April 3rd marks the 40th anniversary of the cellular phone. Shocked? I was a little surprised myself when I learned, or should I say remembered, the date of the first public wireless phone call. Martin Cooper of Motorola accomplished it on April 3, 1973 walking along Sixth Avenue in New York City. Most people don’t realize that cellular phones have been around that long, considering it took a lot longer for them to become as ubiquitous as they are today.

It wasn’t until the mid-to-late 1990s when mobile phones really started to penetrate markets in significant numbers. Today, there are about six billionmobile subscriptions worldwide. It is sometimes hard to remember life without the ability to make emergency calls immediately—let alone phone a friend, text and surf the web from anywhere, at any time. But it really wasn’t that long ago in the scheme of things. I guess that attests to how deeply humans desire and appreciate the ability to communicate with each other and stay connected.

I have only been working in the wireless world for about 20 years. But I have been fortunate to work with some long-time industry veterans, who have enabled and equipped cellular networks from the start. The evolution of cell sites and RF communications still fascinates me. Just compare the huge brick handset of the early days to the sleek, modern smart phones of today. What a huge leap forward! The underlying core architectures and radios have b with each generation of wireless technology, too.

Today, the actual cell sites are starting to take on a more modern look, feel and approach, even though most of them still look pretty much like they did in the ‘90s. That is an area I think we’ll start to see major changes in during the next few years.

CommScope continues to advance wireless network infrastructure solutions through its Andrew portfolio. This year we launched a new ebook called Understanding the RF Path that consolidates a lot of our engineers’ and technology experts’ collective wisdom about RF communications. We offer it to the industry as a free resource for insights about network concepts, equipment and installation techniques. You can use the link to download the digital version or request a user name and password for the mobile app. We are also running a blog series called “Meet the RF Experts” where contributors to the ebook expound further on a wireless topic. We have posted two of those so far with more to come.

So congrats to everyone in wireless on this 40th anniversary of the cellular phone. Here’s to another 40. I guess a natural question is what do you expect the future to hold for the wireless industry?

 Leave a comment to let us know what you think.

 

About the Author

Philip Sorrells

Philip Sorrells is vice president of strategic marketing for CommScope, a global leader in infrastructure solutions for communications networks. He is responsible for marketing strategy, linking key trends in the industry into marketing strategies for telecommunications networks.  Mr. Sorrells has 20 years of experience in the telecom industry with Allen Telecom, Andrew Corporation and CommScope, having spent 10 years prior with Texas Instruments. He has led the wireless industry in adopting many antenna system innovations—including remote electrical tilt (RET) technology for network optimization—and pioneering the concept of “agile networks,” which formed the basis for current initiatives in self-organizing networks. Mr. Sorrells has three patents related to antenna systems and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in engineering from Texas Tech University.

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