There was a large amount of work carried out over my time in the GSM but it was only a minuscule fraction of the work that was still to come to develop the full technical standard, industrialise the technology, roll out all the networks and create the services. The first meeting of the signatories to the GSM MOU was a turning point. It began the transformation from a project led by the few into an industry comprising thousands and then hundreds of thousands and eventually millions.
It was not that my exit from the scene left me short of things to do. GSM was one of a number of projects I was involved in. Digital TV was beckoning and crying out for a European initiative. I very soon found myself working for Ian Taylor and Michael Heseltine in bringing about a digital terrestrial TV revolution in the UK.
Around 1989/90 David Hendon took over the GSM project from me at the DTI.
Figure 49 – David Hendon who took over from me at the DTI and went on to shape UK government policy for 3G
He had a bigger mountain to climb with others in GSM to ensure the GSM technical standard, comprising thousands of pages, emerged on time together with European wide mobile type approval. He went on to playing a leading role in shaping the UK government policy for the 3G mobile multimedia revolution in a very different political climate a decade later. Very few Civil servants can claim to have netted the Government a cool £20 billion in a single week. But that is another story
Over the next few years David, Jonathan Phillips (by then head of DTI international telecoms policy but later to become Sir Jonathan Phillips) and I had more projects running in parallel on the Single European Market than we could sensibly handle. The only place we could find to meet to keep each other informed was a pub in Brussels called The Princess – since we were all criss-crossing Brussels. Now, if we had GSM mobile phones at the time, that coordination could have been done from anywhere…an example of technology progress sometimes being a mixed blessing.
(NOTE: This is the second edition of “The Political History of GSM”.