Thomas Haug

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Thomas Haug
Thomas Haug
IEEE/RSE James Clerk Maxwell Medal, Charles Stark Draper Prize


The groundbreaking contributions of Thomas Haug and Philippe Dupuis in developing the Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) set the international policy framework responsible for the success and continued advancement of international mobile communications. Haug’s experience in developing the Nordic Mobile Telephone project, a 1G analog system that was the first example of international roaming among mobile phone users in Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Finland, helped pave the way to developing GSM. Serving as chair of the Special Mobile Group of the European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administrations (CEPT), Haug was tasked with finding a consensus on 2G digital technology for mobile communications. GSM would be the solution. Dupuis led the Franco-German cooperation program that demonstrated digital technologies were mature enough to build the GSM system. Dupuis strongly supported using slow frequency hopping, which later allowed operators to manage the huge growth of traffic with reduced impairments to the quality of service. This enabled GSM to achieve performance equal or superior to competing digital systems. Under Haug’s leadership, GSM allowed the first digital telephone call in 1992 between the Finnish prime minister and the mayor of Tampere. His initiatives also led to the inclusion of the SIM card and SMS text messaging. Dupuis is credited with moving GSM from concept to reality, and he followed Haug as chair of the Special Mobile Group. Dupuis also promoted a smooth transition concept that ensured the continuation of GSM as a foundation for 3G, 4G, and even today’s emerging 5G standards. Haug’s and Dupuis’ development of GSM as a singular cellular standard to replace a plethora of competing national standards has stood the test of time in providing seamless service improvements for successful worldwide wireless communications.

Haug is the recipient of the 2013 Charles Stark Draper Prize from the U.S. National Academy of Engineering and is a former chairman of the Special Mobile Group of the CEPT (now the European Telecommunications Standards Institute) ; Sollentuna, Sweden.