Mobile Communications Evolution

A Brief History of the Mobile Communications Technology Adoption Cycle

Alan D. Wilensky


Mobile communication technology has been evolving since the first Motorola two-way FM systems became available in 1941. The most interesting and important hallmark of this evolution has been the gradual decoupling of the mobile transceiver from the central base system. This decoupling began well before the digital era, and is especially interesting due to the role that Nextel (previously ‘Fleet Call’), played in the maturation of these decentralized applications.

This evolution of mobile units became a revolution when Nextel offered two-way radio PTT services by subscription. The availability of this Direct Connect service obviated any need for a subscriber to be associated with a central base station, but still allowed calling to groups and logically defined central dispatch; Nextel created a way for mobile subscribers to eliminate the need for central base station or repeater system ownership and licensing.

The final act in this revolution was the advent of mobile data. The ability to assign public, private and other forms of system-wide addressability, created an entirely new communications model.

The transition was not always smooth sailing. But the reader will see a parallel to the ThruDispatch model, where the same transition from captive fleet models of central voice applications were liberated from the bounds of system ownership, so is ThruDispatch a similar model of liberating end-users from the central data dispatch model. Continue reading