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When we refer to updated technology, most people commonly think of computers. In a way, a cellular phone is a computer of its own, but it is just another item to add to the list of necessities we will all need within years to come. Then, we must ask society if the phone is a desire or a necessity. I feel that cell phones should only be used in a case of emergency when in the car. Today there are more than 60 million wireless customers, but is it a must-have accessory of this generation?

The business of cellular phones started about 25 years ago in selected markets and grew considerably from a $3 million market to one that now makes in close to $30 billion annually. It is called "cellular" because the system uses many base stations to divide a service area into multiple cells. Cellular calls are transferred from base station to base station as a user travels from cell to cell. The basic concept of phones began in 1947 when researchers looked at mobile car phones and realized that by using small cells with frequency re-use could increase the traffic capacity of mobile phones, however, the technology to do it was still nonexistent.

Anything to do with broadcasting and sending a redio or television message out over the airwaves comes under a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulation that a cell phone is actually a type of two-way radio. In 1947 AT&T proposed that the FCC designate a large number of radio spectrum frequencies so that wide-spread cellular telephone service could become probable and AT&T could research the new technology. The FCC can be blamed for the partial gap between the concept of cellular service and it's availability to the public. Because of the FCC decision to limit the frequencies in 1947, only 23 phone conversations could occur simultaneously in the same service area. This stopped the growth of cellular phones for a while because the public did not want to pay for a service that was not 100% effective. The FCC reconsidered all the possibilities of a cellular phone in 1968. They decided to free the airwaves for more cellular phones. AT&T Bell Labs proposed a cellular system to the FCC of many small, low-powered broadcast towers, each covering a "cell" a few miles in radius, and covering a large area. Each tower would use only a few of the total frequencies appropriate to the sytem, and as cars moved across the area their calls would be passed from tower to tower.

By 1977, AT&T Bell Labs constructed and operated a prototype cellular system. A year later, public trials of the new system began with 2000 trial customers. In 1979, the first commercial cellular tepephone system began operation in Tokyo. In 1981, Motorola started a second U.S. Cellular redio-telephone system test. By 1982, the slow moving FCC finally authorized commercial cellular service for the USA. A year later, the first American commercial for analog cellular service or AMPS (Advanced Mobile Phone Service) was offered by Ameritech in Chicago. Despite the incredible demand for cellular phones, it took the service 37 years to become commercially available in the United States.

The customer demand quickly overtook the system's standards and by 1987, cellular tepephone subscribers exceeded one million, and the airways were too crowded. Three ways of improving services existed. The first way was to increase the frequency's allotment. They also split the existing cells and finally, they improved technology.

The first cellular services, which operated at 800 MHz, used analog signals. Analog sends signals using a continuous sream or wave. When a cellular phone customer turns on his phone, a signal is sent that identifies him as a customer, makes sure he is a paying customer, then searches out a free channel to fit his call. PCS, or Personal Communications Services, which operates at 1850 MHz, on the other hand, followed years later. New customers into the wireless market chose digital instead of analog. These companies saw the promise in building out PCS systems based on digital, and hope to benefit from the continued growth. When we researched the year 2000, the United States was holding 23 million subscribers of PCS.

Some cellular operators did see this evolution coming. They, too, looked to benefit from digital technology by backing a technique that combined both mediums: digital analog, known as D-AMPS 136, the next upgrade from cellular. This was intended to improve on an analog-only network. The upgrade was done to protect their investment in the cellular network, while still being able to prove some of tomorrow's services that their customers will demand. While digital upgrades are growing and more and more operators are switching over to digital, by some estimates half the world's cellular users still use the basic analog system.

Unlike analog, which sends signals using a continuous stream, the digital technology works by sampling pieces of the wave, chopping it up and then sending it in bursts of data. Digital provides faster data speeds. This factor is important for the internet meeting the airwaves. Other benefits of digital cellular phones include better usage of "bandwidth," or the power of the frequency, and a less chance of a sorrupted call. These features, and others including security, have been promoted by the new PCS systems around the country.

One of the digital drawbacks, however, is its different technologies that result in lackluster coverage area. There are three digital wireless technologies. CDMA (code-division multiple access), and GSM (global system for mobile communication), so phones that work with one technology may not necessarily work on another network that supports another technology. Digital is shaping up to be the technology of the future. If customers switch in their landline phones for one phone in particular, their cellular phone, it will most likely be based on digital technology. Cellular phones are the quick and easy way for a cellular operator to get phones and phone services out to customers. There are, however, many problems within the airwaves but the demand for the cellular phone grows considerably every day. The next step from today's cellular phone with internet access, will be to ban them from usage in the automobile. Most accidents in todays society are caused by irresponsible, careless users that find it more important to socialize than to concentrate on driving. Although, the more access available on cellular phones, the more accidents will be caused in every day life.