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!

Back when they were the “big eight” wireless carriers
During the past 20 years, two overriding factors have shaped the wireless carrier landscape: customer growth and carrier consolidation. The number of wireless customers has grown from less than 100,000 subscribers after the first full year of availability in 1984 to nearly 120 million subscribers today. While the number of subscribers has risen, the number of carriers those customers deal with has declined to the point where today the top eight wireless carriers serve more than 80 percent of the country’s wireless customers. The current big eight includes six “nationwide” carriers-Verizon Wireless with 28 million customers, Cingular Wireless with 21 million subscribers, AT&T Wireless Services Inc. with nearly 18 million customers, Sprint PCS with approximately 13 million subscribers, Nextel Communications Inc. with around 8 million customers, and VoiceStream Wireless Corp. with 5 million customers-and the two largest regional wireless operators-Alltel Corp. with 7 million subscribers and U.S. Cellular Corp. with 3 million customers. Together, these eight carriers add as many customers per quarter as what many in the industry early on thought would subscribe to wireless service by the end of the century … Read more

Wireless web for PDAs

MOUNTAIN VIEW, California, United States-A broad spectrum of technology companies, including Cisco Systems, Comverse, Intel, Microsoft, Philips Speech Processing and SpeechWorks International, agreed to form a forum to develop a platform-free standard for multimodal and telephony-enabled access to information, applications and Web services for personal digital assistants (PDAs) and other appliances. The forum, called Speech Application Language Tags (SALT), reportedly will extend markup languages such as HTML, xHTML and XML, and make it easier and faster to create, deploy and use applications and services … Read more

3G devices allowed to go global
TOKYO-An international standards body agreed on methods to support the unrestricted movement of third-generation (3G) terminals, called global circulation. The sixth meeting of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Working Party 8F for 3G matters said the standards will allow advanced personal services to be accessible while traveling outside a home network. “One important obstacle to a successful launch of 3G systems and services has been cleared away,” said Dr. Bernd Eylert, chairman of the Universal Mobile Telecommunications System (UMTS) Forum. … Read more

A salute to the technologies that never made it
Like a wordsmith, the wireless industry had lots of acronyms-B-CDMA, Ermes, FDMA, Modo, CT1, CT2, CT2-Plus-names that during their time were as familiar as cereals. They burst on the scene like meteors and disappeared with the hiss of expiring explosives. They died quietly ever after. When a technology is in the offing, the sponsors dream a flawless scenario: Networks hum, devices click, subscribers grow and bank accounts wax liquid. A revolutionary idea exhales prosperity. Act two: The sponsors orchestrate a feeding frenzy in the media, and deny any suggestions that the technology, like many others before, might die in the womb, even before it is born. These technologies have been tested successfully, and more than a few investors have smacked their lips on the prospects of the financial success of new protocols. But cruel time licked the technologies, one after another … Read more

Whoa, network sharing
DENVER, United States, and TORONTO—In the first such announcements from operators for second-generation (2G) networks, two separate network sharing agreements were announced this week—one between two U.S. operators and one between two Canadian carriers. In the United States, Cingular Wireless and VoiceStream Wireless entered into an infrastructure joint venture allowing Cingular to use VoiceStream’s network to offer service in New York and VoiceStream to use Cingular’s network to offer service in California and Nevada. The carriers said the agreement will save them hundreds of millions of dollars in capital expenditures and operating expenses going forward. The carriers pointed out that while they will share GSM network infrastructure in the shared markets, each will retain its own licenses and market its services independently to customers using its own brand names. The deal is expected to close early next year … Read more

China Telecom break-up
BEIJING—After months of prevarication, the Chinese government has decided to split the quasi-monopoly fixed-line operator China Telecom in two parts following geographical lines. Both the northern and southern split-offs of China Telecom may acquire mobile licenses, possibly next year. The northern part will merge with China Netcom, which has built one of the world’s most advanced broadband networks. The as yet unnamed company will offer local, long-distance and data services in 10 provinces and municipalities. China Telecom’s southern part will cover 21 provinces and municipalities. The aim of the split-up is to spur competition in the marketplace, but analysts question the effectiveness of the measure, as both companies will retain a quasi-monopoly in their areas. Competitors China Unicom and China Railcom currently pose a weak challenge with a combined market share for local services of less than 5 percent … Read more

Handsets talk to consumer electronics!
TOKYO—Toshiba and KDDI will jointly launch a field test for communications between digital consumer electronics and mobile handsets next March. About 500 households in Tokyo and Aichi Prefecture, central Japan, will participate in the field test, which is designed to verify technology that collects user information, such as preferences and daily activities, and sends the necessary information to users’ handsets by e-mail. KDDI will deploy an optical fiber network to each of the 500 participating households, and Toshiba will provide digital consumer electronics, such as a refrigerator with an agent system and a liquid crystal display (LCD) panel, to each of the participants … Read more

Mobile payments begin to emerge
SINGAPORE—Singapore’s telecom regular Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) has selected four consortia to trial mobile payment solutions through a US$11 million initiative. The trials will run from the first quarter of 2002 until the end of August and involve at least 10,000 pilot mobile users. The solutions will include direct debit payment, stored value solutions and credit card solutions. Trials will be run through local retailers. The four selected consortia were chosen from 12 groups that were short listed by an evaluation committee. “The selection process was based on a few broad criteria with an emphasis on an end-to-end solution, a valid proposition for the consumer and the export potential of the proposed solution,” said Lye Kin Mun, one of the evaluation committee members … Read more

Grow, GSM, grow
LONDON-The GSM Association reported more than 600 million people around the world use GSM phones, and it expects to exceed 630 million users by the end of the year. The association noted GSM networks are currently operational in 171 countries, with more than 55 General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) networks commercially deployed. “The GSM global wireless family continues to be the world’s fastest-growing and most widely deployed wireless technology,” said Rob Conway, chief executive officer (CEO) of the GSM Association … Read more

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

The post #TBT: Days of the “big eight” wireless carriers; salute to the technologies that never made it … this week in 2001 appeared first on RCR Wireless News.