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Cell tower in Munich
Cell towers on a residential building
Indoor cell phone location of Deutsche Telekom
SIM card for authentication in the cellular network
From left to right: cell phone mast with antennas for GSM, UMTS and LTE, railway mast (for GSM-R) and radio mast (node)

Mobile radio is the collective term for the operation of mobile radio equipment .

This mainly includes portable telephones ( cell phones , see also: cellular network ) and intercom devices built into vehicles (e.g. taxi radio ). However, there are many other areas of application, such as mobile data acquisition , radio paging services, telemetry , maritime and inland waterway radio services, public radio and amateur radio , which are not location-bound.

The German Federal Network Agency speaks of public cellular mobile communications services .

Land radio networks

The " public mobile land radio network " ( car telephone , public mobile land radio service, ÖbL) was a public radio network of the German Federal Post Office for communication between mobile radio stations and with terminals of the public telephone network. The services offered in this network were called "public land mobile radio services".

With the land radio network, it was possible to make national and international calls over the public telephone network using a car telephone: "The connection from a subscriber in the telephone network to the car subscriber takes place via the usual switching equipment , a transfer switching (which transfers to the radio network) and via that Land radio station that is geographically closest to the car participant ”. The vehicles had to be equipped with a radio communication system and be in the coverage area of ​​a fixed land radio station.

Satellite communication

Satellite-supported cellular networks also existed . The use of these systems, although they work worldwide, only makes sense in special areas because of cumbersome and expensive end devices and high call costs. However, it is becoming more and more established through better technology and lower prices where there is no landline or terrestrial cellular network, such as in the Middle East .


Technical classifications

A rough distinction is made between one-way systems (simplex operation), multi-way systems (half-duplex and duplex ) and multi-user systems ( multiplex ). In the case of one-way systems, only reception (radio call) or, more rarely, only transmission (radio, autonomous level indicators from the water industry, weather stations or “bugging bugs” ) is possible. In multi-path systems, the terminal can both send and receive. If this is possible at the same time (as with cell phones ), one speaks of full duplex.

Non-public and public cellular networks

Mobile communications are divided into a public and a non-public part.

The division into public and non-public radio services dates back to the period before the Postal Reform . In Germany, the Federal Network Agency is currently responsible for assigning frequencies and approving radio licenses.

Among the non-public mobile fall as the aeronautical radio and mobile radio . The spectrum of users of the company radio ranges from the police , the fire brigade and other aid organizations ( BOS radio = authorities and organizations with security tasks ) to transport companies ( e.g. aircraft radio) and taxi companies to private companies, e.g. in the construction industry .

As CB ( Citizens Band Radio , "citizens band" Anyone radio, community radio) refers to a radio in the 11 meter band to a total of 80 channels in the frequency range 26.565 MHz to 27.405 MHz. The range is around 10–15 km at the maximum permitted output power. The operation of mobile systems (especially in vehicles) has been free of permits and fees in Germany since 1975.

The amateur radio is private radio traffic that requires the successful completion of an examination that leads to a state license (amateur radio license). Each radio amateur is assigned a call sign. The frequencies for radio amateurs are internationally agreed. Every point on earth can be reached especially via shortwave. The use of amateur radio satellites is also possible. However, use is only permitted for purely private purposes; Exchanging political information or commercial use, for example, is prohibited. The first radio amateurs were active in the USA as early as 1911, today over a million worldwide, 78,000 of them in Germany (as of 12/2003).

The public cellular networks are made available by cellular operators . They can be used by anyone. The public mobile networks are the wireless telephone networks , the paging networks , the Rhine radio network and the Seefunknetz .

The task of cordless telephones is to connect a short-range radio telephone to the wired telephone network via a base station and to enable internal connections between several mobile parts connected to the base station. This can be interpreted as a non-public cellular network.

Economic and social importance of mobile communications

Social aspects

Mobile communications found widespread use in the mid-1990s , primarily through the GSM networks for mobile telephones . This made it a social phenomenon (“ cell phone etiquette ”) .

At transmission masts, which are often set up in exposed locations for technical reasons and thereby influence the landscape, criticism is sometimes expressed for aesthetic reasons.

Income can be generated by renting assembly areas for cell phone antennas on suitable structures. In this way, the costs of maintaining historical transmission towers as a technical monument are at least partially covered, such as the transmission tower of the Gleiwitz transmitter , the last existing wooden transmission tower.

Economical meaning

Today, mobile communications are an important economic factor. Mostly private cell phone companies compete for market share in a saturated market in Germany . Cellular technology played a special role in the development of the new economy and in the creation of numerous new jobs .

In 2010, a turnover of around 141 billion euros was achieved in Germany with mobile communications services. For 2016, global mobile phone sales were forecast to total around 1.24 trillion US dollars. This significant market power and market potential influence the objectivity of scientific clinical studies .

Health aspects

The International Agency for Cancer Research (IARC) classifies cell phone radiation as “possibly carcinogenic . It refers to a study from 2004, the intensive use of mobile phones increased by 40% risk of developing a glioma determined. The Interphone study used for this purpose was also criticized with regard to its methodology and interpretation. There was a solid dispute among the scientists involved. The Federal Office for Radiation Protection is referring to this study to the conclusion that it would not provided evidence of increased cancer risk. In particular, reference was made to the unclear results in intensive users. For example, the user information on daily usage time is sometimes incomprehensible and the patients have given the head of the cell phone when they knew the location of the tumor.

Scientific institutions such as the Scientific Advisory Board Funk active in Austria are of the opinion that no evidence is available for a biological effect of mobile radio devices. Investigations into the potential effects on children have only recently begun. The problem here is that studies with children and adolescents are prohibited in many countries for ethical reasons and therefore cannot be carried out in the same way as with other age groups. The question of whether there are differences in children cannot be answered seriously according to the current state of science.

Ecological factors

The mobile network in Germany consumed around 3.1 gigawatt hours of electrical energy in 2009. That was about 10 times the power consumption of all German cell phones. The energy consumption of the cellular network is made up of the consumption of the base stations and the access networks . The far greater part is accounted for by the base stations. When the networks began to spread, the focus was on availability and performance (Quality of Service, QOS) ; Energy saving potentials were neglected. This could result in significant improvements in the future. The optimization of the energy demand in the mobile network is therefore an essential aspect in the approaches to Green IT .

History of mobile telephony in Germany

A-network radio telephone (manufacturer: TeKaDe Nuremberg, 1963)

The first visions of the future of “pocket telephones” with which everyone “can connect with whoever he wants, no matter where he is”, were published in 1910 in the book Die Welt in 100 Jahre. Since 1926 there was a forerunner of the public mobile radio in Germany, the train radio in the form of a hand-switched public intercom in the F-Zug Berlin - Hamburg. There have been public cellular networks in the Federal Republic of Germany since 1950; they were not designed to be widely marketed. The mobile networks in Germany are named with consecutive capital letters.

  • The analogue hand-switched A network was introduced in 1958 by the Deutsche Bundespost under the name of Public Mobile Land Radio Service (ÖbL) and existed until 1977 (around 10,500 subscribers).
  • The analogue self-dialing network B-Netz was introduced in 1972 and was in operation until January 2, 1995 (approx. 27,000 subscribers).
  • The analog C network was a cellular mobile network of the German DeTeMobil (formerly Deutsche Bundespost). It was the third and, at the same time, last analog generation of mobile communications in Germany with around 850,000 subscribers and was in operation from May 1, 1986 to December 31, 2000.
  • The first digital D-Netz in Germany was introduced in July 1992 by the Telekom subsidiary DeTeMobil.
  • The first digital E-Netz in Germany was introduced in 1993 by E-Plus .
  • The first digital route based solely on GSM-R ( high-speed route Cologne – Rhine / Main ) operated by Deutsche Bahn was put into operation in 2002.
  • The UMTS networks are offered in Germany in the larger cities and metropolitan areas by all mobile phone companies.
  • In 2010, Telekom Deutschland put the first fourth-generation ( LTE ) ground station into operation in Germany.

The cellular networks in the GSM standard in Germany were initially divided into D networks (900 MHz) and E networks (1800 MHz); Meanwhile, all four German GSM networks also have (to a lesser extent) frequencies in the other band.

The call volume in Germany in 2010 was 91 billion minutes per year and thus had a market share of over 19 percent.

Statistical data on mobile communications in Germany

Mobile communications in Germany
year Sub-
Call volume
(billions of minutes)
outgoing incoming
1990 0.30
1992 0.53
1993 1.77
1994 2.48
1995 3.76
1996 5.55 0.10
1997 8.28
1998 13.91 1.00
1999 23.47 3.60
2000 48.15 11.40
2001 56.13 17.10
2002 59.13 18.40 18.4
2003 64.84 35, 00 33, 00 19.0
2004 71.32 38, 00 36, 00 19.7
2005 79.27 43, 00 43.12 0.22 20.3
2006 85.65 57.11 52.76 0.84 20.1 0.14
2007 97.15 70.03 61.16 3.54 23.1 0.18
2008 107.25 86.14 71.37 11.47 27.8 0.18
2009 108.26 93.61 76.23 33.29 34.1
2010 108.85 102.32 82.07 65.41 41.5
2011 114.13 107.28 86.22 99.74 54.9
2012 113.16 108.61 87.48 155.64 59.8 0.80
2013 115.23 110.00 87.46 267.00 37.9
2014 112.63 111.44 88.54 393.00 22.5
2015 113.80 115.00 591.00 16.6
2016 980.32
2017 1490.35
2018 2139.96
2019 140 2960.30 7.9

Mobile communications market in Austria

Mobile communications market in Switzerland

Mobile telephony in North Korea

While mobile telephony had already been established as an everyday means of communication in other countries, mobile telephones remained banned in North Korea for several years. In December 2002, 20,000 cell phones were then given to selected citizens on a trial basis, which were confiscated in June 2004.

In 2007, the Egyptian conglomerate Orascom Group offered to extend the long-standing ruins of the Ryugyŏng Hot'el , provided that its mobile communications subsidiary Orascom Telecom could set up a North Korean mobile network and operate it for over 25 years. As a result, the Cheo Technology joint venture was founded in the following year , which is 75 percent owned by Orascom and 25 percent by the North Korean state and received a license to operate a UMTS cellular network in the capital Pyongyang . In 2008 the Koryolink cellular network was put into operation. The first phone numbers assigned began with the digits "1912", the year of birth of former President Kim Il-sung .

2012 on board the USS Pueblo in Pyongyang: A North Korean soldier uses a mobile phone

Since then, it has been possible to make calls within North Korea at a relatively high purchase price, a SIM card with 50 MB data volume costs around  200 euros. There is a separate frequency for international calls, but this is reserved for foreigners living in North Korea. Connections between the two frequencies are not possible. Koryolink had 90,000 participants at the end of 2009, 430,000 at the end of 2010, and one million in February 2012.

So far, neither calls abroad nor the use of the mobile Internet has been possible. Furthermore, the officially imported mobile devices must not have memory cards, video cameras or a Bluetooth function.

Nevertheless, in 2013 the production of the first North Korean smartphone “ Arirang AS1201 ” (corresponds to the Chinese Uniscope U1201) was announced. Just one year later, another model appeared, the “ Arirang AP121 ”, which, however, is identical to the Chinese smartphone “THL W200”.

All smartphones run on Android , but do not have an app store like Google Play . It is not possible to install your own applications; this must be done at state-approved dealers.

According to media reports, people who want to have a mobile phone connection must not only provide their personal data but also a declaration that they will not make calls whose content touches state secrets and that they will not misuse the device. In addition, permission from the security authorities should be required. In the border area with China, however, people should be able to use Chinese devices to access the network of the neighboring country and thus also be able to make international calls.

The introduction of cell phones was banned until January 7, 2013. Corresponding devices had to be handed in on entry and were only returned to the owner on departure.

Cellular provider


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Web links

Wiktionary: Mobilfunk  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

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