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!

National League of Cities fights federal preemption on infrastructure siting
WASHINGTON-National League of Cities President Mark Schwartz vowed last week to defy federal regulatory and wireless industry efforts to pre-empt local regulation of wireless antenna siting and to litigate the issue if necessary. “Zoning and land use is a local government issue,” Schwartz told RCR in an interview following his keynote speech at the NLC congressional conference here last week. “It is not the state or federal government’s job or role to tell me what land use should be in my community. That’s a community decision.” Schwartz, a Ward 2 council member in Oklahoma City, said wireless carriers and local officials have worked well together on antenna siting in that locale. But he added, “The issue of pre-emption I will not yield on.” In his speech, Schwartz was even more demonstrative. “Our third action agenda priority is to defy, and to halt efforts at the federal level to get into the business of telling us what we may or may not do at the local level,” said Schwartz. … Read more

Nextel comes to NorCal

OAKLAND, Calif.-Nextel Communications Inc. introduced digital wireless service operating on Motorola Inc.’s integrated Digital Enhanced Network technology in northern California. The enhanced specialized mobile radio company also began offering its PowerFone in conjunction with the iDEN network. The PowerFone offers call waiting, hold, forwarding, last number redial, 100-member phone list, multiple call timers, voice mail, instant conferencing and messaging services. The PowerFone is available in portable and mobile-installed models. Prices start at $200, and monthly service rates begin at $24. … Read more

US GSM subscribers triple in five months
SAN FRANCISCO-The national Global System for Mobile communications network grew from 100,000 subscribers to 300,000 subscribers in the last five months, according to GSM North America. Six companies have launched GSM service in the United States since personal communications services were initially launched in 1995. That translates into 140 cities in 21 states and one Canadian province. GSM is a proven technology with more than 30 million customers in 110 countries, according to the organization. In North America, 20 PCS companies have or are expected to choose GSM.

PacBell Mobile launches GSM
SACRAMENTO, Calif.-Pacific Bell Mobile Services launched its Global System for Mobile communications personal communications services network in Sacramento, Calif. The company said as part of the introduction it is offering double the amount of airtime on any calling plan to anyone who initiates service before May 18. The plans range in price from $10 per month with airtime at 35 cents per minute to $60 per month with 300 free minutes of airtime and additional airtime priced at 15 cents per minute. Pacific Bell also announced it has selected Metrica’s network performance management system to manage the newly launched system. Once Pacific Bell extends its PCS offering in California and Nevada, the Metrica system will be used to monitor the network, which will cover a potential subscriber population of 35 million people.

Nokia gets into CDMA handsets
SAN FRANCISCO-Saying the timing is right to pursue the Code Division Multiple Access technology-based handset market, Nokia Mobile Phones Inc. announced it plans to build phones for the CDMA market. Nokia said it has designed its own chipset to be used in its handsets, the first of which are scheduled to be commercially available this summer. The company plans to build its first CDMA phone, a dual-mode 800 MHz handset, based on Nokia’s 2100 series. The company’s initial CDMA products will support an 8 kilobit-per-second vocoder and 13 kbps vocoder. The phones also will fully support IS-95A features such as short messaging and caller line identification, said Nokia. Nokia established a CDMA research center in San Diego in 1991. But the company to date is noted more for its devices based on Global System for Mobile communications technology, including the Nokia 9000 Communicator. … Read more

MVNOs: The wave of the future!
NEW YORK-As unlikely as it may seem at first glance today, an affinity marketing company and an airline reservation system offer a glimpse into the future landscape of the wireless telecommunications industry. Working Assets, a cause-related marketer, is a successful example and role model for “a one-stop-shop virtual carrier, a `switchless’ reseller that outsources everything but its billing,” said Jerome G. Lucas, president of TeleStrategies Inc., McLean, Va. The privately held company, headquartered in San Francisco, offers Internet access, long-distance phone service, paging, “and will eventually offer wireless (telephony),” Lucas said March 11 at a seminar titled, “Making Sense of the New Telecommunications Market for Financial and Strategic Planners.” Working Assets donates 1 percent of its revenues, which it reported as $120 million last year, to environmental and other “liberal” causes, Lucas said. It has 250,000 customers, mostly in California. “It’s apparently profitable. It’s growing like crazy. Its churn rate is extremely low,” he said. “You get free calls to Congressmen. Paying your bill is a happy event. The bills come on recycled paper printed with soybean ink, so if times get tough, you can eat your bill.” … Read more

Early battles over hands-free mandates
NEW YORK-A bill that would mandate hands-free cellular phone use while driving cleared the Executive Committee of the Illinois General Assembly March 12 and now goes to the full house. The vote was 10-4, said State Representative Robert Bugielski, a member of the Executive Committee and lead sponsor of the bill. Eight votes were needed to release the bill for consideration by the full General Assembly. The General Assembly has until April 25 to vote whether to approve the bill and send it on to the Illinois State Senate for consideration. “I have to start working with 118 people,” Bugielski said, referring to his fellow elected representatives in the General Assembly. “Now the industry knows about it, and they will be against it. I’ll talk with them and see what can be done.” Tim Ayers, vice president of communications for the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association, Washington, said CTIA, “has always advocated the use of hands-free phones … but doesn’t think a law is needed.” Many customers who use their wireless phones extensively for business purposes already own hands-free aftermarket devices, Ayers said. But requiring everyone to do so would impose an undue financial burden on cellular customers who carry the phones just for emergency use, he said. “Legislation like this is introduced across the country each year, but it’s never become law,” Ayers said. … Read more

When a cordless phone would cost you $700
FORT WORTH, Texas-Uniden America Corp. introduced a cordless phone operating at 900 MHz, which the company said allows business users to have a portable handset with features of a desk phone. The EXP9600 emulates most major Private Branch Exchange networks and Key Systems with features such as hold, transfer and conference buttons and multiple line capabilities, the company said. It includes a liquid crystal display for information such as caller ID and time of day, and it also has a headset jack and belt clip for hands-free operation, keypad lock and vibrating alert. Uniden said it will market the phone to businesses already using a PBX or Key System who want to switch to a wireless environment. The phone will be available in May, the company said. The handset, charging cradle and RF base unit will retail for $700.

LA Cellular Telephone gets rave reviews
LOS ANGELES-Los Angeles Cellular Telephone Co. is receiving positive feedback from users of its SmartDigital phone, which combines a digital wireless phone, alphanumeric pager and an answering machine. Subscribers to SmartDigital can send custom messages, monitor voice mail and screen incoming calls, the company said. SmartDigital also features a sleep mode, which extends battery life while accepting incoming calls. The company said the service is comparable in price to traditional analog cellular services, particularly when factoring its offer of a free first minute on incoming calls.

Seeking more public safety spectrum
WASHINGTON-Rep. Curt Weldon (R-Pa.) plans to introduce two separate pieces of legislation aimed at aiding the public-service industry in its quest to secure additional spectrum and new equipment to take it through the year 2005. Presiding over a March 11 town meeting held in conjunction with the annual National League of Cities meeting, Weldon-a former volunteer firefighter and fire chief-said he was in complete support of the Public Safety Wireless Communications Committee’s request for 24 megahertz, gleaned from a set-aside of certain parts of broadcast channels 60-69 now in auction contention, and that he would introduce legislation not only to codify the allocation but to begin the search for the additional 73 megahertz needed after 2005. Weldon also pledged to forward a bill to establish a national low-interest loan program-funded at between $1 billion and $2 billion by auction proceeds-to purchase public-safety equipment. Pennsylvania and New York already have 2 percent loan programs available to public-safety entities to install new equipment or to upgrade existing systems. … The National League of Cities targeted public-safety spectrum as a “1997 hot issue” late last year, and it has informed Congress and the Clinton administration of its concerns. … Read more

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

The post #TBT: Cities fight federal siting rules; Nextel comes to NorCal; GSM subs triple in 5 months … this week in 1997 appeared first on RCR Wireless News.