Mobile Phone History & Information

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Mobile Phone History

American telecommunications giant AT&T first discussed the development of a wireless phone in 1915, but they feared advances in the technology could undermine the companies hold on the wired telecoms service it dominated in the United States.

It wasn’t until 1978 that a Japanese company called NTT launched the first commercial mobile phone service. By November of 2007 the mobile phone had become the most popular gadget in the world with around half the worlds population having a mobile phone contract, that’s 3.3 billion people, though some people may have had more than one contract and some contracts may have been inactive it’s still a staggering figure.

Mobile internet and email first arrived in 1996 with the Nokia Communicator, which in turn spawned a host of expensive “smartphones” three years later in 1999 NTT of Japan was again at the forefront of technology launching the first mobile internet service “i-Mode”. Back to 2007 and 798 million mobile phone users around the globe accessed the information super highway or mobile internet services such as i-Mod or WAP via their mobile phones.

How mobiles work

Mobiles send and receive signals to and from any number of mobile phone masts which are usually mounted on poles or buildings throughout populated areas of the country. Mobile masts are fitted with microwave antennas and connected to a cabled telephone network and switching system the mobile phone transmits voice and data to the nearest available mast usually within an 8 mile radius.

Once a mobile phone is switched on it registers with the nearest available mobile phone mast with a unique identifier which in turn alerts the mobile phone of any incoming call or message, the phone continually seeks out the strongest signal and re-registers with which ever is the dominant signal and is capable of switching masts seamlessly so as not to interrupt voice or data on the move.

Mobile masts transmit their presence and relay data between mobile phones and the switch, which then connects the call or message to another or the same wired or wireless network. Many of these masts are now camouflaged as trees and are even incorporated in church spires.

Most of these sites transmit and receive digital data with first generation analogue transmitters being phased out. First generation systems developed in 1979 include AMPS and NMT and second generation systems developed in Finland are digital and include GSM, CDMA and TDMA. Third generation networks, 3G are now widely used across the UK and many other countries offering high speed data access in addition to voice communications, these are all digital.

The first mobile phones or car phones used a separate transmitter and vehicle mounted antenna which were limited to 3 watts ERP (Effective Radiated Power). New hand held mobile phones must have the transmission antenna limited to 0.6 watts ERP this limits the transmission range of the modern handset compared with that of the old car phone, and requires mobile phone masts to be spaced closer together.

Mobile phone handsets

Nokia is the largest manufacturer with a global market share of around 40% next is Samsung with 14% together with Motorola again with 14% followed by Sony Ericsson with a 9% share and LG taking 7% of the market.

Environmental impact

In the UK we throw away around 4,000 mobile phone handsets per hour, great news for people selling mobile phones but bad news for the environment. Many mobile phones contain harmful chemicals and metals most LCD screens contain mercury and arsenic in there glass and lights the printed circuit boards often contain heavy metals such as mercury, lead and cadmium.

The good news is many mobile phone manufacturers are becoming more environmentally aware, reducing the use of heavy metals in their manufacture and opting for more recyclable components. There are also a huge number of ways to recycle your old mobile phone in the UK, even charities like Oxfam will put your old mobile to good use and for the more frugal of you companies like Envirofone will even pay you for your old handset. No matter the age or condition of your mobile there are plenty of ways to recycle it, you can compare sell mobile phone prices on our site, surely it’s worth the extra effort to keep your old mobile out of the landfill? For more information on mobile phones why not take a look at