Chapter 1

Introduction

Afif Osseiran, Jose F. Monserrat and Werner Mohr

1.1 Market and Technology Trends

Social, economic and political factors determine the development of the mobile communications business. Consumer demand, the economic performance of operators and government policies are some of the aspects that affect technological advances, operators' capital investments and the regulatory environment. The mobile communications sector has been characterized by a worldwide rapid increase in the number of users. During the 1980s only a handful of people had a mobile phone. At the end of the 1980s, the number of cellular subscribers was merely around 5 million. With the introduction of the Second Generation (2G) cellular systems in 1991, the ambition was to popularize progressively the usage of mobile phones by making them affordable to a large part of the population. Progress in micro electronics then made it possible to produce cheaper mobile phones. The technology advanced and gradually increasing competition between mobile vendors made it necessary to reduce the cost of cellular infrastructures. The second part of the 1990s, witnessed an extraordinary surge in the number of mobile subscribers in the developed countries. In total, the number was close to half a billion. Progress continued worldwide at a frenetic pace. According to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), in the last seven years the number of worldwide subscribers has grown from 1.7 billion to more ...

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