Evolution from 2G over 3G to 4G

In the past 15 years, fixed line and wireless telecommunication as well as the Internet have developed both very quickly and very slowly depending on how one looks at the domain. To set current and future developments into perspective, the first chapter of this book gives a short overview of major events that have shaped these three sectors in the previous one-and-a-half decades. While the majority of the developments described below took place in most high-tech countries, local factors and national regulation delayed or accelerated events. Therefore, the time frame is split up into a number of periods and specific dates are only given for country-specific examples.

1.1 First Half of the 1990s – Voice-centric Communication

Fifteen years ago, in 1993, Internet access was not widespread and most users were either studying or working at universities or in a few select companies in the IT industry. At this time, whole universities were connected to the Internet with a data rate of 9.6 kbit/s. Users had computers at home but dial-up to the university network was not yet widely used. Distributed bulletin board networks such as the Fidonet [1] were in widespread use by the few people who were online then.

It can therefore be said that telecommunication 15 years ago was mainly voice-centric from a mass market point of view. An online telecom news magazine [2] gives a number of interesting figures on pricing around that time, when the telecom monopolies ...

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