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!

Words to live by, circa ’97
1997-It was the year that simultaneously showed the promise and the pain of new entrants into the wireless industry. PCS companies thrived and dived, one paging business declared bankruptcy, while others reached record-level subscriber figures. Cellular carriers showed us they still have a few tricks up their sleeves. Looking back at the year, some of the people gave RCR such good quotes, I thought we should revisit them one more time:
“It is downright shocking the FCC has moved to assist broadcasters to site antennas to deliver `I Love Lucy’ reruns, but has done nothing to assist wireless consumers to call 911 or tell a family member they’re running late,” Thomas Wheeler, CTIA president, on antenna siting moratoria.
“Whoever did this had the means and the motive. The whole thing stinks like New York Harbor at low tide,” BIA International analyst Ed Czarneki on Argentina’s PCS tender scandal.
“Just because I’m not bankrupt doesn’t mean I’m not experiencing the same issues,” Conxus President Bill deKay, commenting on license payment restructuring for PCS carriers. … Read more

Qualcomm technician accused of spying in Russia
WASHINGTON-State Department officials last week told Qualcomm Inc. that Russian authorities will not require technician Richard Bliss to return to Russia to face espionage charges. Bliss, who was arrested Nov. 25 while working on a wireless local loop system in the southern Russian city of Rostov, was allowed to return home for Christmas. The Associated Press quoted Vladimir Andreyev, a spokesman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, as saying: “There is no need now for him to come back, but the investigation is going on and there might be a need for him to come back at some point.” Qualcomm and the U.S. government have maintained the charges are baseless. … Read more 
Editor’s note: Follow-up story here.

A brave new WAP
REDWOOD SHORES, Calif.-After introducing the architecture for the Wireless Application Protocol last September, collaborators L.M. Ericsson, Motorola Inc., Nokia Corp. and Unwired Planet Inc. announced they established a new company called Wireless Application Protocol Forum Ltd. According to the companies, WAP is meant to bring Internet content and advanced services to digital cellular phones and other wireless terminals. The WAP Forum aims to administer the worldwide WAP specification process in hopes of creating a global wireless protocol specification that works across different types of wireless network technologies. … Read more

Do as I say, not as I … *crash*
WHEATON, Ill.-The majority of cellular phone users acknowledge the dangers of driving while using their phones but continue do so anyway, according to a survey conducted for the Insurance Research Council. The survey found that 84 percent of cellular phone owners believe using a phone while driving is a distraction and will increase the chance of an accident, but 61 percent of all users say they still use phones behind the wheel. Younger cellular phone owners were less likely to consider such action a risk and were more likely to use their phones while driving. Half of wireless phone owners in the 18-24 age group said they frequently used their phones while driving, while only one-third of older groups claimed the same. The IRC is an independent, not-for-profit firm founded by property-casualty organizations that provides information to parties involved in public policy issue affecting insurance companies and their customers. … Read more

Farewell, Toll Free Cellular
Toll Free Cellular has laid off most of its employees and put the company up for sale after AT&T Wireless Services Inc. opted not to proceed with plans to offer nationwide #800 cellular service. Seattle-based Toll Free, which partners with mobile phone carriers to sell 800 numbers to businesses willing to pay for incoming airtime charges, was banking on a contract with AT&T Wireless to take the #800 service national and had expanded its resources within the last year on the basis that a contract would be signed, said company Chief Executive Officer Mark Lazar. “We had been building up our staff and putting up a fourth round of financing predicated on this contract coming in,” Lazar said. “We had confirmation from them that they were going to be doing this. The contract was ready to sign. It was a big shock to us … We found ourselves not able to recover quickly.” AT&T Wireless spokesman Mike Broom said company representatives advised Toll Free throughout negotiations “that no final deal could be made without a final approval in context of AT&T’s business priorities.” … Read more

Welcome to the Digital Age
As 1998 begins and a new century beckons, the wireless industry finds itself riding the wave of landmark free trade agreements that will open telecom and information technology markets and force countries to address the far-reaching implications of the Digital Age. What worldly thinkers have begun to discover is that pagers, mobile phones, satellites and other information delivery systems do more than just help people communicate. Digital devices are transforming governments, economies, societies and the individual. The United States and other countries helped lay the foundation for the new global order by aggressively pushing for free markets and democratic reforms in developing and developed nations. But the global information revolution, which has compressed distance and obliterated national borders, was in full force long before politicians got into the act. Technology, manifested in the marriage of computers and telecommunications, is the master change agent of our time and is fueling a major paradigm shift to a global economy that is knowledge based. The best that is known about the global digital transformation is that it is not well understood. “The changing perception of what constitutes an asset poses huge problems in expanding or even maintaining the power of government,” former Citicorp/Citibank Chairman Walter Wriston wrote in the September/October 1997 issue of Foreign Affairs. “Unlike land or industrial plants, information resources are not bound to geography or easily taxed and controlled by governments. Our laws and systems of measurement are becoming artifacts of another age,” Wriston observed. … Read more

Roam if you want to, roam around the world
ATLANTA-BellSouth Mobility DCS has launched international roaming with nine European Global System for Mobile communications operators enabling BellSouth’s customers to use their smart cards to roam in Belgium, England, France, Ireland, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland. BellSouth customers will be able to roam using their subscriber identity module card in a phone that operates at 900 MHz, which can be rented in advance of traveling to Europe. … Read more

Hot topic: e911
WASHINGTON-A total of 21 states have pending legislation regarding emergency service and its parameters scheduled for votes this year, according to a survey performed by wireless E911 equipment manufacturer Xypoint Corp. Respondents to the poll included wireless carriers, public-safety entities and state legislative aides nationwide. Xypoint tracks the progress of E911 legislation for wireless carriers on a weekly basis. Ten states approved such laws last year; 14 other states attempted new legislation but bills did not pass. According to Xypoint spokesman Roger Nyhus, states still without legislation “didn’t see the urgency” of E911 implementation, despite efforts by the public-safety industry to educate lawmakers. But states should pick up the pace in 1998, now that the Federal Communications Commission completed final reconsiderations of its E911 report and order that says wireless carriers must provide such services by April 1. “The FCC’s deadlines weren’t looming last year, but now they are,” Nyhus said. … Read more

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

The post #TBT: Roam if you want to; Welcome to the Digital Age; e911 ramps up … this week in 1998 appeared first on RCR Wireless News.