Mobile Changes Life and Work | A Timeline of the History of Fiber Optics Technology | Corning

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Mobile Changes Life And Work

Mobile Changes Life And Work

In the 2000s, the mobile phone boom swelled the demand for moving data everywhere – between users and data centers, among data centers, and even inside data centers.

The introduction of smartphones put a phone, a computer, a music player, and a TV in every person’s pocket. Mobile phones that could just make calls and send short texts had become common by the late 1990s. The BlackBerry 850, released in 1999 with a monochrome screen and tiny thumb-typing keyboard, popularized wireless email.

But the smartphone revolution really kicked off once Apple released the first iPhone in 2007. “Apple Reinvents the Phone with iPhone,” the company declared in a press release that described the phone as three products in one: a high-quality phone, a music player, “and a breakthrough Internet communications device with desktop-class email, web browsing, searching and maps.” The company sold nearly 12 million iPhones the first year and more than 20 million the following year. Other companies such as Samsung, Motorola, and Nokia developed competing smartphones.

The new business of smartphone apps took flight. WhatsApp, founded in 2009, by 2020 had 2 billion users worldwide - the single most popular app on the planet. Other apps altered whole industries. Uber, also founded in 2009, changed the way people get around. Podcasts arose as a powerful new medium, which has meant that audio files have had to move through networks to end users.

The new smartphone era meant millions of people were suddenly sending and receiving web pages, media, emails, and calls via radio waves to cell towers, where the data would get aggregated and channeled into optical fiber lines to travel to servers all over the planet. Cell networks got faster – 3G, then 4G, and with 5G now emerging in the horizon – allowing users to seamlessly send and receive ever increasing amounts of data. Wireless devices would account for 388 billion megabytes of data usage in the U.S. in 2010. In another two years, that would more than triple. If not for the fiber to carry all that data, the mobile explosion could never have happened.

Wireless devices would account for 388 billion megabytes of data usage in the U.S. in 2010. In another two years, that would more than triple. If not for the fiber to carry all that data, the mobile explosion could never have happened.

Meanwhile, network operators were seeing an opportunity to provide fiber connections directly to homes, dramatically increasing connection speeds. In 2004, Corning introduced the first plug-and-play solutions for mass deployment of fiber to the home. Today Corning's plug-and-play solutions have reached more than 55 million homes worldwide.

While the rise of smartphones has spanned the globe, ownership and usage varies greatly by country. In South Korea, Israel, and The Netherlands, 90% of the population owns a smartphone, according to Pew Research. In developed nations such as Poland, Russia, and Greece, it’s more like 60%. In Indonesia, Kenya, and Nigeria, 40%. Interestingly, smartphone ownership is lowest in India, at 24%, yet because of its enormous population, that still translates into a boom in smartphone data transmission.

The History Of Optical Fiber

Corning Discovers Low-Loss Fiber →

Physicist Charles Kao described how fiber could transmit information in 1966. But it took three Corning scientists trying countless combinations of glass to finally discover a workable low-loss fiber.

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Fiber Gets Real →

By 1978, optical fiber was moving out of the lab and finding its first commercial uses around the world.

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A New Era In Voice Calls →

In the early 1980s, a revolution began in voice phone calls. Key to that was the arrival of fiber optics, which allowed companies to build new high-bandwidth lines that could carry more calls at lower cost.

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The Dot-Com Data Explosion →

The mid-1990s set the table for the internet era to unfold. High-bandwidth fiber networks could carry web pages, email and data across continents and oceans. By the end of the nineties, the internet would be an integral part of people’s lives.

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Mobile Changes Life And Work →

In the late-2000s, the smartphone and cloud freed computing from a place. Now every person could connect to the internet from anywhere. That in turn generated enormous new data traffic, hauled from place to place over fiber networks.

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Cloud Computing And Software As A Service →

As business shifted to the cloud, so did consumers, using social media platforms to not only connect but also to store photos and files. Corning innovations enbled the beginning of a new world of IoT, artifical intelligence, and virtual reality.

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The COVID-19 Crisis And A New Era Of Connection →

As COVID-19 shut down entire countries and moved work and life online, an unprecendeted surge in bandwidth demand made optical fiber more necessary than ever.

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Corning Celebrates 50 Years Of Fiber →

For the last 50 years, optical fiber has transformed the way we connect, and we can’t wait to see what the next 50 years has in store. Watch this video to learn more about this revolutionary innovation.

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