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Happy 20th birthday GSM – look how you’ve grown

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September 6, 2007

September 6, 2007 Tomorrow is the 20th anniversary of the signing of the document which created the Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) network and the fastest technology adoption in history. GSM now serves more than 2.5 billion people, with another 1.2 million new connections every day and there will be 4 billion mobile connections in the world by early 2010 – with GSM accounting for 85% of the world’s mobile connections, mobile is heading for ubiquity in even less developed countries - 64% of mobile users are in emerging markets. The first text message was sent in 1992 and now 7 billion text messages are sent every day. Mobile operators have spent more than US$234 billion building GSM and 3GSM networks in the last five years and last year cellular services accounted for 1.6% of the global economy. So it’s a big happy birfy from us to a technology that, all PR prose aside, is changing the world. The pic is the Nokia 1100 which is the world's best selling phone with more than 200 million units sold.

More than 80% of the world's population live within the footprint of GSM networks from the more than 700 mobile operators - EVERY country in the world has a GSM network.

Initially signed by 15 telecommunications operators from 13 countries, the ‘Memorandum of Understanding’ agreement of September 7, 1987 laid the foundation for the first Europe-wide digital cellular system, which soon became the world’s first global mobile system. The agreement also triggered a technology evolution path that continues today with the roll-out of more than 120 mobile broadband networks in 61 countries.

It took 12 years to get to 1 billion GSM connections and just 30 months to get to 2 billion – this year alone, more than 1 billion mobile phones will be sold.

Perhaps more a reflection on pricing than anything else, research shows people spend 40% more time on mobile calls than they did in 2000

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About the Author
Mike Hanlon Mike grew up thinking he would become a mathematician, accidentally started motorcycle racing, got a job writing road tests for a motorcycle magazine while at university, and became a writer. As a travelling photojournalist during his early career, his work was published in a dozen languages across 20+ countries. He went on to edit or manage over 50 print publications, with target audiences ranging from pensioners to plumbers, many different sports, many car and motorcycle magazines, with many more in the fields of communication - narrow subject magazines on topics such as advertising, marketing, visual communications, design, presentation and direct marketing. Then came the internet and Mike managed internet projects for Australia's largest multimedia company, Telstra.com.au (Australia's largest Telco), Seek.com.au (Australia's largest employment site), top100.com.au, hitwise.com, and a dozen other internet start-ups before founding Gizmag in 2002. Now he writes and thinks. All articles by Mike Hanlon
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