Mobile phones have transformed telephony since their inception. Memories of the telephone booth have been probably been wiped out from your memory, but the journey to the amazing experience of the modern mobile phone has been long but certainly rewarding. The history of GSM is a long and winding story. The idea of mobile networks was first mooted in 1947. Just like some other major technologies in the world today, its application was initially intended for military purposes. Since then till the late 70’s the Americans worked on their advanced mobile phone service (AMPS) technology as the Europeans developed their own mobile communication platforms. In time, Europeans recognized the need for a unified standard that would enable calls anywhere within the continent.
This realization eventually led to the birth of Group special mobile (GSM) during a meeting of the Conference of European Posts and Telegraphs (CEPT) in 1982. Various technical issues were discussed in order to come up with a viable standard that would be acceptable all over Europe. For more than a decade, this special group developed standards, carried out research and finally came up with a way to implement standard communications for the entire continent. This meant that a truly pan-European mobile communication standard was now in place.
From the onset, the limitations of the dominant analogue system at the time were clear. The race to develop a digital platform was on as soon as the modalities had been agreed upon. The technological challenges were immense but the research teams were relentless and finally the birth of universally available mobile telephony was soon in sight. With the adoption of digital technology, the ability to develop cheaper handsets became a reality. All that remained was to convince major manufacturers that the standards would work. It did not take the research group to rope in the firms. In 1989, the responsibilities of the GSM group were transferred to the European telecommunications standards institute. The name of the founders was also transformed to global systems mobile communications thus ensuring the original acronym remained unchanged.
It took only two years after that and in 1991, the first commercial rollout of a mobile network took place in Finland. Radiolinja became the first mobile phone operator on July 1st 1991. Within two years, several roaming agreements existed within Europe. Most of the countries apart from America have currently adopted GSM as the universally accepted standard for mobile telephony and its future seems as bright as ever.