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 those sepia-tinted shades, set the date for #TBT and enjoy the memories!
BlackBerry goes global with CDMA + GSM
Research In Motion Ltd. announced a “World Edition” BlackBerry for international travelers that combines CDMA and GSM technology and will be sold by Verizon Wireless and Sprint Nextel Corp. The two-carrier deal covers the two CDMA operators in the United States, an arrangement that may reflect RIM’s clout as purveyor of a sought-after device, and plays off the two carriers’ competitive pursuit of market leader AT&T Inc./Cingular. The new BlackBerry 8830 follows on the heels of a GSM BlackBerry (model 8800) already sold at AT&T’s wireless division that works on European and other international GSM frequencies. The new CDMA/GSM device will offer voice services in most countries around the world and a new “always on” e-mail service in about 60 countries. At Verizon Wireless, which will lock the 8830 to deliver roaming revenue to its Euro-parent, Vodafone Group plc, the 8830 will launch through business sales channels on May 14 and at the carrier’s stores two weeks later. The price is $300 with a two-year subscription; a $100 discount is available when the purchaser signs up for certain voice and data plans. … Read more
AT&T CEO Ed Whitacre retires
Ed Whitacre announced that he will retire as CEO and chairman of the board at AT&T Inc. effective June 3. The 65-year-old is the longest-serving CEO in the telecommunications industry, having served as chairman and CEO of Southwestern Bell since 1990. When he took the reins 17 years ago Southwestern Bell was the smallest of the Baby Bells, but Whitacre helped steer the company into the most recent reincarnation of AT&T, now the world’s largest communications company. AT&T’s COO Randall Stephenson has been named Whitacre’s successor. “I have had the extraordinary privilege to lead this company for 17 years, and I leave with complete confidence in the future of our great company,” Whitacre said. “Randall Stephenson is an exceptional leader. He has a deep understanding of this business and a clear sense of where it should go.” After beginning his career with Southwestern Bell Telephone in 1982, Stephenson became CFO at SBC Communications Inc., which in 2004 acquired AT&T Corp. and Bellsouth. … Read more
Helio’s losses weigh down Earthlink earnings
Internet service provider Earthlink Inc. announced a net loss of $30 million for the first quarter of 2007, including a $29.3 million loss on its mobile virtual network operator endeavor Helio L.L.C. The company reported a net income of $16.4 million in the same period a year ago. Helio, which is a joint venture between Earthlink and Korean telecom giant SK Telecom, reiterated its previous projection of surpassing 100,000 subscribers during the second quarter of 2007 as it generated $30.4 million in revenue during the last quarter. The MVNO’s revenue for all of 2006 was $46.6 million. Helio reported a net loss of $63.1 million during the quarter, of which Earthlink experienced a $29.3 million loss based on its proportionate share of the MVNO. Earthlink carried a loss of $35.7 million on Helio during the fourth quarter of 2006. Earthlink also made a $13.5 million capital contribution to Helio during the quarter. The company expects Helio to end the year with 200,000 to 250,000 post-paid subscribers with an ARPU of $90 to $100. Although Earthlink expects Helio to more than triple its revenue for the year to $140 million to $170 million, it anticipates recording a loss of $160 million to $180 million based on its share of Helio’s expected net loss for the year of $330 million to $360 million. … Read more
Dueling unlimited messaging offers from AT&T, Verizon
As has become commonplace between the nation’s two largest wireless providers, AT&T Inc. has followed its smaller rival Verizon Wireless in unveiling unlimited text messaging plans for its wireless service. The AT&T offer, dubbed Messaging Unlimited, provides customers with unlimited text, picture, video and instant messages to any wireless phone in the United States for $20 per month. AT&T previously capped its messaging offers at 3,000 messages per month. AT&T is also offering an unlimited in-network messaging add-on to its traditional 200 message kit for an additional $5 per month, bringing the package total to $10 per month. AT&T also boosted the messaging capabilities of some of its bundled data packages. The carrier’s $15 MEdia Works package received an additional 500 messages, bringing its total to 1,500 messages plus 5 megabytes of data transmission, while the MEdia Max package grows from 3,000 messages to unlimited text messaging with unlimited data for $40 per month. Verizon Wireless launched its unlimited messaging service earlier this month, providing customers with unlimited messaging to any domestic U.S. wireless device for $20 per month. Verizon Wireless did one-up AT&T by extending the offer to its family plans, allowing all lines to send unlimited cross-network messages for $30 per month. Current Analysis’ William Ho noted “this can potentially generate better data revenue for AT&T/Cingular, but will lose points for being family unfriendly, especially when Verizon Wireless now offers such an option.” … Read more
Carriers seek to drive data uptake with new packages
As carriers tempt customers to move into data services beyond text messaging, some of them are designing service or accessory packages that specifically appeal to how different types of customers will make use of their phones. Sprint Nextel Corp. recently introduced a new series of segmented data packages, offering various options at similar or equal price points in order to appeal to different categories of customers. The carrier is offering six different CDMA-based data packages, dubbed Vision Packs. They include packages that focus on navigation, music, television, as well as expanding the carrier’s basic Vision offering while retaining the same price points as it previously offered. Current Vision customers will not see a change in their bills, according to Sprint Nextel spokeswoman Emmy Anderson-but they’ll have access to 99-cent music downloads and $3 per-day use of the carrier’s turn-by-turn GPS navigation service. “We’re looking for new ways to encourage customers to use data in a way that’s really relevant to them,” said Anderson. Dividing data products into service-specific packs helped customers decide which is best for them, she added. In-store kiosks are set to help educate customers about their options, and the packs are detailed on the carrier’s Web site. … Read more
‘Push-ringer’ gains financial backing to override a phone’s usual ringtone
Some high-profile investors are wagering on Emotive Communications Inc. and its “Push Ringer.” The Encino, Calif.-based company last week said it pocketed $7.7 million in a funding round from Warner Music Group, Bertelsmann Digital Investments, the D.E. Shaw Group and undisclosed angel investors. Emotive said it will use the cash to push its flagship product, which allows a caller to temporarily override the ringtone of the person being called with another tune. Push Ringers are application-based clips that can feature audio, video, animations, avatars or Flash files. Emotive, which has applied for a patent for the technology, claims it has seen 800,000 downloads of the application by Skype users since the product came to market last year. The firm is unveiling its mobile prototype of the technology for smartphone users at next week’s IMS World Forum in Monaco.
“Consumers are influenced by their peers,” said Emotive CEO Anthony Stonefield, who founded the ringtone storefront Moviso in 1993. “We are creating the ultimate word-of-mouth network, literally by inserting music and video into the initiation of a phone call.” … Read more
Check out the RCR Wireless News Archives for more stories from the past.