CTIA Celebrates Women’s History Month
March is Women’s History Month, and to celebrate, CTIA is proud to honor the achievements of women in the wireless industry.
Women inventors, engineers, and technology experts have played key roles in creating modern wireless networks and cell phones—from using spectrum in new ways, to influencing the design of the devices, to planning and building networks. Today we profile four women who have had a major impact on the wireless industry:
Modern wireless communications are based on technology invented by Hedy Lamarr. Lamarr, known largely as an actress of the 30’s and 40’s, created Spread Spectrum Communication Technology, which allows individuals to talk to one another over a secure line, without interference.
Spread Spectrum uses frequency hopping, where a single message is sent via radio signals through different frequency channels. Lamarr and George Antheil patented the technology during World War II as a more secure way to communicate and guide torpedoes, but its potential wasn’t recognized until the 50’s and 60’s.
Spread Spectrum has been foundational for wireless communications. Wireless networks, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi technologies of today were built on its ability to efficiently leverage multiple spectrum frequencies simultaneously. Lamarr and Antheil were honored in 1997 with the Electronic Frontier Foundation Pioneer Award and inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2014.
Arlene Harris has been called the First Lady of Wireless. She began her career in telecommunications at age 12, when she worked as a telephone switchboard operator for her family’s telecommunications business. She went on to be an entrepreneur for over 35 years, starting several wireless companies.
Harris helped create the process for wireless network roaming and most recently co-founded GreatCall, a connected health company for aging Americans. GreatCall offers the Jitterbug phone and wearable devices to help older individuals track their health and stay connected. Harris has received multiple awards and recognitions, including the honor of first woman inducted into the Wireless Hall of Fame.
Kris Rinne has had a huge influence on today’s wireless networks. She planned wireless networks for AT&T and Cingular, and set standards and certification programs for how devices and networks should work. She was instrumental in the first launch of the iPhone and the creation of 4G LTE’s network architecture. From 2011 to 2014, when she retired from AT&T, she was named one of the Top 10 Influential Women in Wireless by Fierce Wireless. She was also named to the Wireless History Foundation’s Wireless Hall of Fame in 2013.
In 1996, Randice-Lisa Altschul invented the first disposable cell phone, called the Phone-Card-Phone. Based on the idea that people might want to buy a cell phone for an allotted amount of time, Altschul worked with engineer Lee Volte to develop and patent the technology. The original phones, made of mostly recycled paper, inspired others to create what we now know as the prepaid cell phone. The Phone-Card-Phone won Frost & Sullivan’s 2002 Product of the Year award.
These women innovators have shaped the wireless industry and we are thankful for their contributions.