Zero Generation

0G – Mobile Radio Telephone

Wireless connectivity just as any other inventions has a lot to be told. The mobile radio telephone technology or as it is also called 0G, refers to pre-cellular mobile telephony technology in the 1970s. Even though not as swift as today, they laid the foundations for the forthcoming generation of truly wireless mobile telecommunications.

These mobile telephones were usually mounted in cars or trucks, though briefcase models were also made. Mobile radio telephone systems preceded modern cellular mobile telephony technology. Since they were the predecessors of the first generation of cellular telephones, these systems are sometimes referred to as 0G (Zero Generation) systems.

Technologies used in 0G systems included PTT (Push to Talk), MTS (Mobile Telephone Service), IMTS (Improved Mobile Telephone Service), AMTS (Advanced Mobile Telephone System), OLT (Norwegian for Offentlig Landmobil Telefoni, Public Land Mobile Telephony) and MTD .

It all started sometime around 1946, when Motorola and Bell System began operating the first commercial mobile phone service, known as MTS (Mobile Telephone System). And yes, back in those days calls were not connected automatically but by humans.

The so-called “mobile phones” were mainly installed in various kinds of vehicles, with a bulky transceiver neatly tucked somewhere in the trunk of the car, and a handset and a dialer positioned somewhere near the driver’s seat. Typically, the transceiver (transmitter-receiver) was mounted in the vehicle trunk and attached to the “head” (dial, display, and handset) mounted near the driver seat.

They were sold through WCCs (Wireline Common Carriers also called telephone companies or TELCOs), RCCs (Radio Common Carriers) and two-way radio dealers.

This allowed users to stay connected while out and about with their vehicles; although coverage was originally pretty scarce, to put it mildly. The few models that weren’t designed for car use were “briefcase” models which were also mainly used by some kind of specialists, who needed “extreme connectivity”.

0.5G is a group of technologies with improved feature than the basic 0G technologies. These early mobile telephone systems can be distinguished from earlier closed radiotelephone systems in that they were available as a commercial service that was part of the public switched telephone network, with their own telephone numbers, rather than part of a closed network such as a police radio or taxi dispatch system.

Typically, the transceiver (transmitter-receiver) was mounted in the vehicle trunk and attached to the “head” (dial, display, and handset) mounted near the driver seat. They were sold through various outlets, including two-way radio dealers. The primary users were loggers, construction foremen, realtors, and celebrities, for basic voice communication.

Early examples for this technology are:

  1. The Autoradiopuhelin (ARP) launched in 1971 in Finland as the country’s first public commercial mobile phone network.
  2. The B-Netz launched 1972 in Germany as the countries second public commercial mobile phone network (but the first one that did not require human operators anymore to connect calls)

Mobile telephones finally went fully automatic in 1962, when Bell System introduced IMTS, or Improved Mobile Telephone System. No longer was a person needed in order to connect the calls.

Coming as a beta version just a year later though from the USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) with love was the Altai system which is considered to be the first fully automatic mobile phone system in whole Europe. Altai became fully operational two years later, being gradually deployed across major cities in Russia. You may not believe it, but some variations of the Altai system are still in use today in some parts of Russia.

The Scandinavian countries, which were to become the pioneers of mobile devices in Europe, also had their fair share of 0G glory, with Norway deploying its first mobile system in about 1966, followed by Finland in 1971. The devices that were offered were still designed mainly for use in cars.

Meanwhile in the US, Bell and its IMTS had an interesting competitor in the form of the RCC technology, or Radio Common Carrier. RCC service providers were operated by most various companies, and although they were a force to be reckoned with, RCCs were basically doomed due to them not complying to any available technology standard.

Actually, some RCC providers, which happened to be in close proximity of one another, designed their gear so that it could work on each of their networks, but on the whole, RCC providers didn’t give much thought to the ability to “roam” seamlessly from one network to another, probably because they were too busy as they had to operate calls manually.

The RCC industry in the United States eventually started work on a unified standard, but this has obviously been too late, as shortly after that Bell introduced AMPS – the first true wireless telephone technology (1G) in the US, putting an end to its longtime rivalry with RCC providers. That caused a disruption to better the communication systems.

Some 0G devices.

0G1
A 0G telephone in use
Mobile_radio_telephone
A mobile radio telephone
Credits: Phonera Wikipedia