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World Telecommunication Day 2024: From landline to 5G, how communication system changed in last 55 years?

World Telecommunication Day is celebrated annually on 17 May 1969, marking the founding of ITU and the signing of the first International Telegraph Convention in 1865. Here's how communication technology has changed since its beginning.

Written By: Om Gupta New Delhi Published on: May 17, 2024 13:21 IST
World Telecommunication Day 2024
World Telecommunication Day 2024

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) celebrates World Telecommunication Day every year on 17 May. World Telecommunication Day is officially celebrated as World Telecommunication and Information Society Day. Every year, telecom unions around the world discuss telecom services and their impact. The first telephone call was made by Alexander Graham Bell on 10 March 1876. After this, the communication revolution started in the world. World Telecommunication Day was celebrated for the first time on 17 May 1969. In the last 55 years, telecom services have shifted from landlines to 5G smartphones.

History of World Telecommunication Day

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) was established on 17 May 1969, and this day is celebrated as World Telecommunication Day. The International Telegraph Convention was signed for the first time on this day in 1865. In November 2005, the World Summit was organised by the Information Society, and the United Nations (UN) was requested to celebrate this day as World Information Society Day, which was accepted by the UN General Assembly. Since then, World Telecommunication and Information Society Day has been celebrated on 17 May.

Communication has become even easier since the advent of the Internet. ITU discussed e-commerce for the first time on World Communication Day in 1999. This was followed by discussions on mobile communication in the year 2000 and the Internet and its challenges and opportunities in 2001. This year's theme has been kept as Digital Innovation for Sustainable Development. In the last 55 years, since the establishment of the International Telecommunication Union, the communication system has progressed all over the world. Let's take a look at that.

How much has the communication system changed in 55 years?

The first mobile call was made on 3 April 1973, four years after the formation of the International Telecommunication Union. Martin Cooper, a researcher and executive at Motorola, made this historic call. The mobile handset he used weighed 2 kg. Today's mobile handsets are much lighter in weight than the first mobile phones.

First commercial mobile service

In 1979, the Japanese company NTT started the first commercial mobile service in Tokyo. In 1981, Nordic Mobile Telephone (NMT) launched commercial mobile services in Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden. Subsequently, in 1983, the American telecom company Ameritech started commercial mobile service in Chicago. Mobile service was initiated for the first time in India on July 31, 1995. A company named Modi Telstra launched a commercial mobile service in Kolkata under the name of MobileNet.

2G Service

The second generation of mobile communication, known as 2G, was introduced in 1991. The 2G service, based on the GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) standard, was first launched in Finland. This marked the beginning of accessing the internet and data through mobile communication. In India, BSNL introduced 2G service for the first time in 1995. Following this, telecom companies such as Airtel, Reliance India Mobile, Hutch, and Idea launched the EDGE service, an advanced version of 2G, which enabled faster access to internet data.

3G Service

NTT Docomo, the company that launched mobile service commercially for the first time, started 3G service in 1998. Research and development for 3G services began in the 1980s. The launch of the 3G service enabled audio-video calling and internet access on mobile at a maximum speed of 2 Mbps. In India, 3G service was launched on 11 December 2008, with MTNL introducing it in Delhi and Mumbai.

4G service

On 14 December 2009, the first commercial 4G service was launched in Norway by the Swedish-Finnish network operator TeliaSonera. This marked a significant improvement in internet access, with 4G providing speeds up to 10 times faster than 3G. The introduction of 4G has been a major driving force behind the digital revolution, leading to an increase in IoT devices and the development of a diverse 4G ecosystem. Airtel introduced 4G service in India on 10 April 2012, starting in Kolkata and subsequently expanding to Bengaluru, Pune, and Chandigarh.

5G Service

Currently, the fifth generation of mobile communication, 5G service, has been launched or is being launched worldwide. With this mobile communication, the internet can be accessed at a speed of 1Gbps. South Korean telecom company SK Telecom first launched a commercial 5G service in April 2019. Subsequently, the 5G service began in China, America, and Japan. India saw the launch of the 5G service on 1 October 2022 at the India Mobile Congress. Airtel and Jio have provided 5G services in every telecom circle across India. 5G service has made communication between machines and humans easier. With the rise of Artificial Intelligence (AI), virtual travel around the world has become possible.

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