Cell phones could have been with us for decades before / SurprizingFacts

And the Federal Communications Commission is to blame for everything


The idea of ​​a cell phone was presented The public in 1945 – and not in the magazines "Popular Mechanics" or "Science", but even in the usual newspaper Saturday Evening Post. JK Jett, head of the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC), announced that millions of residents will soon be using "hand-held radios". They will need to issue licenses, but it "will not be difficult". Revolutionary technology, as Jett promised, will take shape in a few months.

But the project will not receive permission for the implementation. The government will not allocate a frequency range to implement the representation of engineers on "cellular radio" until 1982, and licenses for the conduct of activities will not be issued for another seven years. That's nothing bureaucratic delay.

Primitive phones and spectrum accumulation

Before the cell phones there was a mobile telephone service, MTS [не родня – прим. перев.]. This technology, launched in 1946, required cumbersome and expensive equipment – the transceiver would take up a whole trunk of the sedan – and the bandwidth of the networks had strict limitations. Initially, there were no more than 44 channels on the largest MTS markets. In 1976, the mobile network Bell System in New York could accommodate 545 subscribers. And even with the unreasonable cost of subscription, huge queues were built on it.

Cellular networks were a brilliant way of radical expansion of service. The separately taken market was divided into cells, in each of which the base station was put. These stations, often placed on towers to improve the probability of being in the line of sight of mobile phone users, could receive wireless signals and transmit them. The base stations were connected together, usually by wires, and connected to networks that provided good old telephone service.

The advantages of architecture were significant. Mobile radios could use less energy, because they needed to be hit only to the nearest base station, and not to the phone at the other end of the city. This not only prolonged the life of the battery, it allowed the transmissions to remain in their area and not to hammer down other cells. Communication with one cell would be transferred to another, neighboring, and then next, while the user would move in space. Additional capacity was achieved by reusing frequencies, from cell to cell. The cells could be divided, reaching even greater capacity. In the MTS system, each conversation entirely occupied one frequency available on the market. At the same time, only a few hundred conversations could go. The system of cells would create thousands of small cells and support hundreds of thousands of simultaneous conversations.

When AT & T wanted to start implementing the idea in 1947, the FCC rejected it, considering that the spectrum is best used for other services not "inherently To comfort or luxury. " This view of the service – a niche service for a tiny user base – existed until the second half of the 1980s. "Terrestrial mobile communications", the general category, which hit and cellular, was very low in the list of FCC priorities. In 1949, only 4.7% of the spectrum was allocated to it in a suitable range. Broadcasting was provided by 59.2%, and for government needs – a quarter.

Television became a FCC mission, and land mobile communication was some kind of fun. But Americans could simultaneously watch all the broadcasts on television in the 1960s, and use cell phones. However, television has been allocated much more spectrum than it ever used, with huge desert ranges of no-busy frequencies, which blocked mobile communication for longer than a generation.

How empty was this spectrum? In 210 television markets in America, 81 channel, provided for TV, created 17010 stations for stations. Of these, the FCC planned to authorize the 2002 TV station in 1952. By 1962, only 603 were transferred to the United States. Broadcasting companies zealously defended the idle bands. When mobile devotees tried to access the rarely used UHF band, broadcasters overwhelmed the commission with furious statements, constantly claiming that mobile service is an inefficient use of the range.

It may seem surprising that they defended vacant frequencies with such determination . Given that the licenses for commercial television were severely limited – they were enough to support only three national networks – they would have to consider a large number of unused channels as a threat. What if lawmakers were seriously concerned about increasing competition? Compression of the television range, which could occur due to the allocation of additional frequencies for mobile phones, could protect existing broadcasters from future competition. Why did they oppose him?

Answer: broadcasters that they have a strong enough veto power to prevent the emergence of competing stations. At the same time, they valued the possible cost of unused ranges. This decision paid off – years later unoccupied frequencies were given to existing broadcasters, free of charge, during the transition to digital television.

The delayed recipe

And at that time MTS earned its licensees called radio common carriers (RCC). The government sought to issue licenses only for two mobile operators – usually it was AT & T and the second, where as a smaller competitor. The FCC also gave out licenses for "private land mobile communications" to non-communications companies for internal use of wireless communications. This allowed, say, the airlines to manage the work with baggage at the airport, the freight train to check the paths allocated to it, or to the workers on the offshore oil platform to communicate with employees of the company located at the head office.

In 1968, there were 62,000 RCCs, divided almost evenly between AT & T and 500 tiny competitors. Licenses for private land mobile communications occupied a much larger part of the range (about 90%), and more phones participated in them. But compared to 326 million mobile customers in 2012, both these low-tech services were that fleas in comparison with the elephant.

The RCC actively fought with cellular communications, reasonably fearing that it would destroy their marginal and marginal activity. They had a powerful ally in the person of Motorola, at that time – an advanced company in the field of wireless technologies. RCC and private operators were excellent customers for Motorola, because they bought radio stations for several thousand dollars for each. Motorola's main rival, AT & T, was banned by the antitrust decree from selling mobile radios in 1956. Protecting its dominant position in the market meant protecting customers from competitors, so Motorola worked to keep the offensive of the cell phone revolution.

Bell Labs from AT & T conceived and developed cellular technology. But no matter how scientists were captured by the idea of ​​mobile phones, the company enjoyed a very lucrative monopoly position in the field of terrestrial communications. AT & T has taken the view that mobile services will not significantly increase corporate sales, so it did not aggressively push the new technology as it could. Because of this, the opponents of cellular communications successfully influenced the regulators for many years: formally AT & T requested permission to deploy mobile communications in 1958, but the FCC did not respond to this request until 1968.

In 1970, Agreed to allocate some of the spectrum for a new service. She offered to make room, moving the TV stations down from the channels from 70 to 83, and also allocated a few more unused frequencies. But the problem was far from complete resolution. From 1970 to 1982, cellular technology was captured by the whirlpool of legal chaos, and suffered from lawmaking, constant reassessment and judicial decisions. In a 1991 study published by the National Economic Research Association, it was argued that "if the FCC immediately began issuing licenses after a positive decision of 1970, then licenses for cellular communications would be issued already in 1972, and the systems could start working already In 1973 ". But it was profitable for a number of commercial enterprises to delay the work of the FCC.

Marty Cooper, vice president of Motorola, made the first cell phone call on a mobile phone in 1973. He could have made it from a pocket phone. Lawyers of Motorola made their calls, lobbying bureaucrats from the FCC to prevent them from building cellular networks. Motorola itself has harmed itself: it could become a leading player in the new market. By 2006, it was the world's second largest mobile phone seller, with sales exceeding 200 million units per year.