Richard Frenkiel received the BSME degree from Tufts University in 1963 and the MSME degree from Rutgers University in1965. At Bell Labs, he began his work on cellular systems in 1966, focusing on the cell grid, and on cellular operations such as locating and handoff.
He was an author of AT&T’s 1971 cellular proposal to the FCC and the inventor of a method for cell-splitting that greatly simplified the logistics of cellular growth and reduced system cost by more than 50%. He became head of Mobile Systems Engineering in1977, and served on the EIA committee that drafted the US standard for cellular.
In 1983 he left cellular to become head of R&D for AT&T’s cordless telephone business unit, where he led the team that designed the 5000 series of cordless telephones and was responsible for its early manufacture in Singapore. Following his retirement from Bell Labs in 1993 he joined WINLAB, the Wireless Information Networks Laboratory at Rutgers, where he teaches a course in wireless business strategy. He served as Mayor of Manalapan Township, NJ in 1999. For his work on cellular systems and cordless telephones, he has received the Alexander Graham Bell Medal of the IEEE (1987), the Achievement Award of the Industrial Research Institute (1992), and the National Medal of Technology (1994). He is a fellow of Bell Labs and of the IEEE, and a member of the National Academy of Engineering.