Years ago, when mobile phones were the size of bricks and weighed twice as much, taking one abroad would have been as worthwhile as a skiing holiday in Norfolk. These days, it’s completely different and, no matter where you are or what network you’re on, you never need be out of touch.

This is all thanks to another of our acronym friends, GSM. This stands excitingly enough for Global System for Mobile communications, and is by far the market leader in mobile/cellular standards with over 1.5 billion users in 210 countries.

GSM is not the only standard, but it’s presence in virtually every global market means mean’s that it is probably the de facto one.

Its popularity only seems to be growing. The recently concluded 3GSM conference in Barcelona boasted of over 50,000 visitors. To find out more about why 50,000 people would attend a show on something as interesting as a global standard.

Of course, these days it’s difficult to remember a time when every person you knew and their dog didn’t have a mobile phone. A blissful time when, if you were out of the office, you could quite happily wander hither and thither with no one needing to find out that the important business meeting/conference/doctor’s appointment you were attending had in fact finished hours before hand, before turning into a welcome session down the pub.

An old boss of mine who’ll remain nameless, in the days before mobiles became almost compulsory for office staff, managed to call in sick one day before disappearing with her then boyfriend down for an early start to a dirty weekend in Brighton. In those days there was no need for her to constantly monitor the caller ID to know when to adopt the appropriate croaky voice.

These days it’s a completely different story of course, whether lying in bed desperately ill with flu or enjoying some quality time wandering down a sun kissed beach you can still expect to hear from someone regarding your outstanding credit card balance or what you expect the monthly sales figures to be.

Of course, the benefits of mobile communications far outweigh the drawbacks, and with GSM it’s good to know that wherever you are, a friend is just a few digits away.