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!

It’s a bird, it’s a plane … that is also a cell site!
UltraTek, a Torrance, Calif.-based telecommunications equipment research company, has filed patent applications for a global wireless telecommunications system that would turn commercial airplanes into flying cell sites. The company has proposed a system that initially would make use of airplanes flying between North America and the Asia-Pacific to transmit wireless signals. The airplanes, said UltraTek, would act as low-flying satellites and transmit signals using transmitters and receivers placed on commercial airliners. The signals can be transmitted from the ground to airplanes as well as from airplane to airplane, said the company. One or more airplane fleets would be used to create and maintain transmission chains, said the company. … Read more

Price wars worry Wall Street
Investors are nervous when it comes to pricing competition in the mobile industry. Just look at the effects of a Wall Street Journal article in April that described the competitive Jacksonville, Fla., mobile phone market. That article, in addition to AT&T Wireless Services Inc.’s introduction of its Digital One Rate plan in May–which eliminated roaming and long-distance charges for high-end users–caused some carriers’ stock to decline significantly. Now, as carriers aggressively begin to target mid-level and high-end subscribers and match offers like AT&T’s, Wall Street may not be kind. “The wireless market currently is a market that is fluid. Right now we have four or five operators competing for the same subscriber and even more so for the high-end subscriber,” said Larry Swasey, analyst with Allied Business Intelligence in Oyster Bay, N.Y. “The next few years are going to be like the gas wars of the ’70s. … Read more

Qualcomm gets ready to make its Leap
SAN DIEGO-Qualcomm Inc. announced a record date of Sept. 11 for the proposed spinoff of Leap Wireless International Inc. The board declared a one-share dividend of Leap for every four outstanding shares of Qualcomm. The distribution of Leap is expected to occur around Sept. 23 to shareholders of record Sept. 11.
Qualcomm plans to transfer assets of about $260 million to Leap at the time of distribution, the company said. Harvey P. White, a co-founder and former president of Qualcomm, will become president, chief executive officer and chairman of the board of Leap. … Read more

What a steal: $900/month for 1.5 Mbps
BELLEVUE, Washington-Advanced Radio Telecom Corp. launched commercial services on its new metropolitan area network in Seattle and the surrounding areas, following an eight-week service test by more than 20 business.
ART’s integrated broadband wireless and fiber-optic technology uses a packet switched Internet Protocol and asynchronous transfer mode network architecture to offer wireless data communications services featuring Internet connection speeds of 10 megabits per second, usually available only to direct fiber connections. The service is being marketed to business users at a lower cost than the existing alternatives, said ART. For about $900 a month, ART provides dedicated Internet Access service at 1.544 megabits per second, which is about half the average costs paid today by businesses for the same service. … Read more

A tangled 3G web in Japan
Recent developments in Japan suggest standards leaders there realize they must deal with the cdma2000 third-generation proposal. Japan’s standards body, the Association of Radio Businesses (ARIB), recently concluded that both W-CDMA, based on the GSM platform, and cdma2000 third-generation proposals are valid proposals and meet the objectives of International Mobile Telecommunications-2000-a technology initiative of the International Telecommunication Union that aims to develop a worldwide family of systems for next-generation mobile phone technology that will allow for high-speed data services and global roaming. In addition, ARIB and the Telecommunications Technology Committee, a Japanese IMT-2000 special committee, have agreed to partner with the American National Standards Institute’s 3G Wireless Ad Hoc committee to create a project that will develop specifications for the ANSI-41 standard and its associated radio interfaces, said George Arnold, a member of the ANSI committee and director of standards and intellectual property with Lucent Technologies Inc. Japan already is part of the European Telecommunications Standards Institute’s 3G Partnership Project that aims to develop global specifications for the W-CDMA standard. … Read more

Hey look, email (and faxes and texts) in your pocket!
NEW YORK-JVC Company of America, Wayne, N.J., and PocketScience Inc., Santa Clara, Calif., have teamed up to provide a portable e-mail system that is both complementary to and competitive with wireless services. At a news conference Sept. 16, Neil Peretz, a co-founder with Scott Fullam of three-year-old PocketScience, said they developed the technology in response to their expensive and complicated attempts to access e-mail while on vacation in Europe. By early November, JVC expects retailers to have available its HC-E100 PocketMail, a handheld device using an acoustic modem that can send and receive text e-mail messages. The $129 device, which operates on AA alkaline disposable batteries, also can send faxes and text messages to any e-mail-enabled pager. The calculator-size unit includes a small lithium battery to maintain system memory during battery changes. The HC-E100 can store up to 128K of information, including 100 messages of up to 4,000 characters each and an address book. … Read more

Hook up your PalmPilot to a cell phone to get web access
The massive popularity of 3Com Corp.’s PalmPilot personal digital assistant has spurred several mobile communications companies to develop wireless solutions for the product. The most recent application is from Mitsubishi Wireless Communications Inc., whose Personal Mobile Communications Division recently announced the availability of its new Palm-Pilot Connection Kit. The kit contains all the tools necessary to use Mitsubishi’s MobileAccess 100 series cellular telephone as a wireless modem to browse the Internet and send and retrieve e-mail from a PalmPilot. The kit includes the serial cable and software needed to both connect and configure the PalmPilot to the phone, respectively. The specific Mitsubishi phone in question is the MobileAccess 120, a wireless integrated voice/data smart phone that enables Internet/intranet access, fax/modem capabilities, e-mail and voice. It features two built-in modems for wireless network options-Cellular Digital Packet Data and circuit-switched Advanced Mobile Phone Service. Mitsubishi feels this is an advantage compared with other wireless solutions for Palm devices, which only connect to one network. The phone attaches to the PalmPilot or Palm III via a cable, which the company stresses maintains the integrity of the Palm devices. … Read more

Industry seeks to overturn wireless number portability
WASHINGTON-The wireless industry this week is preparing to argue before a federal appeals court in Oklahoma City that the Federal Communications Commission’s rules requiring wireless number portability were enacted improperly and should therefore be reversed. Portability refers to telephone subscribers keeping their telephone number when switching service providers. The FCC has said that number portability is essential for competition to develop. The wireless industry has consistently argued that wireless number portability is not necessary due to the competition that exists in the industry. The wireless industry is being led in its litigation efforts by Bell Atlantic Mobile who said in a brief filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit that the FCC should not have imposed the wireless number portability obligation on commercial mobile radio services providers because Congress only expected the obligation to be imposed on landline carriers. … Read more

Dabbling in prepaid paging
In the paging industry today, money talks. Carriers know this and are pursuing every avenue available to bulk up the bottom line. One relatively new road eyed by some carriers is prepaid paging. At first it sounds suspect, as prepaid services traditionally cater to low-tier, credit-challenged subscribers. One then might wonder how such a service package helps an industry bent on increasing average revenue per unit by attracting high-tier customers. Darryl Sterling, paging analyst at the Yankee Group, said prepaid payment options contain several carrier benefits. “You streamline the acquisition process and lower the acquisition costs,” he said. Prepaid paging requires no credit check, meaning less time and paperwork. Also, prepaid paging plans usually require the customer to buy the pager outright, something financial analysts prefer to leasing. … Read more

Prepaid: Always the black sheep
NEW YORK-Domestic wireless carriers “now have prepaid (services) fully introduced throughout their geographic territories,” but they lag behind their peers abroad in fully tapping its potential, said Scott R. Cassell, president of Globalnet Communications, an Indianapolis consulting firm. “It’s exciting to see prepaid take off in the United States,” he said at a Telecom Business ’98 conference seminar, here Sept. 3. Today, more than 250 wireless carriers in 75 countries offer prepaid services, Cassell said. Between now and the end of 2001, prepaid cellular and personal communications services worldwide will quintuple to an expected peak of about $2.5 billion, forecast Eric Stebel, associate publisher of “Telecom Business.” Despite that opportunity knocking, “no one but no one is marketing heavily to the (American) consumer,” he said. There is a wide variety of Americans to whom domestic carriers have yet to promote prepaid wireless services aggressively, Stebel said. These include the 4 percent to 5 percent of the population who lack any kind of phone service, travelers at airports and vacation resorts, members of affinity groups like the American Association of Retired Persons, college students at orientation meetings, families visiting amusement parks and customers of furniture rental stores. Perhaps the biggest barrier to broader adoption of prepaid wireless by the general public is its price, Cassell said. “In the United States, most (prepaid) services are extremely high relative to postpaid, and carriers have lost a great opportunity because of fear of taking customers away from the postpaid base.” … Read more

Y2K worries
SAN JOSE, Calif.-U.S. chip manufacturers endorsed a compromise legislative plan regarding Year 2000 disclosure issues that provides liability protection to encourage businesses to share problem-solving information about Y2K problems and solutions, the Semiconductor Industry Association said. The bill enables companies to disclose technical information about solutions for millennium bugs to other companies without having to worry about being sued for doing so. SIA and 39 other business groups in a letter to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) urged the legislature and the administration to approve the measure before Congress adjourns. … Read more

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

The post #TBT: Price wars worry Wall Street; Qualcomm preps to spin off Leap; Y2K worries … this week in 1998 appeared first on RCR Wireless News.