1876 – Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone. The following year, the first private telephone was installed in the home of Charles Williams of Somerville, Massachusetts. By the end of 1880, 47,900 telephones were in use in the United States.
1895 – Guglielmo Marconi, an Italian inventor, proved the feasibility of radio communications by sending and receiving the first radio signal. Four years later, Marconi flashed the first wireless signal across the English Channel.
1903 – The first international wireless conference was held in Berlin.
1906 – Reginald Fessenden successfully completed an 11-mile wireless telephone call from his laboratory in Brant Rock, Massachusetts.
1912 – The Radio Act was the first domestic legislation to address radio spectrum allocation.
1921 – One-way radio messaging service started by Detroit Police Department.
1941 – Motorola two-way radio installed in a police cruiser.
1946 – The first commercial mobile radiotelephone service was introduced in St. Louis.
1965 – AT&T’s Improved Mobile Telephone Service (IMTS) eliminated the need for push-to-talk operation and offered automatic dialing.
1968 – The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) opened Docket 18262 to address questions regarding spectrum reallocation.
1972 – Bell Labs receives a patent for its Mobile Communications System, which describes and enables handoffs between cells.
1977 – Experimental cellular systems launched in Chicago and the Washington, D.C./Baltimore region.
1981 – In May, the FCC announced the decision to award two cellular licenses per market—one for a wireline company and one for a non-wireline company.
1983 – Advanced Mobile Phone Service (AMPS) released using the 800 MHz to 900 MHz frequency band and the 30 kHz bandwidth for each channel as a fully automated mobile telephone service. AMPS is the first standardized cellular service in the world.
– Motorola introduced the DynaTAC mobile telephone unit, the first truly “mobile” radiotelephone. The phone, dubbed the “brick”, had one hour of talk time and eight hours of standby.
– October 13, 1983 – The first commercial cellular system begins operating in Chicago. In December 1983, the second system activated in the Baltimore/Washington, D.C. corridor.
1984 – The Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association was founded.
1985 – The 100th cellular system is turned on in New Bedford, Massachusetts.
1986 – The FCC switched to a lottery system to license cellular markets. At the urging of industry, the FCC allocates an additional 10 MHz of spectrum for cellular telecommunications. Cellular subscribership tops 2 million.
– 1,000 cell sites across America
1987 – Industry tops $1 billion in revenue.
1988 – CIBER Record® for carriers created, which allows nationwide wireless services
1989 – Motorola announces the MicroTAC® personal cellular phone, which uses a flip-lid mouthpiece. The phone retails for an estimated $3000.
1990s -RAM Mobile Data Network brought online. CDPD packet networks begin deployment. GSM cellular systems support circuit-switched data.
1990 – Nextel Communications, Inc. files a series of waivers with the FCC to set up low power, multiple transmitter networks in six of the top U.S. markets. Cellular subscribership surpasses 5 million.
1992 – The FCC allocates spectrum in the 2 GHz band for emerging technologies, including Personal Communications Services (PCS). The number of cellular users pass the 10 million milestone. 10,000 cell sites across America.
1992 – World’s first commercial text message sent by employees of Logica CMG.
1993 – Bell Labs develops the DSP1616 chip, a digital signal processor used in millions of handsets.
1994 – iDEN network technology, a packet-data network that integrates paging, data communications, voice dispatch and cellular capabilities, is unveiled.
1996 – Bell Atlantic Mobile launches the first commercial CDMA network in the United States.
– The Telecommunications Act of 1996 becomes law, in part designed to open other communications markets to competition. 38 million cell phones in use in the U.S.
1997 – Subscribership in the wireless industry—cellular, PCS and ESMR—surpasses 50 million.
– Industry benchmark reached: 100,000 direct carrier employment
– 50,000 cell sites across America
– Delivery of digital wireless data and voice networks (2G)
1998 – The average consumer used his or her phone for 122 minutes per month.
– Ericsson, Motorola, Nokia and Unwired Planet create WAP Forum.
– WAP 1.0 specifications published on the web.
1999 – Congress passes Wireless Communications and Public Safety Act.
2000 – Wireless subscribership in America exceeds 100 million.
– Digital wireless users outnumber analog subscribers
– Nearly 1 million Americans directly or indirectly employed by wireless. (Jobs in the wireless industry pay wages that are approximately 78 percent higher than the national average.)
– The Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association™ merges with the Wireless Data Forum to become the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association™
– Camera phones introduced in Japanese market.
2001 – The average wireless consumer uses his or her phone for 320 minutes per month.
– November 8, FCC votes to raise CMRS spectrum limits for individual carriers from 45 MHz to 55 MHz, and subsequently eliminate cap in January 2003.
2002 – FCC awards 90 MHz of additional spectrum for advanced wireless services.
– Delivery of digital wireless data and voice enhanced networks (2.5G)
– October 13, 2003 – 20th Anniversary of Commercial Wireless Communications.
2004 – Subscribership reaches over 180 million.
– The Celluar Telecommunications & Internet Association™ changes it name to CTIA-The Wireless Association™
Today Wireless Serves America
- More than 196 million Americans are wireless subscribers.
- More than 225,000 direct service provider employees
- 200,000 times each day, someone uses a wireless phone to call for help.
[Ref: CTIA ]