The exchange and base stations for the first Swedish automatic system were ordered from Ericsson, while SRA was asked to produce five carphones. These were used extensively during the following trial operations from 1951 to 1956. Towards the end of this period, Televerket lent units to external organizations. The general public got acquainted with these newfangled devices at several exhibitions. On Swedish radio, actor Stig Järrel joked about these incredible gadgets.

The most attention was attracted by a trial early in 1955 when the Stockholm medical association in collaboration with the rescue services organized an emergency care system for nights and weekends with doctors in cars equipped with carphones. The city was divided into four districts, each patrolled by a radio-equipped car with a driver and an on-call doctor. The doctor could call straight to hospitals, chemists and others. One benefit was that the doctor could ring to say that he was standing outside an apartment block and needed someone to open the front door.

When the system was finally adopted for commercial operation in Stockholm on April 25, 1956, the term mobile telephone was introduced once and for all. The system was called the Lauhrén Mobile Telephone System, after its designer (later it was renamed Mobile Telephone System A, MTA).

It was calculated that the four coordinated channels could cope with 100 cars, which was considered a reasonable number for one base-station area. The range was 25–30 kilometers; it took about eight seconds to make a connection; the telephones weighed about 40 kilograms and the car required an extra battery.

Subscribers were allocated five-digit numbers in a series that began with 95 – which restricted the number of potential subscriptions to 1,000. All the equipment was owned by the agency and leased to subscribers who paid a fee when they signed up. The telephone equipment often cost as much as the car in which it was installed.

By the end of 1956, 19 carphones had been installed in Stockholm and eight in Gothenburg. A year later there were about 50 in Stockholm and 30 or so in Gothenburg. The Stockholm public works department set up a third Lauhrén system with three channels for 50 vehicles.

When the Lauhrén system was closed down in 1969, there were 69 subscribers in Stockholm and 56 in Gothenburg.

Author: Svenolof Karlsson & Anders Lugn

Base station in Gothenburg

Base station in Gothenburg

A car equipped with Lauhréns system

A car equipped with Lauhréns system

A MOBILE EXCHANGE FOR THE LAUHRÉN SYSTEM

A mobile exchange for the Lauhrén system

© Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson and Centre for Business History

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