NEVER OUT OF TOUCH. This could be an advertising agency response (like in Mad Men) to a mobile phone operator which would be catchy, look good on a billboard, or newspaper, untrue in most cases, but a vaulting ambition which is today a possibility. The Chilean miners would be an extreme example of a challenging customer profile.

My topic aims to rope in all the of the scientific and technological aspects of what is arguably one of the most significant human developments since the invention of the wheel; every bit as important, and likely to be the bedrock of human social, work, education, for the foreseeable future. I am referring to of course the mobile phone and its imitators. Although my aim is to deal principally with the S+T here, I recognise that there is an enormous socio-economic slice of this cake which as John did last month I shall introduce for discussion as a break in proceeding. Also I hope to build here on last month’s talk about learning, skills, and the new ways that people will adapt because of the importance of this morning’s topic. Please don’t hesitate to give your sixpennyworth.

I have planned to get through this in bit sized chunks, say 5, and to truncate those aspects which previous sessions here have dealt with. Ergo you have done telephone exchanges, GPS, transatlantic cables, the uses of satellites (I will deal with a subset, the communications ones.)

The first two chunks, let’s call it the history of how we got here, (and the opportunities that emerged along the way.) Those who made it possible by their discoveries and inventions; in practice because inevitably time is pressing they will be scarcely more than lists. You will all have a favourite or three to add to the list.

In 1970, many homes had a telephone, a mobile phone was a phone box, a few workers had VHF transceivers, principally the chief international communicators were governments, armed forces, business and amateur radio enthusiasts. Few people had ever made an international call. Those communications were carried by copper cables under the sea over the transatlantic and empire routes. Britiain was a key hub, as was NY, Singapore, HK, San Francisco, Rio, Halifax, Vancouver, Sicily. However Intelsat was able to launch eventually three satellites in the geosynchronous arc 120degrees apart and provide “global coverage.” It affected us not much in this room, except broadcasters started to relay TV to us via satellite.

The exception to the case was on TV, Star Trek had already deployed its super I phone with human material transporter capability.

Developments in computing, electronic component production, new materials, sees international communications committees under the ITU umbrella, ETSI, CEPT meeting from 1980 to formulate a plan for international mobile phone networks provisionally called GSM. The USA was not involved.

By 1991 Radiolijna, was sending the first GSM call from Espoo to Helsinki on a Nokia handset, and the age of mobile comms for everyone (well nearly) had arrived. In the UK 02 and Vodafone started service in London. So too did Sweden, FR, GE, IT,

A footnote here is that for a few years there had been an unsuccessful venture called analogue mobile services along chiefly motorways and railways stations. They were unreliable, corrupted, insecure, open to anyone with a simple receiver to listen to, and expensive. GSM despatched the service to the bin of history, but in Africa, Asia, SA, and the USA it continued. That was 1G, GSM was 2G. For a while.

The committees did not rest on their laurels; they began planning for 3G, which arrived by 2000 in the UK, somewhat earlier elsewhere. The chief beneficiary in the UK was the government, when the chancellor took the chief operators for £22B for the licenses to operate. It was for observers of human nature an object lesson in greed pure and simple because for all practical purposes the companies who paid those licenses could not whilst building out the network, make a profit. Oh no. Well in the make believe world of the UK in 20002 Vodafone alone constituted about 30% of the entire capitalisation of the FTSE100.

Did boards of hard headed business men really convince themselves that a few businessmen and kids texting one another would make them a fortune? We’ll see.

Not unnaturally in the history of human endeavour all human life is here. The finest facets of human beings, community, social provision, safety, relief of poverty, all the way to crime, theft, murder, and the use of mobile phones (as recently as 29 October ) as detonators for terrorist explosions. Technically these have not always been successful.

2. Who were the pioneers of this wonderful human endeavour, because if one removes the business inconsistencies, the science and technology which underpins it is something to behold and is well worth listing.

So what is involved and then who dun it? Many are household names from you science classes, others less well known, but arguably every bit as important.

Radio frequency engineering infrastructure, electrical power provision, antennas, handsets, batteries, computing, data communications in bulk, electronics omponents, satellite relay, copper and fibre opics cabling, SIM cards, crypto, manufacture, R+D, microwave engineering, Lasers, GPS, GPS chips at $1Signalling networks, Marketing, sales, regulation, standards, documents, licensing, public safety, telephone switches, radio propogation design, radio frequency allocation, interference protection, mathematics, design. International roaming, billing networks, emergency services, data protection.

So who was responsible?

Maxwell, Faraday, Hertz, Reeves, Thompson (Kelvin), Marconi, Turing, Shannon, Kao, Tesla, Shockley/Bardeen/Bratley, Kilby/Noyce, etc.

Maurer, Keck and Schultz, (Martin) Cooper, Englebart,

Babbage, Franklin.


The mobile phone – how it works.

Demo of several phones broken up, measure voltages in batteries, look at constituent parts, frame, keyboard, sim, a-d, rf, antenna,

Put a phone back together, and switch on adjacent to loudspeaker to hear distinctive beat sequence at 217Hz.

Go through the sequence of logging on, authentication, security, HLR, AUC, VLR, signalling. Infrastructure needs.

What do we need. A number, a switch, a billing method, a service delivery; how is it done. Regulation, licensing, safety, marketing, repair, new products.

Some home scenarios. Static, in a shopping centre, on a train at high speed. Constraints.

Terminology - GSM modes and capability. 3G modes and capability. Differences. Modes of use.

CDMA - a technique for transmitting 3G signals, which is also much used for testing, crypto, frequency hopping, stealth.

GPS. How that works.


Why did the UK not grasp the high ground in the mobile phone business?

Compare the performance of Nokia with say ARM.

Company Profile

ARM Holdings is the world's leading semiconductor intellectual property (IP) supplier and as such is at the heart of the development of digital electronic products. Headquartered inCambridge, UK, and employing over 1700 people, ARM has offices around the world, including design centers in France, India, Sweden, and the US.  

Company Highlights

The ARM business model involves the designing and licensing of IP rather than the manufacturing and selling of actual semiconductor chips. We licence IP to a network of Partners, which includes the world's leading semiconductor and systems companies. These Partners utilize ARM IP designs to create and manufacture system-on-chip designs, paying ARM a license fee for the original IP and a royalty on every chip or wafer produced. In addition to processor IP, we provide a range of tools, physical and systems IP to enable optimized system-on-chip designs.

With the diversity of ARM IP  and the broad  ecosystem of supporting silicon and software for ARM-based solutions, the world's leading Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) use ARM technology in a wide variety of applications ranging from mobile handsets and digital set top boxes to car braking systems and network routers. Today ARM technology is used in more than 95% of the world’s mobile handsets and over one-quarter of all electronic devices.

Company Overview

ARM Holdings plc is the world’s leading semiconductor intellectual property (IP) supplier. The technology we design is at the heart of many of the digital electronic products sold.

ARM has an innovative business model. Instead of bearing the costs associated with manufacturing, we license our technology to a network of partners, mainly leading semiconductor manufacturers and OEMs. These partners utilise our designs to create smart, low energy chips suitable for modern electronic devices.

Why semiconductor companies use ARM technology

The design work that ARM does requires a large amount of R&D investment and expertise. Every semiconductor company would need to spend between $50 million and $150 million every year to reproduce what ARM does. This represents an additional $20 billion of annual cost for the industry. By designing once and licensing many times, ARM spreads the R&D costs over the whole industry and thereby helps make digital electronics cheaper.

How ARM makes money

The partner companies who adopt ARM technology pay an up-front licence fee to gain access to a design and also a royalty on every chip that uses the licensed design. A single licence is the starting point for many different ARM Powered® chip designs and in 2009, ARM partners shipped nearly four billion ARM Powered chips. Our designs are used in more than 95% of the world’s mobile phones and are increasingly designed into a wide range of other digital electronic products.

How the ARM business model works

ARM licenses technology designs to semiconductor companies. The licence fee is typically several million dollars, dependent upon which technology has been licensed and the type of licence. The semiconductor company will design and manufacture a chip utilising the ARM technology. The chip will then be incorporated into a digital electronic product, which is sold to the consumer.

ARM receives a royalty, typically based on a percentage of the chip price, for every chip sold by the semiconductor company containing ARM technology. It takes an average of 3-4 years from the time the semiconductor company signs the licence until they start to pay royalties. Many customers are able to re-use the same ARM technology in many different chips going into a broad range of end markets. Each new chip starts a new stream of royalties.


Global reach.

How the phone call transits the world.

Copper, fibre optic relay.

Satellite relay. Globalstar, Iridium, Thuraya, Inmarsat.

Session 4

Next steps in the technology.

4G. What is that?

Wifi and Wimax.


Location based services, and all of that.


Session 5


The inescapable process of mobile communications, computing, social media, business media, entertainment, lifestyle events, education, reference, leads inexorably towards a solution which industry insiders refer to as convergence.

That is, as the devices become smaller, with more and more capability, then consumers will use their device for everything that they can. The trick for business is to be there with the consumer to sell services, or

Take a typical handset being carried around Cheltenham.

It is almost certainly a touch screen phone, has 3G and 2G capability, has an MP3 player or similar, may have GPS, can do text, MMS, internet, GPRS.

In 5 years, it will be a mobile computer, Internet terminal, gaming tool, book reader, phone, video phone, digital imaging device, data terminal, music entertainment centre, social media contact centre, education centre, identity and security centre, GPS map centre, electronic wallet, SHD video player, TV receiver and transmitter, Wifi communicator, banking terminal,