Czech cell phone mania


Czech magazines and music channels are full of them - ads for the latest and funniest ring tunes and logos for mobile phones. And Czechs are mobile mad - there are 115 registered numbers for every 100 residents. The first model was introduced to the ordinary citizen fifty years ago. Back then "mobiles" weren't so mobile: they weighed a whopping 40 kg and could only be used in cars.

Technology has of course come a long way since then, and just this week the operator T-Mobile launched the first cell phone with TV reception in the Czech Republic. To discuss Czechs' love of the mobile I met Jaroslav Folta from the Technical Museum. He told me one of the main reasons they are so popular here is that is just a decade since mobiles were introduced to the average Czech:

"It was after the Velvet Revolution in the 1990s because the use of mobile phones was not allowed for political reasons. As I'm aware, they were used by the police before the revolution and probably in the Army as well. In the mid-1990s, foreign enterprises started introducing them."

What did they look like compared to what we have today?

"In 1984, Nokia introduced a mobile phone that weighed 4 kilos. Three years later, it weighed 800 grams and in 1990 the mobiles weighed only 80 grams. I'm sure in a few years' time we will have a television, computer, and more in one single small gadget."

Why do you think are mobiles so popular among Czechs? The youngest cell phone owner I know is five years old and I'm sure he is no exception...

"Yes. SMS text messaging especially is popular among Czechs. The problem as far as children using mobiles is concerned is connected with working mothers in the Czech Republic. Children go to school and come home by themselves. So, mothers use the mobile phone to keep in touch with them and the rest of the family."