GSM mobile-telecoms technology is 20 years old on Friday.
It was on 7 September 1987 that 15 operators from 13 countries signed a memorandum of understanding that led to the development of the Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM), the first pan-European mobile standard and, subsequently, the first global mobile standard.
"The 1987 agreement is widely regarded as the foundation of today's global mobile-phone industry and the birth of one of the greatest technological achievements of our age," said Rob Conway, chief executive of the GSM Association, on Thursday.
Sir Christopher Gent, former Vodafone chief executive and one of the deal's signatories, called it the "single most important agreement in the history of telecommunications". He claimed that GSM had "done more to bridge the digital divide than any other innovation".
GSM now has a monopoly among mobile services, with 85 percent of the market. The technology boasts two and a half billion users across 218 countries and territories, with more than a billion new handsets being bought every year. More than seven trillion minutes of calls are made and about two and a half trillion SMS messages are sent over GSM networks every year, according to the GSM Association.