Third-generation systems were first planned in 1992, when the ITU realized that mobile communications was playing an increasingly important role. An international study group predicted that mobile phones would rival fixed lines within ten years, a prediction that came true somewhat earlier in some countries. It began work on a project called FPLMTS (Future Public Land Mobile Telecommunications System), aiming to unite the world under a single standard.

The acronym was awkward even compared to other telecom jargon, so the ITU soon adopted the (slightly) friendlier name IMT-2000. IMT stands for International Mobile Telecommunications, and the number 2000 had three meanings. It was supposed to represent:

  • The year 2000, when the ITU hoped ...

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