A mobile radio telephone

Mobile radio telephone systems were mobile telephony systems that preceded modern cellular network technology. Since they were the predecessors of the first generation of cellular telephones, these systems are sometimes retroactively referred to as pre-cellular (or sometimes zero generation, that is, 0G) systems. Technologies used in pre-cellular systems included the Push-to-talk (PTT or manual), Mobile Telephone Service (MTS), Improved Mobile Telephone Service (IMTS), and Advanced Mobile Telephone System (AMTS) systems. These early mobile telephone systems can be distinguished from earlier closed radiotelephone systems in that they were available as a commercial service that was part of the public switched telephone network, with their own telephone numbers, rather than part of a closed network such as a police radio or taxi dispatching system.

These mobile telephones were usually mounted in cars or trucks (thus called car phones), although portable briefcase models were also made. Typically, the transceiver (transmitter-receiver) was mounted in the vehicle trunk and attached to the "head" (dial, display, and handset) mounted near the driver seat.

They were sold through WCCs (Wireline Common Carriers, a.k.a. telephone companies), RCCs (Radio Common Carriers), and two-way radio dealers.


Early examples of this technology include:

Radio Common Carrier

Parallel to Improved Mobile Telephone Service (IMTS) in the US until the rollout of cellular AMPS systems, a competing mobile telephone technology was called Radio Common Carrier (RCC). The service was provided from the 1960s until the 1980s when cellular AMPS systems made RCC equipment obsolete. These systems operated in a regulated environment in competition with the Bell System's MTS and IMTS. RCCs handled telephone calls and were operated by private companies and individuals. Some systems were designed to allow customers of adjacent RCCs to use their facilities, but the universe of RCCs did not comply with any single interoperable technical standard (a capability known in modern systems as roaming). For example, the phone of an Omaha, Nebraska-based RCC service would not be likely to work in Phoenix, Arizona. At the end of RCC's existence, industry associations were working on a technical standard that would potentially have allowed roaming, and some mobile users had multiple decoders to enable operation with more than one of the common signaling formats (600/1500, 2805, and Reach). Manual operation was often a fallback for RCC roamers.

Roaming was not encouraged, in part because there was no centralized industry billing database for RCCs. Signaling formats were not standardized. For example, some systems used two-tone sequential paging to alert a mobile or handheld that a wired phone was trying to call them. Other systems used DTMF. Some used a system called Secode 2805 which transmitted an interrupted 2805 Hz tone (in a manner similar to IMTS signaling) to alert mobiles of an offered call. Some radio equipment used with RCC systems was half-duplex, push-to-talk equipment such as Motorola hand-helds or RCA 700-series conventional two-way radios. Other vehicular equipment had telephone handsets, rotary or push-button dialing, and operated full duplex like a conventional wired telephone. A few users had full-duplex briefcase telephones (which were radically advanced for their day).

RCCs used paired UHF 454/459 MHz and VHF 152/158 MHz frequencies near those used by IMTS.

See also


  1. ^ "BT Today: Car radiophone paved way for mobiles". Archived from the original on 2014-08-08.
  2. ^ "UK Public Mobile Radiophone Service". Storno.co.uk. 2005-09-28. Retrieved 2012-09-09.
Preceded by- Mobile Telephony Generations Succeeded by1G