Thomas Haug was born in Norway in 1927. He received a master´s degree in Electrical Engineering from the Technical University of Norway in Trondheim in 1951. He got a degree of Licentiate from KTH – corresponding to a PhD – from the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm in 1973. The title of his dissertation was “The interacting between the fixed network and the radio network in an automatic mobile telephone network”.
After working with the Ericsson group in Stockholm and with Westinghouse in Baltimore, MD, mainly with radio projects, he joined the Swedish Board of Telecommunications in 1966 where he was engaged in development of computer controlled exchanges. Together with the late Östen Mäkitalo (a radio communication expert) he led the joint Nordic project for cellular communication called NMT, whose secretary he was from 1970, later its Chairman. The first introduction of this analogue system was in Saudi Arabia in 1980 followed by the four Nordic countries in 1981-82. Due to unique combination of intelligence in the radio and fixed networks, the NMT enabled automatic roaming between any two users, irrespective of national borders. The NMT system reached 1 million subscribers in 1990.
When the decision for a common European system (GSM) was made in 1982 by CEPT (the association of European Telecommunication Operators), Thomas Haug was elected chairman of its steering committee with experts from a dozen countries. There he led the digitalisation and the introduction of features, such as SIM cards and SMS messaging. Haug stayed on as chairman until the system was introduced to the market in 1992. GSM, which in many ways is based on the same architecture as NMT, is now the world´s leading cellular system with networks in more than 200 countries.
Haug received, together with Mäkitalo, the Gold Medal of IVA (the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences) in 1987. He further received the Philip Reiss Medal from the Federal German Ministry of Post and Telecommunications in 1993 and the Eduard Rhein Prize from the Eduard Rhein Foundation in 1997.