Editor’s Note: RCR Wireless News goes all in for “Throwback Thursdays,” tapping into our archives to resuscitate the top headlines from the past. Fire up the time machine, put on the sepia-tinted shades, set the date for #TBT and enjoy the memories!

Recapping 15 years of cellular history
Never has an industry been so vastly underestimated as the cellular industry in its formative
years. When the industry celebrated its 10th birthday in late 1993, industry watchers joked about how wrong the early subscriber forecasts were, while putting out new subscriber forecasts that underestimated the market just as severely. Basing their predictions on a 1 percent or 2 percent projected cellular penetration, many early estimates said cellular subscribers wouldn’t even number 1 million by 1990, and analysts in 1993 forecasted the cellular market could reach 25 million subscribers by 1997 with penetration in the top few markets reaching 13 percent to 19 percent by 2004. But cellular surprised even its most ardent fans, reaching the 1 million-subscriber mark less than four years after its commercial launch in Oct. 1983, growing to more than 13 million subscribers after a decade and now surpassing 60 million subscribers in the United States. The industry has experienced monumental change in its first 15 years. The companies that led RCR’s list of the top 20 cellular operators in 1988, the first year the list was compiled, included PacTel Cellular, Lin Broadcasting Corp., Ameritech, Metromedia and GTE Mobilnet. Today’s list looks more like a who’s who of the former Bell system, with the list dominated by AT&T Wireless Services Inc., Bell Atlantic Mobile, SBC, BellSouth and AirTouch Communications Inc. … Read more

GPRS comes to Germany
STOCKHOLM-Ericsson Inc. announced it signed a contract with German operator Deutsche
Telekom MobilNet to implement General Packet Radio Service into T-Mobil’s Global System for Mobile
communications network. The technology will allow T-Mobil to offer wireless Internet and other Internet Protocol-based services at speeds up to 115 kilobits per second-a more than tenfold increase from the current network’s speed, said Ericsson. GPRS is a common step for both GSM and Time Division Multiple Access networks to handle higher data speeds and offer third-generation capabilities, said Ericsson. … Read more

Telstra’s GSM base reaches 2.2 million
SAN FRANCISCO-Telstra MobileNet in Australia said strong December growth and increased migration of subscribers from analog to digital service increased its customer base to approximately 2.2 million Global
System for Mobile communications customers and about 1 million analog customers. Telstra estimates MobileNet controls approximately 49 percent of the GSM market, 73 percent of the Advanced Mobile Phone Service market and 55 percent of the overall cellular market in Australia. … Read more

CDMA licensing debates delay 3G for NTT DoCoMo
The third-generation technology debate is beginning to have a negative impact on the valuation of the
world’s largest wireless carrier, Japan’s NTT Mobile Communications, which plans to become the first carrier in the world to deploy wideband Code Division Multiple Access technology. Dresdner Kleinwort Benson downgraded NTT DoCoMo from a “buy” to “hold” status Jan. 18, saying the company’s risk profile is
increasing because of a delay in the rollout of W-CDMA technology, which DoCoMo plans to offer commercially by 2001. Shinji Moriyuki, analyst with Daiwa Institute of Research in Japan, put DoCoMo on “hold” status in November. He agreed the company’s risk profile is increasing because of the uncertainty surrounding 3G technology. The International Telecommunication Union is looking to set a worldwide 3G standard capable of delivering high data speeds, Internet-friendly handsets and full-motion video by March. Sixteen different radio transmission technologies-the majority incorporating some form of CDMA technology-were submitted to the ITU from regional standards bodies and other entities. But the ITU in December announced it would likely halt any work on CDMA-based proposals unless intellectual-property-right disputes surrounding the two main CDMA proposals were resolved by the end of 1998. Both Qualcomm Inc. and L.M. Ericsson claim to hold patents to both W-CDMA technology-based on GSM technology-and an evolved version of today’s Interim Standard-95 technology called cdma2000. … Read more

Tom Wheeler’s take on the wireless industry of ’99
WASHINGTON-Thomas Wheeler, the president and chief executive of the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association, does not want to enter the ‘holy war’ between local and long-distance companies. Rather, he wants to focus on what is best for the wireless industry. And, what is best for the wireless industry is not to be regulated like a local phone company. Wheeler wants regulators to get out of the mindset of “If it looks like a duck and walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, let’s regulate it like a duck. We aren’t a duck. We are a competitive duck and this competitive duck is tired of seeing wireless policy made in footnotes in common carrier items.” In preparation for Wireless ’99, RCR reporter Heather Forsgren Weaver sat down with Wheeler to find out his vision for the wireless industry for the next year and beyond.
RCR: What are the critical issues facing the industry today?
Wheeler: From a business stand-point, existing in a competitive market is tough. Business practices in the kind of market that wireless has are therefore tough and challenging. I am thinking in terms of how companies do their business. How they have to change from the way they used to do their business because of the new intense competition. Today, there are over 60 percent of the people in America who can choose from five wireless carriers. … Read more

Hashing out deadlines for wireless number portability
WASHINGTON-The Federal Communications Commission is expected to grant a request from the
Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association not to enforce wireless number portability rules until at least November 2002. Portability refers to a customer’s ability to change carriers without having to change telephone numbers. The FCC consistently has said number portability is necessary for competition to develop. CTIA and other wireless players argue WNP is not necessary because the wireless industry already is competitive. The FCC’s Wireless Telecommunications Bureau already delayed the implementation of WNP until March 31, 2000. If, as expected, the FCC grants the CTIA forbearance petition on WNP, the deployment of this feature could be delayed for another three years or even longer. CTIA asked in its petition that forbearance be granted until the end of the buildout of personal communications services. … Read more

No coin-in-box scheme for toll-free payphone calls
WASHINGTON-The Federal Communications Commission last week rejected a proposal from the
Personal Communications Industry Association to institute a caller pays, or coin-in-the-box, plan for pay-phone compensation rather than the current carrier-pays setup. A coin-in-the-box proposal would require customers to deposit coins equal to the local call rate in a pay phone to make a toll-free call. Many paging companies offer toll-free numbers to their customers as an incentive for subscribing. When a customer chooses this service, others are able to place calls to the subscriber’s pager without incurring long-distance charges. Additionally, paging customers can retrieve messages by dialing a toll-free number. Currently, pay-phone users can avoid inserting coins, even for local calls, by dialing a toll-free number.
Last week’s decision was no surprise to PCIA, which had realized there “was little political will” for the coin-in-the-box proposal months ago, said Rob Hoggarth, senior vice president for messaging. … Read more

Mobex buys its way into more paging markets
LAFAYETTE, Calif.-Mobex Communications Inc. announced it acquired Indianapolis-based
Communications Maintenance Inc. and Richmond, Va.-based Radio Communications for its Commercial Services sector, expanding the reach of its specialized mobile radio and two-way paging services to 19 markets in 13 states. The acquisitions cost $12 million. From CMI, Mobex gained satellite offices in several Indiana markets, including Columbus, Kokomo and Evansville. The acquisition also establishes a Mobex presence in Little Rock, Ark. The satellite offices will focus on service installation and repair of two-way radios and base stations, said Mobex. … Read more

International calling profits drop as usage, competition increase
WASHINGTON, D.C.-A new, 90-country survey conducted by TeleGeography Inc. reports competition allowed international callers to stay on the phone six billion minutes longer in 1997 for the same price they
paid in 1996. Callers got more for their dollar mostly because usage grew while carriers’ profits shrunk. The survey shows international calls increased 14 percent from 1996 to 82 billion minutes, while revenues from overseas calls rose just 5 percent to $66 billion, thus causing the average price per minute to fall.
TGI’s report forecasts that prices will continue to decrease through at least 2001 as competition from other carriers and the Internet heats up. … Read more

Check out the RCR Wireless News Archives for more stories from the past.

The post #TBT: Recapping the first 15 years of cellular; CDMA licensing delays hit DoCoMo; Industry drags its heels on number portability … this week in 1999 appeared first on RCR Wireless News.