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
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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Heritage Community Foundation and
Telephone Historical Centre All Rights Reserved