "The all new, magical iPhone 5" would make it into the article...

5. aaronkatrini

Posts: 242; Member since: Jun 06, 2012

Its so fun the story time for x-mass!!

8. gwuhua1984

Posts: 1237; Member since: Mar 06, 2012

Oh wow... check out that phone and that phone model...

9. gazmatic

Posts: 808; Member since: Sep 06, 2012

seriously though... whats with the iphone worship? it is overpriced... if it costs $300 it is a rip off it is not the greatest thing since sliced bread the greatest thing since slice bread is the accidental discovery of peanut butter and jelly

11. Bluesky02

Posts: 1439; Member since: Dec 05, 2011

The LTE we have right now is not true 4G, LTE-Advanced is supposed to be true 4G, so after LTE it is going to be true 4G

12. wumberpeb

Posts: 453; Member since: Mar 14, 2011

Can everyone stop whining about a mention of the iPhone? Good God, I'm looking forward to the rest of this series and all anyone can cry about is something completely separate. IPhoneArena, iFans, blah blah blah. I love my Optimus G, and nobody could ever pay me to own or use an iPhone, but the level of iPhone phobias on this site are ridiculous... Stop hammering the writers

16. Zero0

Posts: 592; Member since: Jul 05, 2012

Exactly. I find that this site is pretty unbiased. Maybe a tiny bit in favor of Android, if anything, actually.

13. ThePolak

Posts: 14; Member since: Jan 26, 2012

Great series, waiting for another part.

14. Republican

Posts: 99; Member since: Apr 05, 2012

iPhone is, and will remain the best. Those who can't afford it can only hate.

17. ajac09

Posts: 1482; Member since: Sep 30, 2009

I hate the iphone and bought 2 note 2's out of contract so whats about affording it?

15. speckledapple

Posts: 902; Member since: Sep 29, 2011

I am very interested in this series

21. thelegend6657 unregistered

If you don't like ray s article , don't read it in the first place . What's wring with talking about iPhone ? This is PHONEARENA not android central .

22. jiggaphone

Posts: 9; Member since: Mar 25, 2011

The iPhone is merely a ubiquitous product that many people and demographics to relate to, so saying the PA supports or mentions a an apple product is favored more you are ignorant and the Mayans should have been right about you at least. now stop breathing the oxygen the rest of us deserve. So they arent favoring or maybe they are everyone has there right to be bias apparently you are so let the guy tell his story amd research how he pleases unless you wish to write it for him. I look forward to this article series. And nope not an apple fan boy got a GS3 among many other product including apple ones.

24. Planterz

Posts: 2120; Member since: Apr 30, 2012

No mention of Rodney Dangerfield's golf bag phone?

25. clevername

Posts: 1436; Member since: Jul 11, 2008

Love it or hate it, fact is the iPhone is known for selling more units than any other line of smartphones. Not saying it does, not saying its better than, just saying it has that reputation. That's why Ray mentioned the iPhone. Not out of bias, or love. But because it is synonymous with ridiculously high sales. great article btw, looking forward to more Ray.

27. fuzzkage

Posts: 17; Member since: Dec 29, 2012

Like it or not Ray.S is right apple is an iconic symbol to the cellphone .. Mobile devices tablets are fathered from the design & capabilities of the iPhone & iPad

* Some comments have been hidden, because they don't meet the discussions rules.

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