As early as 1926, on the journey from Berlin to Hamburg rail passengers could use the train's mobile radio to place calls to the fixed network. But it was only in 1958 that Deutsche Bundespost set up the first public radio network with blanket coverage. The "A-network" car phones required to operate the system had to be installed in the car boot because of their size.
Deutsche Bundespost went on to install the "B-network" (1972 to 1994) on the occasion of the Olympic Games in Munich. Developments in transistor technology meant that devices were becoming smaller and lighter all the time. The "C-network" (1986 to 2002) represented a quantum leap in terms of technology: Voice transmission was still an analogue process, but signalling had become digital. A call could be forwarded automatically from one radio cell to the next. The downsizing of devices and a reduction in costs contributed towards the increasingly popularity of mobile systems.
The “mobile revolution” took hold at the start of the 1990s with the advent of new digital networks with GSM standard. Telekom (D1) and Mannesmann (D2) purchased the respective licences in Germany, where E-Plus received e-network authorisation in 1994, followed by Viag Intercom in 1998. These digital networks are compatible with one another, allowing data from the popular SMS and MMS messages to be exchanged.
In 2000, six UMTS mobile phone network licences were purchased at auction for almost 50 billion euros in Germany. The new devices allow much higher data transmission rates than GSM. Mobile terminals have now become mini-computers. The proportion of mobile data communications (sending e-mails, chatting, downloading videos, transmitting photos, surfing the web etc.) is growing rapidly and keeps the mobile phone network operating at the limits of its technical capacity.