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!

Philly gives the green light to municipal Wi-Fi

WASHINGTON-The City of Philadelphia officially announced Thursday that its unlicensed wireless citywide network will be built and maintained by a new nonprofit entity known as Wireless Philadelphia. “Critical to the Wireless Philadelphia proposal is how this initiative will help conquer the economic and social disadvantage experienced by those without affordable access to technology, known as the digital divide. Government has long worked to ensure key infrastructure be made available to its citizens, such as the deployment of electricity and phone services. Philadelphia’s proposal will help low-income and disadvantaged individuals and businesses gain unprecedented access to technology,” reads a city statement. Wireless Philadelphia will spend $15 million to install and maintain the Wi-Fi system to be deployed on 3,000 city streetlights. It will then become a broadband wholesaler to Internet service providers, which in turn will sell access to the system to end users. The ISPs will have a cap on how much they can charge. The nonprofit also released a request for proposals to build and maintain the system. … Read more

Orange France launches Edge

PARIS-French wireless operator Orange S.A. said it will launch EDGE services geared toward business customers beginning April 18 with plans for a consumer launch scheduled for this summer. The carrier noted that the service would provide network speeds of up to 200 kilobits per second and would be complementary to its Wi-Fi and UMTS networks. Orange said the EDGE network would cover 85 percent of the population and 90 percent of businesses … Read more

Nextel follows the tower-selling trend

Nextel Partners Inc. said it has entered into an agreement with TowerCo Inc. to purchase, construct and own 300 cell towers for an undisclosed amount. The agreement calls for TowerCo to purchase up to 92 existing towers from Nextel Partners, predominately in the carrier’s North, Southeast and Midwest operations, for $12 million. Nextel Partners also has granted TowerCo exclusive rights to build or buy future towers up to a combined total of 300 towers by the end of 2008. TowerCo, which was formed in mid-2004 and headed by former SpectraSite Communications executive Richard Byrne, announced a deal in February with Cingular Wireless L.L.C. to build out more than 50 sites in Michigan and Ohio. … The deal follows similar tower selling announcements made recently by several wireless operators that analysts noted were positive attempts by carriers to monetize their tower portfolios and reduce operating expenses. … Read more

Camera phone controversy as the pope lies in state

ROME-Countless mourners sparked controversy by using camera phones to snap pictures of Pope John Paul II as the pontiff lay in state this week in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. The tech-savvy visitors who captured the pope’s image as they paid their last respects have drawn criticism by some who claim the snapping shutters and popping flashes are disrespectful. Funeral rites established by John Paul in 1996 prohibit non-credentialed photographers from taking such pictures, and signs in the Basilica also prohibit photography. But some camera-toting mourners said they were simply capturing a historical image of the body of a great religious leader. Vatican security staffers made no attempt to prohibit taking pictures. … Read more

Keep the cell phone ban on in-flight use, passengers say

WASHINGTON-Passengers on airplanes do not want the ban on cell-phone use while in flight lifted, according to a study released Thursday morning by the Association of Flight Attendants/Communications Workers of America and the National Consumers League. “Just think about being confined inside an aluminum tube several thousand feet above the ground with no place to go to get away from the person next to you, across the aisle, in front or in back of you chatting away on his cell phone. It is noisy inside those airplanes, and people are going to have to speak-or feel as if they have to speak-louder in order to be able to be heard,” said Patricia Friend, international president of the AFA/CWA. Almost two-thirds of survey participants wanted to keep the ban on cell-phone use while in flight. … Read more

Mobile brings its A game

Gaming is the fastest-growing category of mobile data services, with more than 6 million wireless users downloading a game in February, according to a new report from Seattle-based consumer usage measuring firm M:Metrics. The number of downloaded games increased 8 percent from January, the firm said. More than 15 million users said they either received a text message alert or used a mobile instant messaging service, or both, according to the report. More than one-third of all wireless users, nearly 66 million, sent or received a text message during the month. … Read more

AOL adds VoIP

WASHINGTON-America Online Inc. said Thursday it will begin offering Voice over Internet Protocol telephony, and to blunt the criticism other VoIP providers have received, it joined the National Emergency Number Association and said it will offer enhanced 911 as a standard feature. “We believe we can help consumers take full advantage of the revolution under way in Internet voice technology, but we need to make sure that we are doing it in a way that puts safety first,” said James Tobin, AOL vice president of voice strategy. AOL will join NENA’s Operational/Educational Roundtable, which is working to develop VoIP E911 standards. Additionally AOL and NENA will launch a consumer-education program about VoIP E911. “America Online has long been a technology leader with a real commitment to the safety and security of consumers. … Read more

VoIP and the 911 location issue

WASHINGTON-VoIP providers claim customers are informed that when they dial 911 using a Voice over Internet Protocol service, it is different than calling 911 from traditional landline or wireless phones. “You can’t call it 911 because 911 means something special,” said Chris Murray, vice president of government relations for Vonage Holding Co., at an appearance last week at the National Press Club. Murray said he uses the term “access to emergency services.” Verizon Communications Inc. offers a VoIP service known as VoiceWing. To use VoiceWing, customers must affirmatively give their locations and acknowledge they know the difference between VoiceWing 911 and landline 911 when they sign up for the service, said David Young, Verizon director of regulatory affairs. Both Vonage and Verizon said they make clear to their customers that if they have VoIP installed on laptops and they travel, that the computers will not know that they are not physically at the addresses they indicated when they signed up for service. Murray and Young were two of five panelists appearing at the National Press Club’s Tech Talk on VoIP. Many have complained that Vonage is not clear about the differences between its “access to emergency services” and dialing 911. … Read more

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

The post #TBT: Muni Wi-Fi in Philly; mobile gaming grows; AOL adds VoIP … this week in 2005 appeared first on RCR Wireless News.