original vision of enabling computers to communicate

The Internet was highly successful in meeting the original vision of enabling computers to communicate across diverse networks and in the face of heterogeneous underlying communications technologies. Its success—measured in terms of commercial investment


The Internet was highly successful in meeting the original vision of enabling computers to communicate across diverse networks and in the face of heterogeneous underlying communications technologies. Its success—measured in terms of commercial investment, wide use, and large installed base—is also widely understood to have made innovation in the Internet much harder over time. (Innovation in the Internet’s architecture proper should be distinguished from innovative uses of the network, which have flourished as a direct consequence of the Internet’s flexible, general-purpose design.) CSTB’s Looking Over the Fence at Networks: A Neighbor’s View of Networking Research
In the early 1970s, following years of resistance to the idea, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) began setting aside a range of radio frequencies for radio telephony. Near the end of that decade, a trial of cellular phone technology had been conducted in Chicago, and the world’s first commercial cellular phone service was introduced in Tokyo, Japan.

By the early 1980s, the FCC was issuing wireless telephony licenses and setting up metropolitan and rural jurisdictions (so-called metropolitan statistical areas and rural service areas), and, by the middle of the decade, first-generation wireless systems were being deployed in the United States. These systems were based on analog cellular technology using the advanced mobile phone system (or AMPS) technology that had been developed by Bell Labs. Cellular technology was being deployed in other countries, as well, although the technology and standards adopted internationally were very different from those used in the United States. Thus began one of today’s most vibrant and competitive industries—competition among wireless providers in today’s market is fierce, and new products and services emerge almost on a daily basis now.

Growing consumer demand and the need to make better use of available spectrum resources fueled the development of a second generation of wireless technologies (also commonly referred to as 2G technologies). This second generation marked the transition to a fully digital technology, providing enhanced quality and enabling better use of spectrum resources. While the European wireless industry settled on global system for mobile communications (GSM) for its 2G standard, two major wireless standards emerged in the United States: time division multiple access (TDMA), a technology standard adopted by the Telecommunications Industry Association in 1989; and code division multiple access (CDMA), a newer, competing technology developed and championed by Qualcomm. 2G technology included many improvements over first-generation technology; for example, 2G included such advanced digital features as compression, network control techniques, bandwidth conservation measures, and full support for voice mail.

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