June 07, 2006

Mobile Phones And The Army

windows mobile phoneNowadays almost everyone owns a mobile phone. This little genie is truly a wonder, as it is actually a programmable gadget with multifaceted activities.

You can store phone numbers, call and receive people, record and see videos, program ringtones, calculate sums, sms (short messaging service), do multimedia or even access this blog from it; to name a few.

If you think of the hardware, its bewildering. It has a unique IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Index) number and if your phone gets stolen it may be tracked by using this number, or the phone may be disabled altogether. It has an encryption key that allows encoded communication, so that people can not eavesdrop on you; a programmable SIM and countless other features. If you swap (exchange) Jack's SIM with Jill's SIM, the cellphones will behave differently. Their identities will be switched! With so many wizardry in it, it is almost at par with a laptop computer.

The access technologies include CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access), FDMA (Frequency Division, Multiple Access), GSM (Groupe Special Mobile), GPRS (General Packet Radio Service), TDMA (Time Division Multiple Access) protocols. These technologies allow a process known as multiplexing, by which different data may be delivered to people (sets) at different locations at the same time. Until now, the brand leader in cellular phone handsets is not Japan or Korea, neither it is the US; but countries from the Scandinavia, particularly Finland. So strong is the presence of Scandinavia (in these technologies) that the term Bluetooth has been coined after a Danish king (Harald Blatand, who united Denmark and Norway). Bluetooth is a technology of data transfer between phones using radio waves.

I hope that now there should be little doubt that this is really a very intelligent technology indeed. There is a caveat though. It is not a high powered equipment, and it is not capable of stand alone communication with the possible exception of infrared or bluetooth. It transmits to the cell tower (base station) which in turn relays them to the MTSO (Mobile Telephone Switching Office), every service providers have. Even then it is a beast in its own right. When a data or voice communicating device so versatile like this is developed, who gets it first? The army: because people at the helm wouldn't want such a useful communicating device to be at large, in the public hands. So, the technology was possibly in the hands of the army, which then percolated to the civilians only after better alternatives were available to them or the industry lobby stepped up the pressure on the government.

It is an open secret, that we civilians get technologies from the military after several years from their invention. If you consider Moore's Law (which states that the number of transistors on a fixed area of a chip doubles every two years), we can easily deduce how advanced (in technology) they are. Awe inspiring, isn't it?
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