The History Of GSM: 1982 to 2001

More than 700 GSM mobile networks have been established in Europe, the North America, South America, Iceland, Asia, Africa and Australasia up untill now, woven together by international roaming agreements and a common bond called the "Memorandum of Understanding" (MoU) which defines the GSM standards and the different phases of its world-wide implementation.

1982 - The Beginning

  • Nordic Telecom and Netherlands PTT propose to CEPT (Conference of European Post and Telecommunications) the development of a new digital cellular standard that would cope with the ever a burgeoning demands on European mobile networks. 

  • The European Commission (EC) issues a directive which requires member states to reserve frequencies in the 900 MHz band for GSM to allow for roaming.


1986

  • Main GSM radio transmission techniques are chosen

1987

  • September - 13 operators and administrators from 12 areas in the CEPT GSM advisory group sign the charter GSM (Groupe Spéciale Mobile) MoU "Club" agreement, with a launch date of 1 July 1991.
  • The original French name was later changed to Global System for Mobile Communications, but the original GSM acronym stuck.
  • GSM spec drafted.

1989

  • The European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) defined GSM as the internationally accepted digital cellular telephony standard

  • GSM becomes an ETSI technical committee


1990

  • Phase 1 GSM 900 specifications are frozen
  • DCS adaptation starts
  • Validation systems implemented
  • First GSM World congress in Rome with 650 Participants

1991

  • First GSM spec demonstrated
  • DCS specifications are frozen
  • GSM World Congress Nice has 690 Participants

1992

  • January - First GSM network operator is Oy Radiolinja Ab in Finland
  • December 1992 - 13 networks on air in 7 areas
  • GSM World Congress Berlin - 630 Participants

1993

  • GSM demonstrated for the first time in Africa at Telkom '93 in Cape Town
  • Roaming agreements between several operators established
  • December 1993 - 32 networks on air in 18 areas
  • GSM World Congress Lisbon with 760 Participants
  • Telkom '93 held in Cape Town. First GSM systems shown.

1994

  • First GSM networks in Africa launched in South Africa
  • Phase 2 data/fax bearer services launched
  • Vodacom becomes first GSM network in the world to implement data/fax
  • GSM World Congress Athens with 780 Participants
  • December 1994 - 69 networks on air in 43 areas

1995

  • GSM MoU is formally registered as an Association registered in Switzerland - 156 members from 86 areas.
  • GSM World Congress Madrid with 1400 Participants
  • December 1995 117 networks on air in 69 areas
  • Fax, data and SMS roaming started
  • GSM phase 2 standardization is completed, including adaptation for PCS 1900 (PCS)
  • First PCS 1900 network live 'on air' in the USA
  • Telecom '95 Geneva - Nokia shows 33.6 kbps multimedia data via GSM
  • Namibia goes on-line
  • Ericsson 337 wins GSM phone of the year
  • US FCC auctions off PCS licenses

1996

  • GSM MoU is formally registered as an Association registered in Switzerland
  • December 1996 120 networks on air in 84 areas
  • GSM World Congress in Cannes
  • GSM MoU Plenary held in Atlanta GA, USA
  • 8K SIM launched
  • Pre-Paid GSM SIM Cards launched
  • Bundled billing introduced in South Africa
  • Libya goes on-line
  • Option International launches world's first GSM/Fixed-line modem

1997

  • Zimbabwe goes live
  • GSM World Congress Cannes 21/2/97
  • Mozambique goes live
  • Iridium birds launched
  • First dual-band GSM 900-1900 phone launched by Bosch

1998

  • Botswana GSM goes live
  • GSM World Congress Cannes (2/98)
  • Vodacom Introduces Free VoiceMail
  • MTN Gets Uganda Tender
  • GSM SIM Cracked in USA
  • Over 2m GSM 1900 users
  • MTN Gets Rwanda Tender
  • MTN follows with free voicemail
  • Rwanda GSM Live
  • First HSCSD trials in Singapore
  • Vodacom launches Yebo!Net 10/98
  • Iridium Live 11/98
  • First GSM Africa Conference (11/98)
  • 125m GSM 900/1800/1900 users worldwide (12/98)
  • Option International launches FirstFone
  • MTN launches CarryOver minutes

1999

  • GSM Conference in Cannes 2/99
  • 165m GSM 900/1800/1900 users worldwide
  • GPRS trials begin and USA and Scandanavia 1/99
  • WAP trials in France and Italy 1/99
  • CellExpo Africa 5/99
  • Eight Bidders for Third SA Cell License
  • GSM MoU Joins 3GPP
  • MTN SA Head of GSM MoU
  • First GPRS networks go live
  • Bluetooth specification v1.0 released

2000

  • GSM Conference in Cannes 3/2000
  • By 12/2000 480m GSM 900/1800/1900 users worldwide
  • First GPRS networks roll out
  • Mobey Forum Launched
  • MeT Forum Launched
  • Location Interoperability Forum Launched
  • First GPRS terminals seen
  • Nokia releases SmartMessaging spec
  • SyncML spec released

2001

  • GSM Conference in Cannes 2/2001
  • By 5/2001 500m GSM 900/1800/1900 users worldwide
  • 16 billion SMS message sent in April 2001
  • 500 million people are GSM users (4/01)






 
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