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Mobile-Telephony-National-Portraits

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                        CHAPTER 3
    MOBILE TELEPHONY IN EUROPE: HISTORIES, MARKETS AND
                      MODES OF USE

COST 248 Mobile Workgroup

Mobile telephony, in its brief life, has already had a stormy and diverse history. Buffeted
by the winds of competition and deregulation, transformed from a cumbersome
technology of use to few except the most hardened of commercial travellers, it has now
become increasingly taken for granted in the public and private lives of European
citizens. In this portmanteau discussion a number of the histories of mobile telephone
are, albeit briefly, presented. They are intended to give a sense of the variety of
trajectories towards an increasingly mature market in some of countries in which the
mobile telephone has taken hold, and they are also intended to give a sense, through a
sequence of interspersed vignettes, of what it everyday life is like, now that we can
increasingly telephone on the move.

The countries represented here are Denmark, Norway, the UK, the Netherlands and Italy.
This is not intended as a comprehensive survey, therefore, but the beginnings of an
attempt to draw the emerging map of mobile telephony across Europe, a map that consists
not just of handsets, transmission towers, or electronic infrastructures, but a map which
also consists of individuals and groups learning to act and behave, above all, in public
spaces as they come to terms with their and other‟s use of a new communication device.


1. Denmark
(Leslie Haddon and Vivi Hejdemann Gregerson)

1.1 Origins

Danish mobile communications have long historical roots and because of this a
manufacturing industry which was able to meet early demand when the state run PTT
introduced public systems. Denmark was relatively early in introducing automatic
systems as part of a pan-Scandinavian approach which helped create a large market for
cheaper mobile telephony. This high demand was further stimulated by the introduction
of competition which means that along with other Scandinavian countries Denmark has
one of the higher adoption rates in Europe.

The origins of private mobile radio systems date back to the first world war when they
were first used by Danish fishing fleets and later by the transport industry (taxis and
haulage) (Christoffersen, 19921). Danish manufacturing companies met this demand and
also supplied systems to other countries. In the 1960s the state run PTT decided to
1
 This history is based on the Christoffersen article and the author‟s own interviews with Danish regulator‟s
and staff from Denmark‟s mobile phone companies conducted in 1995.

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extend its provision by creating a system of public mobile telephony. The first attempt in
1962 was later felt to have been overpriced and failed to attract much interest. But then
in 1963 a relatively cheaper „System A‟ was the first of a series of systems which
attracted far more demand than had been anticipated from users such as farmers and
trades-people. As the system ran out of capacity it was followed by systems B, C and D.
The market was further opened by a change in policy whereby the Danish PTT allowed
its customers to buy terminals rather than rent them. At this time usage was mainly work
related, the terminals were mostly for cars although there were some portable, albeit
heavy, versions and the systems were manual in the sense that calls made to terminals had
to go through an operator.

            She is always there - mum. Even though the kids are old enough to be on their own
            during the day it is nice to know, that they can call her anytime. Mum is a busy lady,
            working full time, doing sports, going shopping and much much more. Wherever she
            goes she brings the “baby-sitter”, which actually is a mobile phone. She bought it
            some months ago, and right away it was accepted in the family - almost like a new
            family member. Mum is always there when they need her - and best of all - nobody
            else but the family knows the number of her mobile phone, so here they have her all
            by themselves. In the evenings the mobile phone often turns around to be a “mum-
            sitter” - the kids brings it to sports activities, visits and so on and when they are ready
            to go home they call mum at home: “Hi mum, I am ready now, please pick me up at
            the corner in 10 minutes. Love you! Bye.”

While contemplating the move towards an automatic mobile telephony system
negotiations were conducted with Sweden, Norway and Finland about the idea of setting
up a pan-Scandinavian standard. This was not so much to allow „roaming‟ in the
different countries2 but to develop a large enough market to allow manufacturers to
produce cheaper terminals. The traditional co-operation between the state run
Scandinavian PTTs facilitated a regional approach which might had had less chance of
success if at this stage the PTTs had been private companies. NORDTEL, the Nordic
telecom administrations co-ordinating committee, conducted meetings from late 1960s
and over the next decade organised the steady technical development of this system. This
culminated with the launch of the NMT 450 system in Sweden in 1981 and in Denmark
and in the other Scandinavian countries in 1982. The manufacturers and dealers, rather
than PTT, organised much of marketing and once again demand was greater than
anticipated. As a result the Scandinavian PTTs had to bring forward plans for successor
system working at a higher frequency, the NMT 900. It was with this standard the hand-
held mobile phones first appeared which soon formed the vast majority of new sales. By
1989 the competition between manufacturers had forced down the prices of NMT
handsets considerably.

1.2 The development of a mass market


2
 Only a small percent used mobile phones in the other countries and this remains so today with the pan-
European GSM standard today.

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The next step was the introduction of competition where, as in many other European
countries, the mobile phone sector was among the the first parts of the PTTs to be
privatised. A duopoly lead to the setting up of TeleDanmark Mobile as a private
company spun off from old PTT. Meanwhile a competitor started operating from 1992
which is now known as Sonofon. By this time the European digital standard, GSM, had
been developed which allowed people to use their mobile phones when in other European
countries. While TeleDanmark Mobile operated both their analogue NMT and the GSM
systems, Sonofon only dealt with GSM.

        Kasper is 17 and in high school. Kasper got the mobile phone from his parents last
        Christmas and uses it almost every day. He brings it anywhere, to school, to sports
        activities and when he goes out dancing. A lot of his friends also have mobile phones
        and they call each other to give messages and to discuss homework (... and girls!). Most
        of them bought their phone on the sale in June where they could get a mobile phone for
        just DKK 1.00. They all have to pay their own telephone bill, so they mainly call each
        other in the cheap hours.
        About 10% of all users in Denmark are young people below the age of 19.

Up until 1991 and 1992 mobile telephones had been marketed as a business tool although
the operators knew that they were also used for private purposes. The marketing changed
in late 1993 when there was a major price war between the two operators. Whereas the
old state PTT had not sought customers but had encountered more demand as
manufacturing prices fell the new private operators wanted to acquire subscribers more
quickly. TeleDanmark Mobile especially felt under pressure from its new competitor
over market share. Hence both companies adopted what was recognised as „the British
model‟ of subsidising handset prices to increase this market. This involved huge
discounts for a short period accompanied by an advertising campaign which by December
1993 was portraying the mobile phone as a Christmas gift. Media coverage of the „price
wars‟ gave the technology further visibility. In the end the regulator intervened to limit
the amount of discounting but in a very short period the beginnings of a mass market had
emerged. For example, at the start of the campaign TeleDanmark Mobile hoped for
15,000 new customers, 3 or 4 times normal demand for that period. In practice they got
65,000 new customers in that one short campaign. In Sonofon‟s original planning they
had expected to have 25,000 by 1995. In fact, the rapid development of the market meant
that they achieved 100,000 by that date. The fact that both companies suddenly had far
more private users also forced them to increase their geographical coverage more quickly
than originally intended as these users expected the phones to work in the more isolated
areas where summer houses and holiday facilities were located.


Now GSM coverage is almost 100% in Denmark. In the beginning the private users were
mostly men, but this has changed over time. Women, the elderly and even children now
also consider mobile telephones to be an everyday tool.




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        Helle is on her way home from work. It is late rush hour and she has a 45 minutes drive
        out of Copenhagen City. Usually she calls somebody up and spends most of the time in
        the car talking to her mum, her husband or one of her girlfriends. Today she is talking
        to her colleague Susanne. Actually she called her up to discuss a problem with one of
        the new products, but they ended up chatting and finally planning to go shopping the
        next day. Helle is a sales manager in the company. She appreciates that if needed she is
        able to plan her own work and take off a couple of hours in the middle of the day. In
        case anybody needs to get in touch with her, she will just have her telephone calls at
        work forwarded to the mobile phone, which she is bringing anywhere.




Date        TDK, NMT-450 TDK, NMT-900 TDK, GSM                        Sonofon, GSM

1 -4 - 95   34,880              242,980              150,972          108,000*
1 -7 - 95   33,059              257,870              165,072          116,000*
1 -10- 95   31,043              265,523              183,843          124,408*
1 -1 - 96   28,814              275,015              241,565          245,000*
1- 4 - 96   27,337*             275,616*             324,400*         300,000*
1- 5 - 96   26,400*             276,212*             460,500*         376,049*
1- 10- 96   25,600*             276,962*             501,000*         482,500*


Table 1. Growth of Mobile Telephone Ownership: Denmark, 199-1996
Source: Mobile Communications
All figures marked with * are estimated figures.


1.3 Media coverage, issues around mobile phones

Both operators in Denmark have had to contend with the fact that the media constructed
their own images using the mobile phone as a symbol. For example, media
representations have often associated the mobile phone with being busy when really the
phone companies would have preferred to emphasise how the mobile used in the right
way could save time. In one case on which the media reported and made cartoons about,
a vicar received a call on his mobile while at a funeral. Such images, and the implicit
critique of the mobile as intrusive, were seen by the companies as being extremely
detrimental and was one area where both firms were willing to cooperage for the sake of
the whole industry.


        No mobile phones, Please. Peter didn‟t pay attention to the sign outside the restaurant
        before he and his wife went in. When the waiter came to take the order he offered Peter
        to have the receptionist answer the phone during the dinner. Peter was expecting a call
        from the marketing manager, so he accepted the offer right away, other days he would
        just have turned it off. Right after the dinner was served the waiter came to the table

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          and asked Peter to answer a mobile phone call in the hall outside the restaurant. “Thank
          you” Peter said, “I will be right back, dear!”



The companies also co-operated in relation to fears about using the phone while driving.
There was one particular incident in mid-November 1995 when a women crashed and
was killed. The police attributed the accident to her searching for her phone while
driving. This raised some discussion in Denmark, and the Council associated with traffic
safety had approached the phone companies to sponsor brooches and TV ads with the
message that drivers should only use the hands-free facility or an answerphone service
while driving. Of course, the answerphone service solution would actually generate more
revenue, but more importantly both operators felt that they had to be good corporate
citizens - they had social obligations.

Other examples of the ways in which the companies have attempted to address perceived
issues around mobile telephony were TeleDanmark Mobile‟s production of beer mats
suggesting people do not use mobiles in certain public spaces (e.g. some restaurants) and
their booklet on mobile phone etiquette. And both companies sold their answerphone
service on the basis that it helped avoid intrusive phones calls.

In Denmark, at the end of 1996 the main market for the mobile phone is still the business
area, but has become a “must” for a large amount of people also in their private life.
Danish women do have mobile phones, but they prefer to use the telephone at home for
calls in general. The children are an increasing group of mobile phone users. Elderly
people do not yet show significant in the mobile phone statistics, a few of them do have
mobile phones but mainly to make themselves and the closest family feel secure.


2. Norway
(Rich Ling and Anne-Jorunn Berg)

2.1 Origins and history of the market3

Electronic mobile communications in Norway has an almost 90 year history. Its early
development is due in a large degree to the seafaring nature of the country. In this short
summary these developments will be described starting at the turn of the last century and
ending with today‟s developments in mobile satellite communications.

Internationally, maritime communication, based on Morse telegraphy, came into
existence around 1900. The public maritime mobile service started in 1980 when
Sørvången radio in Northern Norway was opened for MF (Medium Frequency)
communication with ships. In the years following its introduction this form of
3
 This article draws extensively on the work of Lavrans Grimstveit and Hans Myre in their article “The
history of mobile communications in Norway.” in Telektronikk 4.95, Hjalmar Lehne, ed. Telenor FoU,
Kjeller.

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communication was introduced along the entire coast of Norway, a distance of 2650
kilometres, and in the areas around Spitsbergen and Jan Mayen. The upgrading of the
system to include radiotelephony was began in 1931.

Between the 1930‟s up until the 1950‟s this system was developed for the more efficient
communication with ships. The development was, of course, interrupted by the Second
World War. By 1955 Norway had 27 coastal radio stations, 12 of which had
radiotelephony and 15 of which had radio telegraphy and radiotelephony. After this point
VHF (Very High Frequency) radiotelephony was introduced for shorter range
communication. This system is still the primary form of communication for ships in the
near coastal areas. After its introduction a system allowing the manual patching of the
VHF system with the regular telephone system was developed.

For longer distance communication with ships a HF (High Frequency) radio station was
build near Bergen in 1927. After the war, because of damage to the radio station, a larger
station was built near Stavanger. This station was opened in 1960 and soon became one
of the most efficient and busiest stations in the world. A telex system was added in 1965.

        It is 07.15 on a freezing Monday morning in January in a town close to the polar circle. It
        is completely dark, both inside and outside the bus on its way to the airport. Drowsy
        people try to catch up on lost sleep. A business-man is sitting in the seat right behind me.
        At 07.36 he pulls out his mobile phone. He is lucky. His friend, business-partner, brother
        in arms or whatever is still in bed at the hotel where they have spent the week-end.
        Detailed discussions about the night before, or what he can remember (he,he, hem,hem),
        detailed descriptions of the woman he met and learned to know quite intimately (he,he,he,
        hem,hem,hem), it was good - the sex he means, no, he does not remember her name,
        doesn't care either. Yes, he is on his way to the airport. Yes, it is going to be a long and
        tiring day. Bye,bye. At 07.41. I am again drawn out of my sleepy state. His phone rings.
        Evidently a business connection. He switches on to speaking German discussing delivery
        date of an IT product. After a few minutes they reach a brusque agreement and ring off.
        The silence does not last. At 7.48 he calls his wife. Yes, it has been a strenuous
        convention. Yes, he had got her message and yes he had noticed her call registered on his
        beeper. However, it was so late, darling, that he had decided not to call her back. Didn't
        want to wake her in case she was asleep. She will tell the children good morning from
        him. He does not have time to talk to them because now he is approaching the airport.
        Sure, honey, he will call her later. He rings off. At 07.58 the bus ride is over and so is my
        involuntary participation in this stranger's intimate life.

Land based mobile communications developed after the Second World War. During this
period several actors saw the need for and the advantages of communication to remote
land based locations. In 1966 Norwegian Telecom opened a manual VHF radiotelephone
service for use. It was clustered around the larger cities such as Oslo and Bergen. This
manual system gradually extended itself to cover larger portions of the country.
By the middle of the 1970‟s the capacity for this system began to be exhausted. A similar
situation was found in Denmark and Sweden. In 1976 a manual UHF (Ultra High
Frequency) system in the 460 MHz band was opened on a Scandinavian basis. Thus,


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users could move from Norway to Sweden and Denmark while using the same system
and the same equipment. The manual system was closed in 1986 as it had been decided
to use the frequency for the new NMT (Nordic Mobile Telephone) system. Following
this, the manual VHF system was closed in 1990. The manual system had a peak usage
of 31.000 users in 1981, the year that NMT was launched.

The NMT system was established at a meeting of the Nordic telecom directors in 1960 at
Kablevåg in Northern Norway. At that meeting it was decided to investigate the
possibility for a public, automatically switched mobile system to cover all the Nordic
countries. The first, “home built” exchange was installed in Stockholm in order to test
the system. The actual commercial production specified that the user terminals should be
simple and that complex functions should be located in the exchanges. Another design
criteria was that the system should be open such that a variety of manufactures would be
interested in producing equipment. The resulting competition was positive both in terms
of the cost, the design and the weight of the equipment.

The NMT-450 system was launched commercially in 1981-82. The system was the most
technically advanced in the world at the time. It offered refined “hand over” as well as
multi country usage. Within three years of its launch, the system in Oslo was overloaded
with clients. Because of this Norwegian Telecom had to temporarily suspend the
subscription of new clients.

In 1983 work was started on the NMT-900 system. When commercialised two years later
the system offered better speech quality, more portable hand terminals and higher
capacity. The drawback with the system is a smaller cell radius.

In 1983 there were 87.000 NMT-450 subscribers. With the introduction of NMT-900, the
ban on new subscribers in Oslo was lifted and by June of 1993 the number of NMT- 900
subscribers exceeded that of the older system.

Internationally, the NMT system has been adopted by more than 40 countries. The
success of the system is based on the facts that it uses well known technology, it is robust
and flexible, procurement of equipment is easy and the establishment of stations is not
complex and finally the system is not patented allowing its adoption by many operators
and manufacturers.




         Two years ago, one of my friends found the man in her life (again). Pleased with this and
         full of expectations, she informed us (her friends) that she was going off to the mountains
         for a ten day Easter-vacation to be spent in a small mountain cabin with her new love. On
         returning her enthusiasm for the new man had waned, and she explained this in terms of
         the mobile phone. It was not that the phone did not work, on the contrary it worked too


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            well in certain areas. Describing a lovely day with perfect snow conditions, mountain
            plateaus drenched in sunshine and just the two of them in the whole world, she told us
            how they had finally reached the peak of a mountain. Total calmness and a view that
            words cannot describe, he drew two oranges and the mobile phone out of his metal frame
            rucksack. And instead of sharing the beauty of the scenery and enjoying her pleasant
            company, he phoned his friends to tell of his whereabouts and discuss the weather! She
            never got over the disappointment and is now only interested in mobile phone-free
            acquaintances.


In 1982 a working group for CEPT was established to consider the development of a pan-
European mobile communications system which was to become the GSM system (Global
System for Mobile communication). The system was to include the roaming functions of
the NMT system along with the ability to connect to ISDN, provide high quality
communication, accommodate both vehicle and hand based terminals, offer higher traffic
capacity, co-exist with established systems, allow national charging systems and maintain
the current cost structure to the customer.

It was decided in 1985 that the system should be digital. The motivation for this was to
allow greater system capacity. In addition, it was established that the system should be
open for several operators in each of the countries. The experience in the NMT systems
meant that the Nordic countries were an active participant in the development of this new
system. The system was opened for commercial use in 1991.

Based on the principle of a duopoly, two operators were given 12 year licenses for GSM
systems in Norway in December 1991. In 1993 a commercial service was established in
Norway by Norwegian Telecom Mobile (now renamed Telenor Mobile) and the private
operator NetCom GSM AS. By the end of 1994 the two operators had more than 130.000
subscribers and by the end of 1995 there were almost a million mobile telephone
subscribers in Norway, i.e. almost one subscriber for every four residents.4 Currently
over 40% of all Norwegian homes report owing a mobile telephone.

From 1984 Norway has had a commercial paging service. The first system allowed only
transmission of the phone numbers to be called. By the mid to late „80 this system had
one of the highest penetrations of any European country. In 1991 an alphanumeric
system was established allowing the transmission of messages. The paging system in
Norway is liberalised but there is still only a single actor in the market.

Based on its long tradition as an actor in the Maritime communication arena, Norway has
been involved in the development of satellite based communication systems. The
organisation INMARSAT (INternational MARitime SATellite organisation) was formed
in 1979 to establish and operate a world-wide maritime satellite system. The first
maritime satellite earth station in Europe was established at Eik on the south western
coast of the country. Based on co-operation with British Telecom and Telecom

4
    This figure is for all three systems, i.e. NMT-450, NMT-900 and GSM.

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Singapore, automatic telephone services an telex could be offered to the world‟s shipping
industry at standardised prices.

Terminal equipment is being reduced in size and becoming more and more light weight.
Currently, brief-case size terminals are coming onto the market at moderate prices. This
means that telecommunications are truly becoming global.

Advances are also being made in the area of DECT, a system which utilises the 1800MHz
band. Systems are being commercialised now which offer mobile based communications
within limited geographical areas.


2.2 Social Dimensions

The diffusion rate of mobile telephones in Norway is one of the highest in the world. In ten
years the plain old telephone has moved from being an appliance plugged in a fixed point of
contact, through an application fixed in cars (and possibly drag about if you were strong
enough), to a pocket sized little thing with an antenna. Ownership of mobile phones is
common, however, usage is more varied. Two important features of usage can be detected
here, money and location.

The price structure is varied and connected to the various forms of time-cost structures. A
range of different subscription arrangements exists. After a period of costing next to nothing
to buy one (sold for the price of 1.krone according to advertisements) the time to pay for
usage has come. According to a recent quite a few mobile phone owners are now
discovering that mobile telephony was not so cheap after all.

How you make use of your mobile phone may be connected to where you use it as well as
to price. In areas of scattered population the net is not well developed. High mountains are
an obstacle to signal transfer, and the net of transformers is not equally distributed
throughout the country. This has created problems not only for the people living in these
areas, but for the sporty nature-loving part of the city-dwelling population, too. You cannot
rely on the mobile phone for connection when you are visiting remote areas. The batteries
can not be loaded if there is no electricity available, and even if the batteries work you may
find yourself in an area where connection is impossible. During the Easter-vacation when
people go skiing in the mountains, the trust in mobile telephony has, for example, led to
several unnecessary search operations.

There are two interesting controversies around the technology. One is about electricity, the
carrying through of cables in the area versus individual solar cell panels. The second is
about the building of a signal transformer for mobile telephony. The two are similar in
terms of nature preservation; installation of both will require alteration of the local
landscape. However, the discussion around mobile telephony has thrown up a number of
questions about conceptions of nature. The bottom line is approximately like this: mountain
cabin life is about living in accordance with nature and mobile telephony is an artificial

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intruder that creates more problems that it solves. The informal discussions about the
mobile phone signal transformer have touched upon interesting oppositions.

One is of course about the various implications of mobile telephony depending on whether
you are a permanent resident in the area or just, as in my case, a cabin tourist. Nature and
what is considered natural is not independent of social and geographical position. In the
group of cabin tourists there are several considerations to discuss where various life styles
and interests are negotiated. One is security, better signals will make the phone more
reliable in the cabin area and the reach area will be extended and you can carry it with you
when skiing or walking in the mountains. Arguments opposed to this are that it is dangerous
to rely on mobile phones anyway, and an increase in signal effect will create expectations
about security that they cannot fulfill. People will be more careless when they think they can
phone for help and when people expect to be able to reach you by phone they will be
increasingly worried when you do not answer your phone. Another is about visibility; what
will the transformer look like and is it necessary to place it at the top? Will it be visible
from the ski track? If the transformer may be hidden, which is very unlikely, it will be more
natural. The arguments rage from natural meaning the way it is today, through various
possibilities of hiding it or blending it into the landscape, to pro and con in terms of
comfort, calmness, security or availability. At stake here is not just the quality of signal
transfer but a whole range of conceptions of nature and being a proper or natural mount
cabin user.

Mobile telephones and mobile telephony is not just a question of making technology
available and workable. A whole multitude of negotiations of social and technical
circumstances are involved. Mobile telephony may serve as an optics to study a number of
aspects of modern society reaching much further than any isolated signal ever will.



3. The United Kingdom
(Leslie Haddon)

By the start of 1996 the UK was one of the largest markets for mobile telephony in
Europe with the second and third largest European operators (the first being the Telecom
Italia Mobile operator). Britain‟s telecoms sector experienced liberalisation and
privatisation before the continental countries with the result that mobile telephony was
from the start developed by private companies. This means that it was not, as in many
other European countries, simply made available by a state-run PTT as an extension of
universal service. Mobile telephony was always marketed as an additional profit-making
service. In 1992 the British operators were again fairly early within Europe to move from
targeting professional uses towards developing a mass market for personal use.




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3.1 The history of the market

The first cellular systems for a general business market appeared in 1985. The recently
privatised, but regulated, telecoms sector saw two licences given to Cellnet (partly owned
by British Telecom) and Vodaphone. Additional competition was introduced by the
„service provider‟ system whereby the two operators were not allowed to sell air-time
directly to end users but instead had to sell through intermediary service providers who in
turn dealt with retailers. In recent years service providers have emerged who focus
specifically on the residential market, such as „People‟s Phone‟. These have helped to
make mobile telephony move visible through the presence of mobile phone stores in the
high street. In the early years of cellular telephony the two companies addressed a
business market, including mobile tradesman, as was clear from their advertising policy.
When they finally moved to developing a mass market they offered new tariff structures
for less frequent and off-peak users and heavily subsidised the cost of handsets in order
to get new subscribers. Hence a handset which should cost £200 is currently being sold
for as little as £10, the operators making their profit on rental and usage. Equivalent
marketing strategies were later adopted by some other European countries.

Further competition was later introduced with the issue of Personal Communications
Network (PCN) licenses in 1989. In 1993 Mercury (the main competitor to BT in fixed
telephony) launched its „One to One‟ service which originally covered just London but
has since been extended north along the main motorways. And in 1994 Hutchison
launched its „Orange‟ service, which from the start had national coverage. Early 1993
had already seen unprecedented surges in subscriber growth and the two new entrants
triggered a further price war and a further surge in the market (Wood, 1993). The two
new services are digital GSM ones. By 1993 and 1994 , respectively, both Vodaphone
and Cellnet had launched their own GSM systems to complement their old analogue
ones, although GSM tariffs are geared mostly to business use. In October1995,
Vodaphone had 2.1 million subscribers, Cellnet 2 million, Mercury 300,000 and
Hutchison over 200,000.

It is useful to put cellular telephony into context by contrasting it with alternative forms
of mobile telephony. In 1989 four licences had been issued for CT2 (or Telepoint)
operators, once again with the aim of establishing more competition in this sector. In
fact, CT2 was initially intended to provide the mass market product, while cellular was
for professional use. The point was that while cellular handsets were expensive (before
the era of subsidisation), CT2 was cheap because the handsets could be sold as indoor
cordless phones which had the extra facility of allowing users to have some mobile
telephony when out of the home. Basically users could only make outgoing calls when
sufficiently near to transmitters located in public sites such as railway stations, the
underground, petrol stations, etc. just as a cordless phone in the home can operate only at
certain distance from a base unit. The handset therefore required less electronics than
cellular and represented a fundamentally different route to mass mobile telephony, as an
extension of the increasingly familiar cordless phone. In practice, most of the operators
who first took up CT2 licenses decided not to launch a product in the end. For a short

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time one operator, Hutchison, ran a service called „Rabbit‟ but this did not attract much
custom and was soon discontinued. At the time, its failure led some critics to claim that
there would be no mass market for mobile telephony.

The other form of mobile communications is pagers. Despite the fact that paging systems
were initially developed in the UK for hospital use in 1953, they have to date been
promoted mainly as a business/professional tool - despite the fact that in some parts of the
world, such as Hong Kong, this technology has become a popular mass market product.
More recently there has been attempt to develop a consumer product when in 1995
Mercury and Motorola launched „Minicall‟. The innovation here is that users no longer
pay a monthly rental nor do they pay connection fees. They simply buy the pager, which
involves a one-off cost, and then calls are priced as normal telephony. Callers can pass
on a four digit number code to the pager which can stand for a short message - e.g. 1234
might mean „Leslie calling, shall we meet at the pub‟.


3.2 Early applications before the mass market

Wood (1993) argues that even before mobile phones were actually developed for a mass
market some applications had served to make mobile phones familiar and visible and in
this sense they prepared the way for a consumer product. For example, a number of
employers had issued mobile phones to employees who they had felt were in some way at
risk (for example, social workers going into difficult areas, British Rail buffet car staff
who had in the past been attacked, female employees on company business late at night)
Some police forces had even issued phones temporarily to women who feared an attack
by their ex-partners.

         Chance events were also to play a role. The highly publicised case of a pregnant
         women being killed when she left her broken down car to seek assistance led to
         pressure on the British automobile associations to produce a low cost emergency
         car based mobile phone precisely so that people in this situation did not have to
         leave the safety of their cars.

After conducting market research which showed „phenomenal interest‟ (Wood, 1993), the
car associations marketed their own emergency phones - „callsafe‟ from the AA which
only allowed calls to either the police of the association itself and „ET‟ from the RAC
which allowed other calls in addition. It is worth noting that at one stage TV
advertisements for these car rescue organisations actually showed women calling for
assistance from mobile phones while in their car. In our own research, this emergency
use when travelling was often cited as a reason for acquiring or at least having an interest
in mobile phones, so it would appear that these events and adverts had some effect.




Communications on the Move: The Experience of Mobile Telephony in the 1990s
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3.3 Marketing mobile phones

Like the majority of early home computer adverts, most advertisements for mobile
phones from manufacturers and operators focused on the technology rather than its uses.
The adverts mainly discussed specifications and price rather than discussing the
circumstances when such a phone might be useful. They appear to assume that we all
know what telephony is, and this is merely a new variation. In addition, there was little to
symbolically link this product to discourses about the information society - it is more
commonly assumed to be a useful tool.

         While TV adverts have mainly conveyed this message as regards work purposes
         one recent, and exceptional, TV advert portrays a boy on a train inviting others
         to use his father‟s phone when the train is delayed and the other passengers are
         desperate to let those they are meeting know about this.

This aside, the other main departure in the marketing of cellular was Mercury‟s One-to-
One service whose advertisements stressed that customers could make free off-peak calls
within the same local areas - which meant an area the size of London. This partly
positioned their product as a competitor to fixed, terrestrial telephony in that customers
could also use these phones in the home as an alternative to BT lines. Subsequently
Mercury has limited those free calls to weekends. The adverts also focused not on the
technology but on the female telephone operator offering this free telephony - and the
actress who herself added some symbolic meaning in that at the time of the launch she
was appearing in British serial/soap („the Bill‟) and subsequently moved on to become
the computer and telecoms expert in a British science fiction serial („Bugs‟)

Lastly, other companies have also added to the social meaning of the mobile phone
through their actions. The American car manufacturer Ford has used the free car phone in
some of its models as a selling point while National Westminster Bank has offered free
mobile phone to new customers opening an account.

         On the other hand, some adverts for other products have portrayed the mobile
         more negatively, such as the slightly comical situation where two people in a
         busy street are talking to each other via two mobile phones but do not realise
         they are next to one another.


3.4 Media coverage of mobile phones

The choice of different mobile telephony options facing consumers in the UK is very
wide. It has been estimated that the various operators and service providers currently
offer over 180 different tariff packages. Hence it is not surprising that much of the
national newspaper and magazine coverage of mobile phones has been in the form of
advice to consumers as to which package might best suit their purposes. Another theme

Communications on the Move: The Experience of Mobile Telephony in the 1990s
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has been to explain the economics of mobile telephony, especially the system of heavily
subsidising the handsets, with journalists critically noting that the consumers can
underestimate how much mobile telephony will cost them and that sometimes it may be
inappropriate to acquire it. Some customer dissatisfaction is evident from the fact that
Cellnet have noted that their „churn‟ rate, where customers give up the service, is 25%

Other stories discuss, in a positive fashion, the „boom‟ in mobile telephony and, in a
negative fashion, the huge problem of theft and fraud. Stealing phones from parked cars
is now a major cause of car crime and fraudulent use, making calls and charging them to
other people‟s accounts, is a major problem for the phone operators - which they often
chose not to emphasise in public.

        An increasingly common theme of magazine-type articles is the disruptiveness
        of mobile telephony in public places, which was also recently picked up in a
        morning TV discussion show devoted to the „mixed blessing of the mobile
        phone‟. Variations of this theme are also likely to appear in local papers, as in a
        story about children bringing mobile phones to school and trying to take calls
        during a lesson. (In this instance, phones were subsequently banned).

In general, the mobile phone‟s media image has changed very rapidly. In the late 1980s
and early 1990s it had a „Yuppie‟ image: it was a status symbol associated with brash,
showy, young male businessmen. And it was at this stage that the theme emerged of
how use in public spaces could annoying - in fact, the British Chancellor of the
Exchequer (i.e. finance minister) made a much quoted speech about mobile phones being
a pest, a ‟scourge of society‟ as he changed some of the taxes rules relating to companies
use of the technology. The theme may still remain, but mobile phones have in general
become „normalised‟ now, not associated with particular groups (apart from the fact that
they appear to be seen as part of the standard equipment of drug dealers).


3.5 Issues and use

Apart from mobile phone-related fraud and car crime, privacy issues have emerged
occasionally, especially when telephone conversations made on mobiles by members of
the UK Royal Family were intercepted (and reported in the press). Phoning while driving
is another issue: it may be technically illegal but the law is by and large not enforced.
Our own research indicates that this is one dimension of mobile telephony that gives
much cause for complaint. The other, and more commonly voiced one, is the
disruptiveness of mobile phone conversations in public places, which has been noted
above. Strength of feelings about this even provoked Cellnet to issue a mobile phone
etiquette booklet a few years ago.

To date there is no publicised research on the consumption of mobile phones in the UK.
Unfortunately our own research picked up only a few examples mobile phone users,


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partly because a number of the groups we researched (lone parents, the young elderly)
were less likely to have such equipment, and partly because much of that research took
place before the recent increase in the mobile phone market But anecdotally, mobile
phones are sufficiently commonplace now that one would expect to see and hear them
everyday in public, on trains, in cars, in pubs and hotels, in shops and as people walk
along the street or stand at street corners talking into them.




4. The Netherlands
(Muriel Abeln)


4.1 Introduction

The market for mobile communication is booming. Of late years everywhere in Europe
and also in the Netherlands mobile communications have grown with 40 to 60 per cent. In
autumn 1996 the Netherlands had more than 500.000 users of GSM which is almost
double of the year before. In November 1996 Netherlands first operator PTT Telecom
Mobile Network had 724.000 subscribers (GSM and NMT) and Libertel, which is the
second operator in the Netherlands, had 180.000 subscribers. This adds up to more than
900.000 users of mobile communications in the Netherlands. Most of them are
professional users but the number of private users is increasing (Van Amerongen, 1996).
PTT Telecom predicts that a quarter of Dutch society of 16 million inhabitants will be a
consumer of some form of mobile communications in the year 2000.


4.2 New possibilities

How can we explain this rapid growth of users of mobile communications in the
Netherlands? One of the factors that contributed to this are the big quality improvements
of the supply in recent years. Especially the improvements to the quality of the handsets
and the telephone connections have been important for developing towards a mass
market. It is hard to imagine nowadays but only ten years ago it was still necessary that
someone knew the location of the person whom he wanted to talk to if he wanted to use
his mobile phone. Also it was not possible to use your handset outside your car; you
could only use the mobile phone inside your car.

The past years the coverage of the mobile network in the Netherlands has been expanded
from the urban conglomerates to almost a national coverage. This also made a wider use
of the mobile phone possible. At present mobile calls have also much less transmission
breaks than in recent past and someone who wants to avoid the risk of being intercepted
now can option for GSM (Caspers, 1995).


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Furthermore handsets also have become much smaller and lighter so nowadays it is much
easier to carry your handset with you all the time if you want to. With all these
improvements of the mobile network and the terminals mobile telephony has leveled with
the benefits of traditional phone to a large extent. However communication between the
fixed and mobile networks is not always possible at the moment. Ideally the fixed and
mobile networks are transparent for the user - he or she doesn‟t know which one is being
used. Another and future incentive for the use of mobile telephony would be if all
services being offered for the fixed network would become available for mobile
subscribers e.g. data-services (Van de Broek et al, 1996).


4.3 History of the Market

Presently there are two mobile systems offered to the Dutch market namely NMT and
GSM. The NMT-network is still exclusively provided by PTT Telecom. In March 1980
PTT Telecom introduced a new, automatic and national mobile system named ATF-1.
This system replaced the former national radiotelephone network which only provided so
called „simplex‟ traffic i.e. the two persons involved in the phone call could only talk by
turns. ATF-1 was a new German system which was already operational in Austria,
Luxembourg and Western Germany. Early 1982 the ATF-1 network already had reached
its saturation point. The capacity of 6000 subscribers PTT Telecom had calculated before
was an underestimate as people made more calls and calls with more lengthy duration
than was expected. PTT Telecom therefore decided to build a second national mobile
network. This mobile network ATF-2 was based on the „Nordic Mobile Telephone‟
concept (NMT).

ATF-2 became operational in January 1985 with a capacity of 15.000 which could be
extended to 50.000. With ATF-2 the quality of mobile communication improved for the
users. Handsets now also could be used outside the car, there were less breaks in
transmission and it was not necessary anymore to know where someone was located.
Furthermore national coverage was extended with coverage in Luxembourg and from
1987 with coverage in Belgium as well.

Saturation point of the capacity of the ATF-2 network was reached within four years after
the introduction of ATF-2. In 1989 PTT Telecom launched ATF-3 as second NMT-
network - this is the same year the Royal Dutch PTT which PTT Telecom is a subsidiary
of was privatized - . This network has a capacity of 300.000 subscribers and can only be
used in the Netherlands, Scandinavia an Switzerland. The ATF-1 network was closed
down in 1994 and the official name for the networks ATF-2 and ATF-3 now is NMT.
The NMT network lacks the benefits of calling digital but is cheaper than using GSM
(Donk, 1996)

The first GSM-network in the Netherlands was established by PTT Telecom in July 1994.
In October 1995 a second GSM-network was provided by Libertel. Libertel was set up by
a consortium of companies among which the Dutch ING Bank and the English Vodafone.

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The duopoly of PTT Telecom and Libertel is an outcome of a bill that was introduced by
the Hoofddirectie Telecommunicatie en Post (HDTP), which is a department of the Dutch
Ministry of Transport and Public Works. This bill served as a break-through-policy for
the monopoly of PTT Telecom in mobile telephony.

Much is changed in the land of Dutch mobile communications since. One of these
changes is that prices have fallen spectacularly. A second fundamental change for
consumers is that „service providers‟ have entered the market which also increased
competition and led to falling of prices. These service providers are dealers who sell
subscriptions, terminals and different packages of service. PTT Telecom and Libertel
have their own service providers: Primafoon and Liberfoon. Next to this four independent
service providers offer their services to the market: Cellway, Belcompany, Debitel and
Talkline. Price-competition is held on the hardware and the subscriptions.
So the measures by Dutch government concerning the mobile phone market were
successful and have led to a larger supply, a falling of prices and therefore an increased
demand for mobile telephony within a short time period.

Nevertheless the Netherlands has been on the whole later in developing a mobile phone
market than some other European countries like the UK or the Scandinavian countries.
This can be explained by the late entrance of a second provider of mobile telephony, the
relative high costs of subscription and handsets and the limited offer of services to meet
the needs of users which was especially true for NMT in the beginning.


4.4 Social (un)acceptance of mobile telephony in the Low Countries

Although the number of residential users of mobile communications in the Netherlands is
increasing Dutch consumers consider mobile communications for the time being as an
additional service to POTS. This is in contrast with Norway and Sweden where a growing
number of residential users subscript to mobile telephony in substitution for fixed
telephone. Nevertheless present prosperous economic developments in the Netherlands
give consumer confidence and is expected to have some positive effects on the growth of
mobile communications in the residential market.

But how is mobile telephony perceived by the Dutch consumer? In the eighties and early
nineties a mobile telephone was still looked upon by the majority of Dutch society as an
expensive and glossy „toy for the boys‟, only suitable for salesmen and people of
questionable signature and „for men only‟. These opinions have made a swing to the other
side and by now in more and more sections of the Dutch population it is acceptable to
have a „little mobile‟ in your bag or pocket for business as well as private purposes.
Women and people of higher social classes are talking unconcerned into handsets which
was unthinkable only a few years ago.




Communications on the Move: The Experience of Mobile Telephony in the 1990s
                                                                                          18



         That there is no need to be ashamed anymore of having a mobile telephone must
         also have been the idea of a distinguished lady who went to a recital in the
         Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. She disturbed the performance of the pianist,
         broke the public silence and upset all persons present by letting someone call her
         in the concert hall. This story reached several Dutch newspapers (Haernynck,
         1995).

Could this change of attitude towards the acceptance of mobile communication in larger
sections of the population have been foresighted? Did society give any signals for the
more and more widely acceptance of the mobile telephone or did it all start as a small
peat fire that smouldered underground, unnoticeable on the surface of society?

         In connection with that I would like to stand still with an oral history that
         circulated in the Netherlands about three years ago. The story was that a young
         man got into a traffic-jam on his way to an interview for a job. Searching and
         thinking feverishly for a way to inform his engagement that he would be late he
         suddenly spotted a man calling in the car in front of him. The young man jumped
         out of his car, walked to the car in front of his car and tapped on the window.
         The driver opened his window and the young man explained the problem with
         his engagement and asked if he could use his mobile phone for a moment. The
         driver acted ill at ease and blushed to the roots of his hair and then stammered:
         “It‟s a phony”.

The first moral of this oral history is that the mobile telephone was becoming part of
society‟s culture. The second one is of course that the mobile telephone was starting to be
considered by people as something „to be seen with‟ in public. Marketing experts state
that the manufacturers and operators focus almost exclusively on the features of the
mobile telephone and forget the emotional component of the mobile telephone
(DeSwarte, 1996). Technological innovations are imitated in no time and new pricing as
well. Therefore it is put that the mobile phone should be displayed as a fashionable article
with social and symbolic components. The product itself offers many possibilities: it is a
continuation of your senses, it is worn on your body.

At KPN Research it is being researched how the telecommunication needs of a specific
target group can be translated to a physical product. The product will have specific
purposes which are supported by mobile services. To explore the potential
telecommunication needs of young people a number of in-depth interviews were done. In
the sequel research the perception of shape and social and symbolic needs was studied as
well. Apparently needs of being reached are related to the situations in which young
people are and to the groups of potential callers. E.g. most young people want to be
traceable for close family and best friends but for others, like pollsters or ex-boyfriends
they don‟t want to be traceable. So there are needs to be reachable but this should be
selective.



Communications on the Move: The Experience of Mobile Telephony in the 1990s
                                                                                           19


4.5 Public issues and use in the Netherlands

How radically has the mobile phone changed our life? US research has shown that
annually one of three users of a car phone almost has an accident and one of six actually
gets involved in an accident. This is often caused by the fact that many cars are not fitted
with a hands-free system with a separate microphone and speaker (Haerynck, 1995). The
latest sales figures show that six out of ten mobile phones which are bought don‟t have a
hands-free installation. At this moment politicians are reticent however to consider
regulations for phoning while driving.

The disruptiveness of mobile phone conversations in public places is another mentioned
issue in the Netherlands - although certainly not as much as in Israel where the local
authorities of Tel Aviv have made stickers with a notice saying „no talking with mobile
phones here‟ and a picture of a handset with a big X across. The well-known Dutch
biologist Dekkers argued that using a mobile phone in public is a form of being not toilet
trained; someone who can hold one‟s water until he sees a toilet can also hold his chatter
as far as the nearest phone booth (Van de Broek et al, 1996).

Another issue is the possible harmful effects of electromagnetic radiation produced by a
mobile telephone. Both the hand-set and base transceiver stations produce a certain
amount of radiation, but there seems to be very little research about possible effects of
this on humans (Bakalis, 1996). In addition to this it was reported in the media that
handsets activated wheelchairs and medical equipment in several hospitals which was not
intended (Haerynck, 1995).

Issues of control and reachability are not commonly mentioned in the Netherlands yet but
could become very relevant in the near future. Several studies of KPN Research suggest
that many people do not want full reachability, but want a certain degree of control
(Scherpenzeel et al, 1995; Mannak, 1997). An interesting utilization of the concept
„control‟ and the mobile phone can be witnessed in Israel. Many young students in Israel
come to school with a mobile phone in the satchel for some time now. The Israeli
telephone operators have done everything to sweep this market with the handsets. And
just like clothing brands there is a ranking. The mobile phone for a poor student is the so
called Mango. The Mango has the option to be called, but you can only call to one
number which is programmed beforehand. Parents can now be sure that the expense
account at the end of the month is affordable and your child can not say anymore that he
or she didn‟t have the opportunity to call home (Polak, 1996).




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5. Italy
(Leslie Haddon and Leopoldina Fortunati)


5.1 History of the market5

Overall the mobile phone has been very successful in Italy which is the biggest single
market in Europe, slightly larger than the UK one. That market has grow at a very fast
rate compared to other European countries over both the period when mobile telephony
was handled the state run telecom body and when it was transferred a newly formed
private company. By December 1996 there were nearly 6 million subscribers if we
combine the figures for analogue and digital systems. One measure of the rapid
development of the market is the growth rates of 73% at the end of 1995, and still, albeit
lower, rates of 47% by the end of 1996. Another measure of that growth is that in 5 years
the market grew to 3 million people - a figure which it took 10 years to reach in the UK,
11 years in Germany and 14 years in Scandinavia.

The first national cellular system RTMI (Radio Telefono Mobile Integrato) came into
operation in 1973. At this stage it was not possible to ring the handset directly but notice
of calls could be left by the operator. There were also some problems with handover
when users were in transit between cells. In 1985 the new automatic RTMS system
(Radio Telefon Mobile System) came into operation first in Rome and Milan enabling
immediate transfer of calls between mobile handsets and fixed telephones. Although this
was supposed to last until 1990s it was at saturation level by the late 1980s and so
although a GSM service was planned until it was ready another analogue service was
needed to cope with demand. It was decided to use an Italian version of the TACS
standard used in the UK. Called E-TACS (Extended Total Access Communication
System) this system was first promoted in the period of the Italia „90 football world cup.
It proved very successful and the point when we might say the mass market started to take
off.

As in the other countries where mass market was developing, a special tariff for non-work
use called „Family‟ was introduced in 1993, providing low rental and cheap off-peak
calls. It introduction lead to the market nearly doubling (1.2 to 2.2 million) and since
then further services have been added including an answerphone services, call waiting
and call forwarding.




5
    The following is based on an historical outline supplied by Telecom Italia Mobile

Communications on the Move: The Experience of Mobile Telephony in the 1990s
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        In Italy, the emergence of mobile telephony begun under the sign of fashion. Carried, as
        it often was, in a suit pocket or close to the neck tie, the mobile phone represented a
        violent aesthetic break. Indeed it broke the unspoken, though steady, balance whereby
        opulent classes were socially compelled to a kind of discrete form of consumption. By
        showing their mobile, they ended up showing their wealth no longer in a soft, but rather
        in a violent and unbearable way. For only a few people could originally afford a
        mobile…
        The hostility towards mobiles has therefore to be related to a particular way of showing
        off whose scope was way over the top. This lack in compliance with a shared sense of
        measure had also an impact on the sphere of the good taste. Those displaying and using
        a mobile were considered "gross" and "tacky" by ordinary people. Unlike the fixed
        phone which carried a sense of democracy, the mobile therefore gained a bad
        reputation. This reaction was so strong that politicians, people from show business,
        sport stars, and entrepreneurs increasingly let their secretaries carry and answer the
        phone…
        For these people, the mobile was not only something to show-off but also an extremely
        powerful tool to "save time" in their daily business. But for those blaming its obscenity
        and lack of politeness this did not matter at all. Ordinary people were by no means
        interested in the rationale of its functionality, they only stuck to an aesthetic/ethic
        appreciation. However along with such hostility, a grasping desire increasingly arose
        among ordinary people to appropriate such an impolite device…

In April 1995 GSM was launched with what were claimed to be the lowest prices in
Europe. Then in 1996 the „TIM‟ pre-payment card was introduced which offered users a
greater sense of control over the amount they were spending on mobile calls since it was
now possible to know that there were limits. Once again this to proved very successful
and over half a million subscribers had such a card by the end of 1996 (pre-payment cards
also proved a success in France when launched by the mobile phone competitor to France
Telecom). Recently in 1997 the option of SIM cards (Subscriber Identity Module) was
provided which allows users to insert a smart card into „neutral‟ mobile phone so that that
terminal receives calls made to the number of card owner and they are billed for calls
made from that number.

In terms of organisation change, part of the long process of privatising telecoms involved
setting up of Telecom Italia Mobile (TIM), a private company, in July 1995 to take over
all the mobile phone and paging operations of the PTT Telecom Italia. Then in 1996 the
state allowed a competitor specifically in the GSM market in the form of Omnitel, part
owned by Olivetti. By the end of 1997 the new company expect to have 1,400,000 clients
and a system that will covers 70% of Italy. By comparison, in 1996 figures for Telecom
Italia Mobile were 73% of the country and 96% of the population were covered by the
TACS system, 62% of country and 93% of population were covered by GSM.

Bibliography

Amerongen, M. van (1996) Jonge hond versus ouwe rot. Libertel en PTT Telecom en het
gevecht om de mobiele telefoon, Nieuws Tribune, 28 november 1996.


Communications on the Move: The Experience of Mobile Telephony in the 1990s
                                                                                      22


Bakalis, A.R. (1996) „Where is my yuppie teddy bear?‟ Adoption and use of mobile
telephony in Europe, KPN Research Report R&D-RA-96-0664.
Broek, W. van de, et al (1996) Toekomstverwachtingen mobiele communicatie in
Nederland. Behoeften en techniek in balans?, KPN Research interim rapport R&D-RA-
96-1247, december 1996.
Caspers, J. (1995) Mobiele communicatie in historisch perspectief: de wereld van vóór de
handhelds, Studieblad PTT Telecom 50, okt-nov 1995, pp 724-741.
DeSwarte, G. (1996) Zaktelefoons zijn dode dingen, Nieuws Tribune, 29 februari 1996.
Donk, M.P.J.M. (1996) De markt vooor mobiele telefonie, Directie Zaken: tijdschrift voor
direkteuren en hun adviseurs 4(1996)1, pp 54-56.
Haernynck, J. (1995) De plaag van de handtelefoon, De Groene Amsterdammer, 1
februari 1995.
Mannak, J.J. (1997) I‟m in control. Een persoonlijke communicator voor jongeren,
rapport in concept.
Wood, J.(1993) Cellphones on the Clapham Omnibus: The Lead-Up to a Cellular Mass
Market, SPRU CICT Report No.11, University of Sussex, Falmer, November.




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