Virtually until C21 dawned, mobile phones or to use the term adopted by American users, cell phones, were hardly used and needed even less except perhaps by nations' security and military forces. Even then their mobiles were huge awkward to use devices.
Before de-nationalisation of course, land line telephones were in the UK, part of the state provision.
Like much the state provided at the time, the ordinary GPO telephone was available to all at a price subject to waiting lists and queuing although making telephone calls from the ubiquitous and quite attractive telephone boxes around the country was inexpensive enough.
The main difficulties apart from waiting weeks for the GPO to install domestic land lines, were that not infrequently, the actual 'phone inside a public kiosk was 'out of order' and often calls had to be made inconveniently, through a telephone operator until the STD (subscriber trunk dialing) became the norm.
Following de-nationalisation of the country's telephone system British Telecom, now BT (formerly part of the GPO) agreed to sell off its stake in the then comparatively small mobile phone company 'Cellnet' to what is now O2.
Mobile telephony then began to take off so that by C21 many if not most people had contracts with one or other of the mobile phone cos and enjoyed not only personal telephony but also internet, texting, camera facility and 'apps' of one kind or another.
Although mrs maytrees and family members all use their mobile phones quite intensively as do most other people one sees in the street or public transport these days, not to mention private motor cars where the direct use by drivers is supposed to be illegal for safety reasons, I personally have hardly used my ancient mobile phone.
One reason for my dis interest in personal mobile telephony was a fear about health risks. Some close friends including one who started and really ran his chauffeur car business relying on the mobile phone system to do so, seemed, to become prone to tumours and the like, which I worried were mobile phone related. Another personal reason for eschewing mobile telephony up until now, is the effect it often has in causing users to concentrate on their hand held phones in the public street thus avoiding normal human greetings and other forms of more personal contact.
However even if the health worry that I still harbour has any substance, which is always denied, the mobile phone masts and airwaves required to operate the systems run by the various mobile phone companies, are now so ubiquitous that all are affected by them whether or not one personally uses a mobile phone.
Thus upon BT recently serving notice that their system which mrs maytrees and I had subscribed to virtually from its begining, in C20 was to change so that subscribers have to transfer to a new, needless to say more expensive system next month, we decided to upgrade. Mrs maytrees has relatives in Dublin and texting those friends and relatives is cheap and often more practical than land line telephone calls to them are.
Upon researching further, the cost of modern mobile telephony appears to me to be horrendously high. Our old BT mobile phones cost about £10 monthly combined and the ancient phones themselves were provided by BT as part of their package so nearly all that relatively small cost results from communicating with relatives and friends in Ireland.
The new mobile phone arrangements offered by BT are apparently cheaper than many, but are still far more expensive, at £40 monthly combined, than has been the case up until now. Even that new cost would be much higher if the price of renting new mobile phones was included. Instead we purchased 2 new American cell phones for a vast sum and contracted for a sim card only arrangement with BT. The new price and system do provide internet access and apps galore which were essentially not available under the current arrangement, as well as of course mobile telephony.
The health issue of mobile/cellnet telephony still worries me though I am in a minority of one about that.
However the far greater uses that the new 'phones might be put compared with the old, may make the price paid for buying them and to BT for using them, seem more reasonable - time will tell.