• CTIA wireless timeline photo - DC/Baltimore and Chicago launch cellular systems


    Experimental cellular systems launch in Chicago and the Washington, D.C./Baltimore region.

  • 1981

    FCC issues Cellular Communications Systems Order, determining the cellular industry should have two carriers per market and creates cellular “A” and “B” licenses for each area of the country.

  • CTIA wireless timeline photo - Communications Amendments Act 1982


    Congress passes Communications Amendments Act of 1982, giving the FCC authority to issue licenses by lottery and requiring applicants to meet certain minimal conditions.

  • 1983

    On October 13, the first commercial cellular system begins operating in Chicago. In December 1983, the second system is activated in the Baltimore/Washington, D.C. corridor.

    Motorola introduces the DynaTAC mobile telephone unit, the first truly “mobile” radiotelephone. The phone, dubbed the “brick,” had one hour of talk time and eight hours of standby.

  • CTIA wireless timeline photo - CTIA Founded 1984


    The Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association is founded.

  • CTIA wireless timeline photo - 340,213 cell subscribers 1985


    There are 340,213 cellphone subscribers.

  • CTIA wireless timeline photo - Baltimore ceremonial call on Bell Atlantic service 1987


    With media looking on, Baltimore city council president Clarence “Du” Burns places a ceremonial call on the city’s Bell Atlantic service.

  • 1988

    FCC’s Auxiliary Cellular Services Order adopts technical flexibility rules for cellular radio without mandating specific standards, which promotes the introduction of advanced cellular technologies by the industry.

  • CTIA wireless timeline photo - cell subscribership surpasses 5 million 1990


    Cellular subscribership surpasses 5 million.

  • 1992

    The number of cellular users passes the 10 million milestone.

    World’s first commercial text message is sent by employees of Logica CMG.

  • 1993

    Congress adopts Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993, which establishes national framework for wireless regulation and authorizes FCC to auction spectrum for the first time. The license auction raises more than $7 billion for the U.S. Treasury.

    The first smart phone (IBM's Simon) is announced to the public and offers consumers a calendar, address book, calculator, email, faxing services and games.

  • 1995

    There are more than 33.8 million wireless subscribers, representing approximately 13% of the total U.S. population.

    The average consumer uses his or her phone for 115 minutes per month and paid $51.

  • CTIA wireless timeline photo - Telecommunications Act of 1996


    The Telecommunications Act of 1996 becomes law, in part designed to open other communications markets to competition.

  • 1997

    Balanced Budget Act of 1997 calls for auctioning additional commercial spectrum by Sept, 2002. Advanced Wireless services (AWS-1) auction concludes Sept. 18, 2006, raising nearly $14 billion for U.S. Treasury.

  • 1998

    The wireless industry unveils its "Safety – Your Most Important Call" to help educate drivers about the dangers of distracted driving.

    The average consumer uses his or her phone for 122 minutes per month and paid $39.43.

    The first "bucket" of minutes plan is offered.

  • CTIA wireless timeline photo - Wireless Communications and Public Safety Act of 1999


    With the Wireless Communications and Public Safety Act of 1999, the FCC designates 911 as the universal emergency number of wireline and wireless service and promotes the use of technologies that help public safety service providers locate wireless 911 callers.

  • 2000

    Wireless subscribership in America exceeds 100 million, totaling approximately 38% of the U.S. population.

    Digital wireless users outnumber analog subscribers.

    The Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association™ merges with the Wireless Data Forum to become the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association™.

  • 2001

    The average wireless consumer uses his or her phone for 320 minutes per month.

    November 8, FCC votes to raise CMRS spectrum limits for individual carriers from 45 MHz to 55 MHz, and subsequently eliminate cap in January 2003.

  • CTIA wireless timeline photo - camera phones introduced 2002


    Camera phones are first introduced in the U.S. market.

  • 2003

    With the Secondary Markets Order, the FCC creates a "secondary market" which permits licensees to lease any amount of their spectrum.

    October 13 marks the 20th anniversary of commercial wireless communications.

  • 2004

    The Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association™ changes its name to CTIA-The Wireless Association™.

    The average wireless consumer uses his or her phone for 584 minutes per month and paid an average local monthly bill of $50.64.

    Congress enacts the Commercial Spectrum Enhancement Act, creating the Spectrum Relocation Fund to recover the costs associated with relocating radio communication systems from certain bands.

  • 2005

    Spurred by the Hurricane Katrina disaster, the wireless industry, together with the American Red Cross, develops the national Text 2Help Initiative, which allows customers to donate $5 via text message in the event of a major disaster.

    Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 enables Digital TV Transition and directs auctioning of 700 MHz of spectrum licenses. Auction concludes March, 2006, raising almost $19 billion for the U.S. Treasury.

    Subscribership reaches nearly 208 million, which is approximately 69% of the total U.S. population.

    Subscribers use more than 1.5 trillion voice minutes and send and receive more than 81 billion SMS messages.

  • CTIA wireless timeline photo - iPhone launches 2007


    iPhone launches, spurring dramatic handset innovation.

  • 2008

    There are more than 270 million wireless subscribers who use more than 2.2 trillion minutes; more than 1 trillion SMS messages are sent and received in the U.S.

    The average wireless consumer uses his or her phone for 708 minutes per month and pay $50.07 in the average local monthly bill.

    iTunes Application Store (July) and Android Market (October) open.

  • 2009

    There are more than 285.6 million U.S. wireless subscriber connections which is approximately 91% of the total U.S. population.

    Wireless subscribers use more than 6.2 billion minutes per day and send and receive more than 5 billion SMS messages per day.

    Palm Software Store (January), BlackBerry App World (April), Nokia Ovi Store (May), Palm App Catalog (June) and Windows Mobile Marketplace (July) app stores open.

  • 2010

    First 4G handset is introduced at International CTIA WIRELESS show.

    After the devastating January earthquake in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, a record-breaking $35 million is donated via text message.

    FCC proposes National Broadband Plan, recommending 500MHz of spectrum be allocated for commercial use by 2020.

    In June, President Barack Obama signs a memorandum committing to freeing up 500 MHz of spectrum for the wireless industry.

  • 2011

    U.S. President Barack Obama announces his National Wireless Innovation and Infrastructure Initiative that would expand wireless coverage in the U.S.

    CTIA launches "go wireless, go green" website to provide useful information about measures consumers can take to be more environmentally responsible, CTIA members' initiatives to improve their operations to be more sustainable and the eco-friendly value wireless provides other industries.

    CTIA, FCC, Consumers Union and participating providers announce the "Wireless Consumer Usage Notification Guidelines," which are free alerts to help consumers avoid unexpected overage charges.

    AccessWireless.org received the FCC Chairman's Award for Advancement in Accessibility.

    There were 315.9 million wireless subscribers who used more than 2.295 trillion minutes; more than 2.303 trillion SMS messages sent and received and more than 867 billion MB of data traffic carried on wireless providers' networks in the U.S.

  • 2012

    The Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act passed, which included provisions to make a substantial swatch of spectrum for commercial use.

    CTIA, FCC, FEMA and wireless providers announce the Wireless Emergency Alerts system, which sends concise, text-like messages to users WEA-capable devices.

    CTIA and its members announced its voluntary agreement and subsequent "Before You Lose It" education campaign to help users deter smartphone thefts and protect their personal information.

    CTIA and The Wireless Foundation launch "Growing Wireless" to provide parents with tools and information to educate themselves so they may teach their kids how to use wireless technology responsibly.

    CTIA released its "Guidelines for Federal Political Campaign Contributions via Wireless Carrier's Bill" to provide a framework for federal candidates to conduct political fundraising campaigns via text message.

    CTIA and its participating members announce the CTIA Green Working Group and its initiatives.

    CTIA, The Wireless Foundation, The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) and Syniverse announce the Wireless AMBER Alert program transitioned to Wireless Emergency Alerts on December 31, 2012.

  • 2013

    CTIA and IFA announced our partnership in creating the first "borderless" trade show in 2014 as part of Super Mobility Week powered by CTIA.

    President Obama signed a Presidential Memorandum on Expanding America's Leadership in Wireless Innovation to expand America's leadership in wireless broadband technologies, bringing the importance of available spectrum to the forefront of economic development.

    CTIA announced the redesign of its website to improve users experience and understanding of the U.S. wireless industry.

    The Voluntary Principles on Unlocking Wireless Devices were announced, enhancing transparency and disclosure of device unlocking policies by participating wireless carriers. The principles were adopted as the 12th point of the Consumer Code for Wireless Service.

    CTIA released KnowMyApp.org as a resource for consumers to estimate the amount of data used by a given app.

  • 2014

    CTIA and Los Angeles television stations successfully executed a channel sharing project that proved it was possible for broadcasters to remain over-the-air while freeing up spectrum for commercial wireless providers.

    The "Smartphone Anti-Theft Voluntary Commitment" was released by CTIA and participating wireless companies to help prevent smartphone thefts in the U.S.

    Meredith Attwell Baker was named the next President and CEO of CTIA, effective June 2.

  • 2015

    CTIA-The Wireless Association refreshes its brand with a new logo.

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