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Alberta's Telephone Heritage
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Wireless

Early mobile telephone in attaché case.The Bell Telephone Company introduced the first commercial version of a mobile phone on 28 June 1947. This particular phone was designed for use in the car, and it transmitted signals through various radio frequencies.

AT&T asked the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which regulated the assignment of radio frequencies, to set aside several bands for mobile phone transmission that year. The FCC allowed for a small number of signals at first, expanding them over time as the technology became more reliable. Naturally, the media were among the first to take advantage of this technology, in that it gave them the power to call in news stories from the site of their occurrence.

Dr. Martin Cooper, a researcher and later general manager of Motorola’s Communications Systems Division developed the first portable handset. While strolling down a New York City street, he used it to call his rival Joel Engel, lead researcher for Bell Labs, on April 3, 1973.

Despite beating its competitors to the finish line, Bell Labs, along with AT&T, had its own simple cellular systems up and running before Motorola did—about four years after that initial telephone call.

In 1983, Alberta Government Telephones launched its own system, called the AURORA-400. This provided rural areas with a degree of coverage not experienced before. They began offering competitive wireless service to the average consumer in 1986.

Early troubles gave way to rapid progress that had led to the level of cell coverage we see today.


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