Mobile communication is an essential in our daily lives, the past 10 years has seen an explosion in the growth of mobile technologies and the way we use them. Anywhere you turn these days almost everyone on sight is clutching to some form of mobile communication device for variety of activities ranging from the ordinary talking to web browsing, gaming, multimedia activities and all sort of applications, all you have to do is name it and you can find it enabled in a mobile device more or less referred to as smartphones these days. Gone are the days when mobile phones used to be a brick-like devices with someone shouting at one end and the person at the other end going, “speak louder, I can’t hear you, my reception is not very good”.
The following article provides an informative piece on the history and growth of mobile technology. Focus on how it has developed to what we have today and the changes it brings to the way we communicate, the positive and negative of it and likely future developments with links to references provided at the end.
Taking communication devices and making them portable has been on the minds of human beings throughout history. Smoke signals, drums and carrier pigeons were harnessed by ancient civilisations to communicate over long distances quickly and the first mobile telephone devices were even conceived of in the early 20th century. The birth of radio communication allowed military forces to stay in touch with troops in the field and the impact on the theatre of war was significant. It was not until the 70s that the first mobile phones designed for commercial use were made available and in 1973 Motorola made history after the first ever mobile phone call was made by executive Marin Cooper.
The 1980s and early 1990s saw mobile technology grow and become more widely available and from the mid 1990s it was no longer the preserve of the executives and wealthy, with low cost mobile phones produced on a large scale to allow average consumers to pick up a mobile and stay in touch with friends and family. At this point mobiles became far more versatile and ever before, with advanced internal technology allowing for alternate forms of communication such as SMS texts and eventually multimedia messages and video calls.
As the mobile phone evolved so too did the network technology supporting it. The first generation (1G) networks offered limited bandwidth and an analogue signal, but soon 2G brought with it digital communication in the early 1990s and then a decade later 3G was introduced. It seems that this pattern is continuing, with the connectivity speeds of mobile technology increasing every 10 years or so as new networking technology is rolled out. 4G is starting to take hold around the world, but it is currently made up of fairly disparate technologies that are in need of unification before it can follow in the footsteps of previous generations.
Over the past five years the usage of mobile phones has changed considerably. Although it is possible to buy cheap mobiles that make calls, send texts and do little else, most people are looking to the emerging smartphone market for multitasking, highly functional handsets. The smartphone has come hand in hand with touchscreen technology, consigning physical keypads to the annals of history and making mobile displays larger and larger. This also makes them excellent web browsing and media playing devices, with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity allowing for incredibly flexible and diverse modes of operation. GPS capabilities have become fairly common amongst mobile phones, allowing for satellite navigation to be added to the list of essential features and rendering the mobile phone even more indispensable than ever before.
The future of mobile phones and the network technology which they support looks brighter than ever. At the moment the growth of smartphones and the constant connectivity which they offer is allowing mobile commerce to become huge business, with hundreds of billions of pounds being passed through mobile conduits to make online and real life transactions. The major fear about mobile technology is that it will make humans more forgetful and overly reliant on their phones. As contact information, personal details and vast libraries of photos and home videos are stored on mobiles, losing a phone can literally leave the user stranded. However, there is little doubt that the positives outweigh the negatives.
BBC News: A chat with the first man behind Mobiles
BBC News: Millions keep secret Mobiles
EE Times: South Korea launches WiBro service
Light Reading Mobile: Ericsson, Samsung Make LTE Connection
Motorola: Historic news releases
Motorola: History of Cellular phone Concept
UMTS World: 3G History and future Milestone