Mobile phones are basically computers that operate over radio networks. The base stations
are one important component which create the universe of possibilities of what the
mobiles can do. Depending on the generation of the system, different capabilities are
The first mobile network, so called 1st generation, could relay speech from one mobile
phone to another. The speech was analog, so there was no analog-to-digital conversion.
Because of the speech signal being totally analog and without encryption, all conversations
could be easily eavesdropped. The NMT network operated in the 900 MHz frequency. When a
standard is set, the frequencies usually have to be internationally locked. In the coming GSM standard this standardization (excuse me the language) was a key player. Without it,
the flexible use of mobile phone around the world would not have been possible.
2nd generation system was essentially digital. Speech was digitized, and the bits were
compressed using very sophisticated algorithms. Because of compressing, a mobile phone
would save bandwidth. A mere 9.6 kBps or 9600 bits per second is sufficient to relay
speech. In addition to compression, the signal was encrypted so that eavesdropping
is not possible.
The 2nd gen. system was designed to have open standards, which improved the
market penetration. Since telecom companies could freely choose the equipment providers,
costs were kept at bay. GSM is a global success.
3G or third generation network increased the capacity of traffic between a phone
and the base station. Of course as with any new technology, the mobile phones have
to be specifically tailored to have 3G enabling chips.
The 4G network is a collection of new technology, but it essentially builds on the 3G.
There are interesting benefits what the new infrastructure can provide. A basic but often
needed thing is the increased transfer speeds. And we’re not talking just 2x speeds, but
an estimated 30x … 100x increases.
How has the culture of mobility evolved?
At first mobile phones were really bulky. A Motorola Dynatac 8000x mobile weighted
794 grams (28 ounces). Current phones in the year 2009 are a little bit over 80 grams;
take Nokia 6120 Classic, which weighs 89 grams. There are probably models which are
even less. Only people with “true need” had mobiles; police, firemen, people who
needed to receive orders or customer phone calls on the move. Then the phones
began to move into mainstream direction. Nowadays in 2009 you are an exception
if you’re carrying a mobile phone in your pocket. Some people abstain for a reason.
Some politicians are struggling with the amount of calls and messages they receive.
The culture of mobility is wide concept. There have been both practical and social
factors in shaping the culture. Social factors are by no means insignificant. In some
countries it may be considered extremely rude that one talks to a mobile phone. And in
other the context dictates a lot. It’s considered bad behaviour to talk to a mobile
in classroom, meetings, the church, cinema, or in the presence of your spouse – in
general, where talking may interfere with people’s concentration and mood.
The evolution of mobile phone use is tied in with the technology that phones offer.
First mobiles were very simple; they basically had the keypad and possibility to make
phone calls. The screen is black-and-white, with a poor resolution. Viewing images
or doing anything else was considered unnecessary. Then the evolution of the
phones started to bring whole new kind of features:
* calculators and other utility programs
* phonebooks (list of numbers and names)
* alarm clocks
* instant messenger
* playback of music
* video call capability
* GPS navigation
* viewing TV
Even now as of 2009, the general population uses quite scarce amount of services.
According to a recent research only a mere 1/4 of Finns use mobile services. These
services are considered difficult to install, use, and the payment methods
The iPhone seems to be one great ice-breaker that has increased network and service
usage considerably. It’s largely due to the immediate presentation of these
services in the phone’s user interface, and general good usability.