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Cellular Revolution 

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The first practical application of microwaves in a communication system took place more than 80 years ago. In the 1930s, an experimental microwave transmission system was used to connect the United Kingdom with France—bridging the English Channel without cables.

In the 1950s, AT&T built a 10-channel microwave radio relay system in the United States that was capable of carrying 5,400 long-distance calls per channel, supporting a total of 54,000 simultaneous callers.

The emergence of television provided another opportunity, as network broadcasting was relayed to local affiliates across the country.

In the 1980s, analog RF systems began giving way to more efficient, higher-capacity digital systems to accommodate rising traffic demand. Even then, microwave networks typically provided long-haul communications—but all that was to change with the development of another ubiquitous consumer RF technology — the cellular telephone.

Cellular Revolution 

The worldwide proliferation of cellular networks introduced a critical demand for new microwave backhaul infrastructure; after all, a cell site could only generate revenue if it could move its traffic to and from the rest of the network.

Connecting individual sites to the main network called for a reliable, affordable and powerful means of transmitting large amounts of aggregated data over the span of a few kilometers—and its infrastructure would have to be quickly deployed to keep up with rising demand.

The telecommunications industry adopted a small, single-channel microwave radio system mounted directly onto the back of a smaller antenna.

This solution provided the capacity the industry needed, but without the complex installation required by traditional long-haul microwave systems.

Since those early days, the wireless industry has continued to grow exponentially—moving data as well as voice and creating a consumer experience that has led to nearly universal expectations of constant, reliable connectivity all over the world.

As new network technologies and standards emerged, point-to-point microwave communication has remained the backbone of the entire model, connecting millions of users to their networks in a seamless tapestry covering the planet.

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