This year it is 27 years since the first 2G GSM voice call was made. Apis spent much of the 1990s educating telecom people about radio time slots, base stations and MSC/VLRs. Actually, knowing the bare basics about mobile telephony almost gave you guru status and was occasionally used as a party trick to try to gain attention from people (sometimes of the opposite sex).

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Then came 3G with IP data and 4G with IMS and VoLTE and exciting new technology. GSM was considered old stuff that nobody really needed to learn about. And now we also have 5G. However, oddly enough, I realize that I have probably talked more about GSM in the last year than say 5 or 10 years ago.

So why is that?

First of all, let’s remember that GSM is actually a great system for some very popular services like voice calls (old-school non-IP) and SMS. Many operators around the globe have re-farmed radio frequency spectrum from 2G and 3G to 4G – and soon 5G – but quite often the 2G GSM network is kept while the newer 3G UMTS network is closed down.

The other reason why I talk more GSM now than a few years ago is that the new brilliant people that enter the telecom business now are simply too young to have had proper GSM training. Some of them were not even born 27 years ago, so they obviously never took our 4-day GSM System Overview course back in those days. Still, it makes a lot of sense for these people to have at least fundamental understanding of 2G!

A third reason is that the arrival of 5G also seems to trigger a need for more generic telecom training. We have had requests from IT departments, customer support teams and others who want to know what 5G is and how it is different from 4G – which they also may not know anything about. So it’s back to the fundamentals; what is the RAN and Core, how do radio waves behave, how does mobility management work. And it turns out that 2G is a very good starting point in order to explain the magic of 4G and 5G.

So, will 2019 Be the Record-Breaking Year for GSM Courses?

The answer to that question is “Absolutely not!”. But it caught your attention, didn’t it? Still, GSM and GSM training will be around for many years to come. Hats off to the clever people who started to create GSM back in the 1980s!      

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