History

Brief History of GSM & the GSMA

1982

Groupe Speciale Mobile (GSM) is formed by the Confederation of European Posts and Telecommunications (CEPT) to design a pan-European mobile technology.

1984

France and Germany sign a joint development agreement for GSM.

1985

‘GAP’ (Groupe d’Analyse et de Prevision’) meetings took place that led to the European Commission endorsement of the GSM project.

1986

EU Heads of State endorse the GSM project. The European Commission initiative proposes to reserve 900MHz spectrum band for GSM, agreed in the EC Telecommunications Council.

Quadripartite agreement between France, Germany, Italy and the UK cooperation agreement signed (to support the standards work and exchange research data).

Trials of different digital radio transmission schemes and different speech codecs in several countries, with comparative evaluation by CEPT GSM in Paris.

1987

Basic parameters of the GSM standard agreed in February.

Proposal agreed by four ministers from the quadripartite countries to create an Operator Agreement in the form of a ‘Memorandum of Understanding’. The ‘MoU’ was drawn up and signed in Copenhagen in September by 15 members from 13 countries that committed to deploying GSM.

1988

Completion of first set of detailed GSM specifications for infrastructure tendering purposes.

Simultaneous issue of invitation to tender for networks by ten GSM network operators – all subsequently signed in the same year.

1989

Groupe Speciale Mobile (transferred to an ETSI technical committee) defines the GSM standard as the internationally accepted digital cellular telephony standard.

The UK’s Department of Trade & Industry (DTI) produced a document ‘Phones on the Move’ that first proposed PCN (Personal Communications Networks (later known as DCS 1800 and subsequently GSM 1800) networks to operate in the 1800 MHz frequency band.

1990

GSM adaptation work started for the DCS1800 band.

1991

First GSM call made by Radiolinja in Finland.

1992

First international roaming agreement signed between Telecom Finland and Vodafone UK.

First SMS sent.

1993

Telstra Australia becomes the first non-European operator to sign the GSM MoU 32 networks on air in 18 countries or territories.

First truly hand portable terminals are launched commercially. World’s first DCS1800 (later GSM1800) network opened in the UK.

1994

GSM Phase 2 data/fax bearer services launched.

GSM MoU membership surpasses 100 operators.

GSM connections hit one million.

1995

GSM MoU group is formally registered as the GSM MoU Association in Switzerland.

Global GSM subscribers exceed 10 million.

GSM World Congress held in Madrid, Spain.

Formation of GSMA Regional Interest Groups (RIGs).

Fax, data and SMS services started, video over GSM demonstrated.

The first North American PCS 1900 (now GSM 1900) network opened – via a phone call by US Vice President Al Gore.

1996

First GSM networks in Russia and China go live.

Prepaid GSM SIM cards launched.

GSM MoU membership approaches 200 operators from nearly 100 countries.

167 networks live in 94 countries.

GSM World Congress moves to Cannes, France.

GSM subscribers hit 50 million.

GSMA Awards launched.

1997

15 GSM networks on air in the USA using the 1900MHz band.

100 countries on air globally.

First tri-band handsets launched.

1998

Global GSM connections surpass 100 million.

1999

WAP trials begin in France and Italy.

Contracts placed for GPRS systems.

2000

GLOBAL MOBILE CONNECTIONS: 0.7 billion.

UNIQUE SUBSCRIBERS: 0.6 billion.

First commercial GPRS services launched.

3G license auctions commence.

First GPRS handsets enter the market.

Five billion SMS messages sent in one month.

2001

GLOBAL MOBILE CONNECTIONS: 1 billion.

UNIQUE SUBSCRIBERS: 0.8 billion.

First 3G WCDMA (3GSM) network goes live.

3GSM World Congress held in Cannes, France.

50 billion SMS messages sent in first three months.

GSM connections exceed 500 million.

First mobile phone colour screens launched.

2002

GLOBAL MOBILE CONNECTIONS: 1.2 billion.

UNIQUE SUBSCRIBERS: 0.9 billion.

GSM introduced for 800MHz band.

First Multimedia Messaging Services go live.

95% of nations worldwide have GSM networks.

400 billion SMS messages sent in the year.

First mobile camera phones launched.

2003

GLOBAL MOBILE CONNECTIONS: 1.4 billion.

UNIQUE SUBSCRIBERS: 1.1 billion.

First EDGE networks go live.

GSMA creates new CEO-level Board.

GSMA membership breaks through 200-country barrier.

Over half a billion handsets produced in a year.

2004

GLOBAL MOBILE CONNECTIONS: 1.7 billion.

UNIQUE SUBSCRIBERS: 1.3 billion.

GSM connections surpass 1 billion.

More than 50 WCDMA networks live.

GSMA and Ovum announce market data venture: Wireless Intelligence.

2005

GLOBAL MOBILE CONNECTIONS: 2.2 billion.

UNIQUE SUBSCRIBERS: 1.6 billion.

More than 1.5 billion GSM connections.

GSM accounts for three-quarters of global mobile market.

First HSDPA network goes live.

Over 100 WCDMA networks launched.

120+ WCDMA handset models launched or announced.

First sub-$30 mobile phone announced.

Over one trillion SMS sent in the year.

2006

GLOBAL MOBILE CONNECTIONS: 2.7 billion.

UNIQUE SUBSCRIBERS: 1.8 billion.

GSM surpasses 2 billion connections.

Over 120 commercial WCDMA networks live in more than 50 countries; almost 100 million connections.

Approximately 85 HSDPA networks in commercial launch by year end.

66 HSDPA devices available from 19 suppliers, including 32 handset models.

GSMA membership exceeds 900 companies (including over 700 operators).

Over 980 million handsets sold.

2007

GLOBAL MOBILE CONNECTIONS: 3.4 billion.

UNIQUE SUBSCRIBERS: 2 billion.

Further HSDPA network launches and introduction of HSUPA.

First GSMA Mobile Asia Congress held in Macau SAR, China.

GSMA celebrates 20th anniversary.

2008

GLOBAL MOBILE CONNECTIONS: 4 billion.

UNIQUE SUBSCRIBERS: 2.3 billion.

HSPA surpasses 50 million connections.

191 HSPA networks live and 740 HSPA devices available.

More than 55,000 visitors to the GSMA’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

4G-LTE standards completed.

GSMA passes a resolution enabling LTE operators to join the Association.

2009

GLOBAL MOBILE CONNECTIONS: 4.7 billion.

UNIQUE SUBSCRIBERS: 2.6 billion.

First commercial HSPA+ network launched.

Mobile Asia Congress held in Hong Kong.

First commercial LTE networks launched.

More than 165 million HSPA connections worldwide.

285 HSPA commercial networks supported by more than 1,600 HSPA devices.

2010

GLOBAL MOBILE CONNECTIONS: 5.4 billion.

UNIQUE SUBSCRIBERS: 2.8 billion.

More than 300 million HSPA connections worldwide.

162 HSPA networks and 52 HSPA+ networks live.

17 LTE commercial LTE networks.

1.6 billion worldwide mobile device sales to end users.

2011

GLOBAL MOBILE CONNECTIONS: 6 billion.

UNIQUE SUBSCRIBERS: 3 billion.

More than 60,000 visitors to the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

Anne Bouverot appointed as Director General of the GSMA.

GSMA selects Barcelona as the Mobile World Capital.

More than 500 million HSPA connections worldwide.

2012

GLOBAL MOBILE CONNECTIONS: 6.5 billion.

UNIQUE SUBSCRIBERS: 3.2 billion.

GSMA celebrates 25th anniversary.

Mobile Wold Congress attracts 67,000 visitors in its final year at Fira de Barcelona Montjuic.

The first Mobile Asia Expo is held in Shanghai, China, attracts15,500 visitors.

20th anniversary of the first SMS message being sent (December 1992).

2013

GLOBAL MOBILE CONNECTIONS: 6.8 billion.

UNIQUE SUBSCRIBERS: 3.5 billion.

Mobile broadband connections surpass 2 billion.

Launch of Mobile World Centre in Barcelona.

Mobile World Congress relocates to Fira Gran Via in Barcelona; attracts a record 72,000 visitors.

20,500 visitors to Mobile Asia Expo 2013.

Launch of GSMA Intelligence.

GSMA launches ‘Mobile 360’ event series.

Telenor President and CEO Jon Fredrik Baksaas elected as GSMA chairman.

More than 250 LTE networks live in almost 100 countries.

219 Mobile Money services launched across 84 countries.

2014

GLOBAL MOBILE CONNECTIONS: 7.3 billion.

UNIQUE SUBSCRIBERS: 3.6 billion.

LTE connections surpass 500 million.

M2M connections surpass 250 million.

85,000 visitors to Mobile World Congress 2014.

26,000 visitors to Mobile Asia Expo in Shanghai.

2015

GLOBAL MOBILE CONNECTIONS: 7.5 billion

UNIQUE SUBSCRIBERS: 4.5 billion

4G connections reach one billion

More than 93,000 visitors to Mobile World Congress 2015

Barcelona confirmed as Mobile World Capital through 2023

Launch of Humanitarian Connectivity Charter

40,000+ visitors attend first Mobile World Congress Shanghai

First commercial launches of GSMA Embedded SIM specification

GSMA successfully lobbies for release of additional mobile spectrum at WRC-15

2016

Mats Granryd joins the GSMA as Director General

GLOBAL MOBILE CONNECTIONS: 7.9 billion

UNIQUE SUBSCRIBERS: 4.8 billion

More than 100,000 visitors attend Mobile World Congress 2016

GSMA’s Mobile IoT Initiative drives adoption of standardised LPWA solutions

More than 53,000 visitors to Mobile World Congress Shanghai

GSMA and CTIA partner to launch new Mobile World Congress Americas event

Mobile industry commits to achieve UN Sustainable Development Goals

GSMA Mobile Connect available to 3 billion consumers globally

GSMA launches Universal Profile for Advanced Messaging

GSMA publishes first ‘Mobile Industry Impact Report’ on the SDGs

2017

Sunil Bharti Mittal begins two-year term as GSMA chair

Number of registered mobile money accounts reaches half a billion

More than 108,000 visitors attend Mobile World Congress 2017

GSMA certified carbon neutral for all GSMA events and worldwide offices for 2016

Unique mobile subscribers surpass 5 billion

More than 67,400 visitors to Mobile World Congress Shanghai

All GSMA events and offices certified carbon neutral for 2016

More than 21,000 attendees visited inaugural “Mobile World Congress Americas, in partnership with CTIA”