An Unfinished Guide to the History of Mobile

Filed in Uncategorized by on May 8, 2013 0 Comments

When I was approached to write blog posts for Syniverse, I started to think about what topics I would like to focus on. I have always been intrigued with the evolution of communications, especially wireless. So I thought I would take some time to reflect on the industry – where we came from, and where we are going.

One of the best parts of my job is meeting customers, and I am often asked about how we got to this point. I will try to give a brief overview here. But to get a quick idea of how far we’ve come, take a look at this film from the 1960s predicting telecom use in the 1990s. Astonishingly accurate, the only part missing from it is wireless!

When I started in telecom in England, we still had switchboard operators connecting some calls, and wireless was something that very few people had. I left British Telecom to go to work for Vodafone.  The main reason I joined was the vision Vodafone had that one day it would be all-encompassing – VOice and DAta Fone – Vodafone

On my first day there, I wondered: How long will the company last? And was it a mistake leaving my beloved British Telecom? But what a way to start in mobile – at the beginning of its meteoric rise. I was plunged into a thing called GSM, which was just being defined.

GSM, from the original French “Groupe Spécial Mobile,” was instrumental in paving the way for today’s modern networks. It surprisingly began in 1982, when the European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications (CEPT) created the GSM committee. This was moved into European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) in 1989. ETSI and several other international standards bodies then joined to form 3GPP (3rd Generation Partnership Project), the origin of our 3G abbreviation.

3G gave us some great data speeds and really introduced us to true mobile IP data usage. Devices have become a lot smarter, too, driving data growth even further, and machine-to-machine and healthcare communications all look to drive usage forward even further as we continue on to 4G.

My job at Syniverse is to look at how our industry is moving, what’s next, and developing next-generation solutions that will drive value for our customers. We have a lot of ideas in the hopper, and I look forward to sharing some of these with you in the future. In the meantime, I hope you’ve enjoyed this stroll down memory lane, and I encourage you to share your own memories and perspectives on the key mileposts in the evolution of mobile.

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Martin Guilfoyle is a former Vice President of Innovation and R&D at Syniverse.

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