GSM celebrates 20 years

On July 1, 1991, the world’s first GSM call on a
commercial network was made between Finland’s former prime minister Harri
Holkeri and vice mayor of the city of Tampere Kaarina Suonio. The first GSM
network was built by Telenokia and Siemens – today’s Nokia Siemens Networks –
for the Finnish operator Radiolinja, now operating under the name Elisa.


During the call, Harri Holkeri and Kaarina Suonio
discussed the benefits of the new, digital, GSM technology, including superior
voice quality and security, and the fact that the phone’s identity is in the
SIM card, making it easy for consumers to choose the product they like.


The Global System for Mobile communications (GSM) was
adopted in 1987 as the European standard for digital mobile technology. This
second generation mobile technology could carry data as well as voice traffic.
GSM’s high-quality voice calls, easy international roaming and support for new
services such as text messaging (SMS) laid the foundations for a worldwide boom
in mobile phone use.



GSM was the first digital technology based on open
standards and one that made the widespread adoption of mobile phones possible,”
said Pekka Soini, head of corporate development office at Nokia Siemens


GSM continues to evolve and will be here in the coming
decades together with 3G and LTE as an essential building block of the mobile

We see continued GSM business opportunities in Single
RAN Advanced capable hardware modernizations, high-quality voice capacity
upgrades as well as smart device, machine-to-machine and high definition voice
enhancements. The latest innovation announced in June this year, the Orthogonal
Sub-Channel Dual Full Rate feature, is a software feature that allows up to 100
percent increase in voice capacity and significantly enhanced speech quality
for GSM,” Soini added.

When we were building up the system and creating the
first Nokia GSM phone that would make that first call very few of us dared to
dream about the future,” said Timo Ali-Vehmas, VP, compatibility & industry
collaboration, Nokia.

None of us back then imagined the huge impact GSM would
go on to have for the lives of billions of people around the world. Of course,
none of this could have been possible without the pioneering work by so many
bright minds in the industry over the last twenty years. That work continues
today and it is terrific to see GSM continuing to evolve and renew in many
exciting ways,” Ali-Vehmas added.

Nokia Siemens Networks technology directly supports 2.9
billion subscribers – almost half of the world’s population – in 365 GSM
networks in 143 countries. Nokia introduced its first digital handheld GSM
phone, the Nokia 1011, in 1992. Other iconic models have included the Nokia
2110, while the most popular model has been the Nokia 1100, of which more than
250 million have been sold.

By Team
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