Timeline of mobile telephony
This is a timeline of mobile telephony, attempting to describe the evolution of mobile phone networks, as well as crucial mobile device releases in relation to novel functionality.
|Time period||Development summary|
|1900s||Radio transmission is achieved by creating bursts of sparks generated by electrical voltages.|
|1930s||The idea of a cell phone begins.|
|1940s||Communication by mobile radios becomes more common. Most government agencies, as well as the rich people, own mobile radios. AT&T and Bell Labs introduce cellular technology. However, mobile phones would not develop widespread use at the time. US Signal Corps communicate via radio in field during World War 2.|
|1960s||Researchers develop the technology systems (like frequency reuse and handoff) that would lead to modern cellular networks. In the United States, Bell Labs prepares a detailed plan for implementing the cellular system. Soviet engineer Leonid Kupriyanovich develops very small mobile phones.|
|1970s||1G is developed by AT&T and Bell Labs early in the decade. Nippon Telephone and Telegraph (NTT) in Japan and Ericsson in Sweden begin testing cellular technology and start designing equipment that would facilitate commercial service provision in their respective home markets. The first mobile call is made.|
|1980s||1G is deployed. Mobile phone technology starts to be released commercially. Adding text messaging functionality to mobile devices begins.|
|1990s||Mobile telephony revolutionizes telecommunications during the decade. 2G Second–generation wireless telephone technology becomes available,  bringing the first digital systems to be deployed. Mobile phone operators start offering prepay mobile phones. European and American networks start to split apart and compete against one another.|
|2000s||Apple introduces the iPhone. Android operating system launches. 3G technology starts deployment.|
|2010s||A massive development in smartphone technology takes place. 4G technology starts deployment. Mobile telephony keeps extending into developing and least developed countries. 5G technology is still in development phase as no standard for its deployment has been concreted.|
|1876 (March 10)||Antecedent||Scottish-born Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor of the telephone, makes the first phone call.||United States|
|1894||Italian inventor Guglielmo Marconi transmits signals over the distance of 2 kms.|
|1906||Antecedent||Canadian-born inventor Reginald Fessenden manages to broadcast music through radio.||United States|
|1908||Antecedent||A man claims to have invented a wireless telephone. Being considered so crazy for this time, he is accused of fraud. The charges are later dropped.|
|1921||Antecedent||The Detroit Police Department introduce mobile radios in their police cars, giving rise to the car–to–car radios. However, the system doesn't work very well at the time.||United States|
|1924||Network launch||Wireless phones are tested on trains running between Berlin and Hamburg.||Germany|
|1940||Technology||Second World War: Hand-held radio receivers become widely available, opening up communications in battlefields around the world.|
|1945||Network launch||The first service created just for mobile phones launches in Saint Louis, but the service doesn't work well and it does not last.||United States|
|1946 (June)||Network launch||American company Bell Labs begins to offer mobile telephone services on vehicles in Saint Louis. A few weeks later, AT&T matches Bell Labs, offering its Mobile Telephone Service (0G equivalent), at the time a wide range of mostly incompatible mobile telephone services with limited coverage areas and a small number of available channels.|
|1946||Network launch||Interconnection of mobile transmitters and receivers with the Public switched telephone network (PSTN) begins in the United States, with the introduction of Mobile Telephone Service (MTS) by the American Telephone and Telegraph Company.||United States|
|1947||Technology||Engineers at Bell Labs seek ways to implement cell service in vehicles, theorizing that hexagonal cells would work best for them. The first car phone service is attempted. A car phone service opens between Boston and New York, but this service soon fails. The same year, base stations for mobile phones come into being when engineers from Bell Labs develop the first stations.||United States|
|1947||Bell Labs is the first company to propose a cellular radio telephone network.||United States|
|1948||Service coverage||The Mobile Telephone Service, initially only available in Saint Louis, becomes now available in about 100 towns in the United States. Using this service, an estimated 5,000 customers place approximately 30,000 calls each week. Each call has to be manually connected by an operator. The system also functions similar to a Walkie-Talkie: a button must be pushed down talk, then released to listen. The Mobile Telephone Service requires about 36kg of equipment in the vehicle. Expensive, it costs approximately US$ 15 per month (same buying power as $154.76 in 2017) plus an additional $0.30 to $0.40 per local call. ||United States|
|1952||Network launch||A-Netz network is launched as a Mobile Radio Network in West Germany.||West Germany|
|1956||Service launch||The first ever partly automatic car phone system, Mobile System A (MTA), is introduced in Sweden. ||Sweden|
|1960||Network launch||Ericsson Company releases the first fully automated mobile telephone. Introduced in Sweden, the system, known in Swedish as Mobiltelefonisystem A (MTA), allows for automated connection from a rotary handset (that’s the circular dialing knob to me and you) mounted within a car, but requires an operator to forward calls.||Sweden|
|1963||Network launch||Altai mobile telephone system (системы "Алтай") is introduced as a pre-cellular 0G radiotelephone service in the Soviet Union.||Soviet Union|
|1957–1961||Product development||Soviet engineer Leonid Kupriyanovich develops a number of mobile phones that look surprisingly similar to modern mobile devices. One of these devices weighs just 70 grams and can fit into the palm of the hand.|
|1959||Network launch||The Post Office Radiophone Service is launched in Manchester. The system requires callers to connect through an operator. However, that operator could connect users to any subscriber across all of Great Britain.||United Kingdom|
|1962||AT&T develops a prototype for the first generation cellular mobile communications technology.||United States|
|1962||Network launch||Swedish Mobiltelefonisystem A (MTA) is replaced by Mobiltelefonisystem B (MTB), which uses transistorized mobile sets. This system would last until 1983.||Sweden|
|1964||Pre-cellular VHF/UHF radio system launch||Improved Mobile Telephone Service (IMTS) is introduced by AT&T as a replacement to Mobile Telephone Service (MTS) and improved on most MTS systems by offering direct-dial rather than connections through a live operator.|
|1968||System standard development||Bell Labs starts developing the Advanced Mobile Phone System (AMPS) standard.||United States|
|1969||Penn Central Railroad equips commuter trains along the New York-Washington route with special pay phones that allow passengers to place telephone calls while the train is moving.||United States|
|1969||Program launch||Engineers from the Nordic countries meet and set up the first mobile phone system international standard, the Nordic Mobile Telephony (NMT).||Scandinavia|
|1971||New term||The term cell comes into play when AT&T proposes splitting phone service into different areas across the cities. These areas are called cells.||United States|
|1971||Network launch||Autoradiopuhelin (ARP) network is launched in Finland. It is one of the first successful public commercial mobile phone networks.||Finland|
|1972||Network launch||B-Netz mobile radio network is launched in West Germany.||Germany|
|1973||Technology||10 years before a cell phone was first released onto the market, Martin Cooper, a Motorola researcher and executive, makes the first analog mobile phone call using a heavy prototype model. The communication is carried out between Cooper and Joel S. Engel of Bell Labs.||United States|
|1979 (December)||Network launch||1G, the first generation of wireless telephone technology, is launched in Japan by Nippon Telegraph and Telephone (NTT). It becomes the world's first mobile phone network to be launched. Initially deployed in the metropolitan area of Tokyo, within five years, the NTT network expand to cover the whole population of Japan and becomes the first nationwide 1G network.||Japan|
|1981–1986||Network launch||The Nordic Mobile Telephone (NMT) system opens in Sweden and Norway. NMT is the first mobile phone network to feature international roaming. The system is introduced in Denmark and Finland in 1982, and in Iceland in 1986.||Scandinavia, Finland|
|1981||Network launch||The Saudi mobile phone network becomes operational.||Saudi Arabia|
|1982||Policy||The European standard for protorypes is established.|
|1982||Ericsson constructs the first European cellular systems for use by service providers in Scandinavia.|
|1983||Network launch||The Advanced Mobile Phone System (AMPS) is officially introduced in North America. The system would further expand into Canada in 1985, later in Mexico, Colombia, Korea, Australia, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, New Zealand, Pakistan, the Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam and finally all Latin American countries.|
|1983 (March 6)||Product release||The Motorola DynaTAC 8000X becomes the first mobile for sale in the United States. It costs US$ 4000 (equivalent to $9,894.75 in 2017). 1G network launches in the country, with Chicago-based Ameritech using the Motorola DynaTAC mobile phone. American engineer Martin Cooper is credited with developing the device.||United States|
|1983||Network launch||The Total Access Communication System (TACS) (1G) is released in the United Kingdom as a variant of the Advanced Mobile Phone System (AMPS).||United Kingdom|
|1983||Network launch||AMR radiotelephone network (Automatizovaný Městský Radiotelefon in Czech language) enters full mode as the very first analog mobile radio telephone in Czechoslovakia.||Czechoslovakia|
|1984||Network launch||Airborne cellular systems: The North American terrestrial system (NATS) is introduced in the United States by GTE Corporation.||United States|
|1985||Coverage||The Nordic Mobile Telephone grows to 110,000 subscribers in Scandinavia and Finland, 63,300 in Norway alone, which makes it the world's largest mobile network at the time.|
|1985||The first mobile call in the United Kingdom is made.||United Kingdom|
|1985||Network launch||The Radio Telephone Network C (C-Netz), is introduced in Germany as a first generation analog cellular phone system.||Germany|
|1985||Study||A study group of the Geneva-based International Telecommunication Union (ITU) begins to consider specifications for Future Public Land Mobile Telephone Systems (FPLMTS). These specifications would eventually become the basis for a set of “third-generation” (3G) cellular standards, known collectively as IMT-2000.|
|1988||Program launch||A group of government-owned public telephone bodies within the European Community announce the creation of a digital Global System for Mobile Communications (originally Groupe Spécial Mobile), referred to as GSM, the first such system that would permit any cellular user in one European country to operate in another European country with the same equipment. GSM would soon become ubiquitous throughout the continent.|
|1989||Product||Motorola MicroTAC 9800X is released. It becomes the first phone to feature a flip–down, and also the smallest and lightest phone available at the time.|
|1990||Technology||The old AMPS networks are replaced by Digital AMPS (D-AMPS).|
|1990||Expansion||There are 12.5 millions subscriptions to mobile telephony worldwide.|
|1991||Technology||Second-generation (2G) cellular telecom networks are commercially launched on the GSM standard in Finland by Radiolinja (now part of Elisa Oyj). The first wireless Internet access becomes available as part of this generation.. Developed to serve voice communication, 2G is first digital transmission system in mobile communication in history. Also, the first GSM call is made by the Finnish prime minister in the country.||Finland|
|1992 (December 3)||Technology||Software architect Neil Papworth sends the first text message saying "Merry Christmas" to Richard Jarvis, a director at Vodafone.||United Kingdom|
|1992||Network launch||The European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) adopts a terrestrial Aeronautical Public Correspondence (APC) system known as the terrestrial flight telephone system (TFTS).|
|1992||Digital mobile telephony introduction||Digital mobile telephony is commercially introduced in Andorra, Denmark, Finland, France, Gabon, Germany, Hong Kong, Portugal, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.||Andorra, Denmark, Finland, France, Gabon, Germany, Hong Kong, Portugal, Sweden, United Kingdom|
|1993||Technology||The first SMS text message is sent in Finland.||Finland|
|1993||Digital mobile telephony introduction||Digital mobile telephony is commercially introduced in Australia, Austria, Greece. Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore, Switzerland, United States and Nicaragua.||Australia, Austria, Greece. Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore, Switzerland, United States, Nicaragua|
|1994 (August 16)||Product release||The IBM Simon is released, featuring a touchscreen and is the first phone to feature apps. It costs US$ 899. The IBM Simon is considered by many to be the world’s first smartphone.||United States|
|1994||Digital mobile telephony introduction||Digital mobile telephony is commercially introduced in Belgium, the Channel Islands, Hungary, Iceland, Israel, Kuwait, Malaysia, Netherlands, Qatar, South Africa, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Cameroon, China, Fiji, Indonesia, Iran, Madagascar, Morocco, Pakistan, Philippines, Russia, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam.||Belgium, the Channel Islands, Hungary, Iceland, Israel, Kuwait, Malaysia, Netherlands, Qatar, South Africa, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Cameroon, China, Fiji, Indonesia, Iran, Madagascar, Morocco, Pakistan, Philippines, Russia, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam|
|1995||Digital mobile telephony introduction||Digital mobile telephony is commercially introduced in Bahrain, Canada, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Estonia, French Polynesia, Lebanon, Macao, New Caledonia, Puerto Rico, Seychelles, Spain, Bulgaria, Colombia, Republic of Congo, Georgia, Gibraltar, India, Jordan, Kyrgyzistan, Lao, Latvia, Lithuania, Malawi, Myanmar, Namibia, Reunion, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Tanzania, Tonga, Uganda and Uzbekistan.||Bahrain, Canada, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Estonia, French Polynesia, Lebanon, Macao, New Caledonia, Puerto Rico, Seychelles, Spain, Bulgaria, Colombia, Republic of Congo, Georgia, Gibraltar, India, Jordan, Kyrgyzistan, Lao, Latvia, Lithuania, Malawi, Myanmar, Namibia, Reunion, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Tanzania, Tonga, Uganda, Uzbekistan|
|1996||Product release||The Nokia Communicatoris released. It is the first mobile phone to enable internet connectivity and wireless email creating a new category of multi-use devices called smartphones.|
|1996||Product release||Palm OS is launched as a discontinued mobile operating system, designed for ease of use with a touchscreen-based graphical user interface.|
|1996 (January)||Product release||The Motorola StarTAC is release as a clamshell mobile phone. Manufactured by Motorola is the first ever clamshell/flip mobile phone.||United States|
|1996||Product release||The Nokia 8110 is launched. Its distinctive styling is the first example of a 'slider' form factor.|
|1996||Digital mobile telephony introduction||Digital mobile telephony is commercially introduced in Argentina, Brazil, Brunei, Czechia, Dominica, Guam, South Korea, Libya, Mauritius, Oman, Panama, Poland, Saudi Arabia, Slovenia, Venezuela, Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia Herzegovina, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cote D'Ivoire, Ecuador, Egypt, Ghana, Guadalupe, Guernsey, Kenya, Lesotho, Macedonia, Mongolia, Senegal, Sudan, Ukraine, Yugoslavia, and Zimbabwe.||Argentina, Brazil, Brunei, Czechia, Dominica, Guam, South Korea, Libya, Mauritius, Oman, Panama, Poland, Saudi Arabia, Slovenia, Venezuela, Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia Herzegovina, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cote D'Ivoire, Ecuador, Egypt, Ghana, Guadalupe, Guernsey, Kenya, Lesotho, Macedonia, Mongolia, Senegal, Sudan, Ukraine, Yugoslavia, Zimbabwe,|
|1997||Product release||Dutch technology company Philips introduces "The Synergy", an early attempt at a digital smartphone. The unit provides wireless access to e-mail, internet and faxes.|
|1997 (December)||Product release||Nokia 6110 is launched. Hugely popular, It is the first phone from Nokia to have the popular Snake game pre-installed. |
|1997||Digital mobile telephony introduction||Digital mobile telephony is commercially introduced in Barbados, Bermuda, Chile, Malta, Slovakia, Uruguay, Virgin Islands, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Cape Verde, Guinea, Martinique, Mozambique, Romania, Togo and Zambia.||Barbados, Bermuda, Chile, Malta, Slovakia, Uruguay, Virgin Islands, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Cape Verde, Guinea, Martinique, Mozambique, Romania, Togo, Zambia|
|1997–1998||Network launch||The Iridium system is introduced as the first LEO system intended for commercial service. It is designed by Motorola, and owned by Iridium LLC. The Iridium concept employs a constellation of 66 satellites orbiting in six planes around Earth, and are launched from May 1997 to May 1998. Commercial service begins in November 1998.|
|1998||Mobile payments are trialled in Finland and Sweden.||Finland, Sweden|
|1998||Digital mobile telephony introduction||Digital mobile telephony is commercially introduced in Bahamas, Botswana, Cayman Islands, Dominica, Faroe Islands, Greenland, Mexico, Trinidad and Tobago, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guyana, Moldova, Paraguay, Peru, Rwanda, Swaziland and Tunisia.||Bahamas, Botswana, Cayman Islands, Dominica, Faroe Islands, Greenland, Mexico, Trinidad and Tobago, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guyana, Moldova, Paraguay, Peru, Rwanda, Swaziland, Tunisia|
|1999||Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) technical standard is made available for mobile devices.|
|1999||Product release||Nokia Series 40 mobile operating system is introduced with the release of Nokia 7110 device.|
|1999||Digital mobile telephony introduction||Digital mobile telephony is commercially introduced in Algeria, Angola, Belarus, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Cuba, Ethiopia}}, Guatemala, Haiti, Jamaica, Kazakhstan, Maldives, Nepal, Syria, West Bank and Gaza.||Algeria, Angola, Belarus, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Cuba, Ethiopia}}, Guatemala, Haiti, Jamaica, Kazakhstan, Maldives, Nepal, Syria, West Bank, Gaza|
|1999–2002||Globalstar is released as a LEO system, consisting in 48 satellites that are launched about the same time as the Iridium constellation. Globalstar begins offering service in October 1999, though it would go into bankruptcy in 2002. A further reorganized Globalstar LP would continue to provide service thereafter.|
|1999||The first mobile commercial payment system to mimic banks and credit cards is launched in the Philippines, simultaneously by mobile operators Globe Telecom and Smart Communications.|
|2000||Network launch||Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) networks evolve into General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) (2.5G) and become available.|
|2000 (June)||Product release||South Korean multinational conglomerate Samsung releases SCH-V200, which integrates digital camera and mobile phone in a unit that can take up to 20 pictures at 640 x 480 (350,000 pixel CCD, 1 MB internal storage).||South Korea|
|2000 (November)||Product release||Japanese multinational Sharp Corporation releases the J-SH04 mobile phone, the first ever phone with a built-in camera (110,000-pixel CMOS) and color display (256-color display).||Japan|
|2000||Digital mobile telephony introduction||Digital mobile telephony is commercially introduced in Dominica, Grenada, Santa Lucia, Anguilla, Benin, Burundi, Chad, Equatorial Guinea, Honduras, Mali, Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Sierra Leone, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan.||Dominica, Grenada, Santa Lucia, Anguilla, Benin, Burundi, Chad, Equatorial Guinea, Honduras, Mali, Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Sierra Leone, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan|
|2001 (October)||Product release||Nokia 5510 is released, featuring a full QWERTY keyboard.|
|2001 (October)||Network launch||The third generation of wireless mobile telecommunications technology 3G (FOMA W-CDMA services on the 2GHz) is launched in Japan, with a system offered by NTT DoCoMo. For the first time, mobile devices are fast enough to support online video and music streaming. Developed to serve data communication, 3G can send 10 times more data than 2G.||Japan|
|2002||Product release||The first smart phone is invented.|
|2002 (June)||Organization||The Open Mobile Alliance (OMA) is formed as a standards body with aims at developing open standards for the mobile phone industry.|
|2002||Product release||The Sanyo SCP–5300 is released. It allows users to view photos on a screen for the first time, instead of plugging it into a computer.|
|2002||Research||Finnish scientists claim that the electromagnetic radiation affect brain tissue.|
|2003||Product release||The Nokia 1100 is released. It would become the biggest–selling phone of all time.|
|2003–2007||Expansion||Mobile phone users surpass those using landline telephone in the United States.|
|2004||Research||German–led European laboratory study using mouse models announces that mobile radiation could cause genetic damage.|
|2005||Product release||The Casio GZ'One is released as the first waterproof phone.|
|2005||Mobile operating system Android is acquired by Google. This step shows that Google is serious about developing mobile technology.||United States|
|2005||Policy||The Cell Phone Recycle Act is passed in California.||United States|
|2005||Policy||The Finnish government decides that the fastest way to warn citizens of disasters is the mobile phone network.||Finland|
|2006||Study||British researcher at the University of Staffordshire links mental wellbeing issues, such as stress, to mobile use.||United Kingdom|
|2006 (June)||Network launch||The world's first commercial mobile WiMAX service is opened by KT in Seoul. ||South Korea|
|2007||Product release||Steve Jobs unveils the Apple Iphone, which is released. It has finger–input touchscreen, no keyboard, intuitive interface and apps|
|2007||Policy||Google opens Android operating system for free development and use, making its own services default for search, video and email.|
|2007||Network launch||The first 4G network is launched in South Korea.||South Korea|
|2007||Coverage||The total number of mobile phone subscribers in the world is estimated at 3.3 billion, equivalent of over half the planet's population. 295 million 3G users are estimated around the world. This number accounts for 9% of the total worldwide number of mobile users.|
|2008||Policy||The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) sets forward a list of requirements for what it calls IMT Advanced, or 4G. These requirements include data rates of 1 gigabit per second for a stationary user and 100 megabits per second for a moving user.|
|2008||Network shutdown||The whole Advanced Mobile Phone System (AMPS) service is shut down across North America. This would be considered the end of an era.|
|2008||Product release||HTC corporation releases the HTC Dream the first commercially released device to use the Linux-based Android operating system.|
|2008 (july 10)||Product release||The App Store (iOS) is launched, featuring 552 apps, 135 of which are free.|
|2008||Product shutdown||Microsoft deprecates windows mobile, saying that it can't compete with iPhone and Android. The development of Windows Phone begins.||United States|
|2009 (January)||Product launch||Whatsapp is launched.|
|2009||Network launch||Swedish telephone company TeliaSonera introduces the first 4G LTE network in Stockholm.||Sweden|
|2010||Samsung, Nokia, LG Electronics, ZTE Corporation and Apple Inc. altogether control more than 70% of the world mobile phone market.|
|2010||Policy||The International Telecommunication Union decides that two technologies, LTE-Advanced (Long Term Evolution; LTE) and WirelessMan-Advanced (also called WiMAX), meet the requirements for a 4G.|
|2012||Organization||The British Government announces the establishment of a 5G Innovation Centre at the University of Surrey.||United Kingdom|
|2014||Acquisition||American corporation Facebook acquires Whatsapp for US$ 19 billion.||United States|
|2015 (September)||Program launch||Verizon Communications announces a roadmap to begin testing 5G in field trials in the United States in 2016.|
|2016 (February)||NTT DoCoMo and Ericsson succeed in World's first trial to achieve a cumulative 20Gbit/s with two simultaneously connected mobile devices in 5G outdoor trial.|
|2017 (April)||Huawei announces having jointly with Telenor conducted successful 5G tests with speeds up to 70 Gbit/s in a controlled lab environment in Norway.||Norway|
|2017 (July)||Telecom Italia Mobile signs a memorandum of understanding with the government of San Marino to upgrade its 4G network to 5G. It would be the first nationwide 5G network in the world.||Italy, San Marino|
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