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!

The glorious future, where people can use their PDAs to access their desktops
NEW YORK–Envision this scenario-for the price of a local phone call, mobile workers use personal digital assistants run by off-the-shelf software to routinely access their own computers wirelessly via the Internet, turning their PDAs into virtual offices. The potential domestic market for such services is large and growing, according to Christopher Calisi, vice president of Symantec, a Cupertino, Calif., software developer. According to some projections, the ranks of “remote” workers in this country-many of them mobile sales and service employees-will more than double to 50 million by 2000 compared with 20 million today, Calisi noted. That means a third of the domestic work force will be remote employees by the turn of the century. PDAs have been winning a popularity contest against laptop computers, Calisi said at the recent Internet World ’96 Show. Even so, the proprietary software systems that run them have proven complicated to end-users and therefore a stumbling block to wider consumer acceptance. … Read more

Sprint’s early surge
WASHINGTON-Sprint Spectrum L.P., which began offering personal communications service in Washington a year ago through partner American Personal Communications, has converted its marketing from a big-bang effort to one resembling a continuous rumble. During the last 13 months, the carrier has attracted more than 100,000 subscribers (July 1996 figures); has nearly doubled its cell sites (from 264 to 414); and has won a first-place J.D. Power and Associates award for customer service, call quality and price seven months into its existence. Mirroring its initial plunge into the marketplace during last year’s holiday season, Sprint Spectrum this year has been running major print ads in cooperation with its retail partners and has offered a $99 phone. Retail outlets handling the Sprint Spectrum phones and service have doubled since last year-to 400-cutting an even larger customer-recognition swathe this season. With increased training and advertising provided by Sprint Spectrum, and word-of-mouth testimonials provided by friends and relatives who are subscribers, retail workers are having an even easier time this year promoting the shrink-wrapped phones in a box. … Read more

Testing e911
BOULDER, Colo.-SCC Communications Corp. announced the successful demonstration of wireless 911 with location information in response to the Federal Communications Commission’s Phase II mandate regarding 911 services. Cellular calls were placed from a 15-square mile area along a highway in Harris County, Texas, to dispatchers at local public safety answering points (PSAPs). SCC’s system provided geographic data with a 10-digit automatic number identification of cellular calls based on X and Y coordinates of a caller’s location. The demonstration was staged by the Wireless Integration Project, a team of government organizations and vendors. … Read more

CDMA by any other name
LOS ANGELES-The CDMA Development Group has said it wants to create a single name for the Code Division Multiple Access family of products. Wireless local loop, cellular and personal communications services are based on the same specification, said Perry LaForge, executive director of the CDG. “There’s an enormous scale for CDMA but many don’t realize it’s all the same specification … We would have something that describes the technology.” The name will not conflict with individual service brands, but could be used in conjunction with carriers’ brand names, said LaForge. The CDG is expected to select a name before next May when the group holds its next World Congress. Whether carriers would use the CDMA name as part of their product branding is speculative. Using technology to market service has been an ongoing debate among carriers and wireless analysts. Many say customers don’t care about technology, only the service features that are offered. But at a time when technologies are in the development stage, carriers may be able to draw on the benefits of having a technology that is working better than others, such as CDMA, said Ira Brodsky, an analyst at DataComm Research Co. in Chicago. … Read more

Downfall of MobileMedia
Financial catastrophe has MobileMedia Corp. in the news almost daily with talk of corruption, stockholder lawsuits and bankruptcy. But the company now faces heightened pressure from competitor Paging Network Inc., which aims to expose MobileMedia’s violations of Federal Communications Commission rules. PageNet petitioned the FCC to disclose and open for public comment MobileMedia’s rule violations, based on the premise that the violations-if deliberate-place PageNet and other paging carriers at a competitive disadvantage. MobileMedia issued a prompt reply to PageNet’s request, asking the FCC to deny the petition. In its opposition statement, prepared by counsel Latham & Watkins, Washington, D.C., MobileMedia says information submitted to the FCC about its violations is confidential, and PageNet’s petition is “little more than a transparent attempt to prolong and publicize a competitor’s regulatory problems.” The FCC has not addressed the petition publicly. In September, MobileMedia announced it discovered that, under prior management, the construction status of between 400 and 500 local paging stations were falsely reported. For about half of these stations the Form 489s, which indicate a station is built, were filed late. For the other half, the Form 489s were filed prior to completion of the stations, said MobileMedia’s Laura Wilker. First news of the FCC violations came concurrent with MobileMedia’s public disclosure of financial and operational troubles stemming from the unification of MobileMedia’s and MobileComm’s operations. MobileMedia said it commenced an internal investigation of the filing errors and the findings were handed to the FCC. … Read more

Ericsson bolsters its footprint in NTT DoCoMo’s network
STOCKHOLM, Sweden-With the delivery of 3,000 base stations to Japanese cellular operator NTT DoCoMo, L.M. Ericsson’s base stations support more than 2 million subscribers in Japan. NTT DoCoMo has more than 6 million subscribers in its Personal Digital Cellular network. … Read more

Wall Street questions the future of paging, cellular
WASHINGTON-The cellular and paging industries experienced similar declines in revenue per subscriber and operating expenses this year. But despite jitters on Wall Street, the operating performance of most wireless companies remains strong, said Economic Management Consultant International Inc. in its report, “Financial Benchmarks in the Cellular and Paging Industries.” EMCI concluded the cellular industry experienced “steadily declining revenues per subscriber as new low-use subscribers were attracted to the service.” In addition, it said cellular will face increasing pressure on revenues per subscriber as personal communications services networks come online. However, falling operating expenses exceeded falling revenues, EMCI said. It cost only $8 for service per subscriber in 1996, compared with $11 per month in 1993. The paging industry experienced falling stocks, EMCI said, causing concerns about paging’s role in the future of wireless communications. … Read more

Moving into a digital network world
The end of the Cold War six years ago signaled the end of defense as a driver of technology creation. Engineers have since sought ways to apply defense designs to commercial services. “There’s a lot of novelty going on around wireless base stations,” said Dr. Oliver Hilsenrath, former vice president of technology for Geotek Communications Inc. “We’ve seen a lot of innovations in the last 10 years, but radio is really as antiquated as it was 30 to 50 years ago,” Hilsenrath said. As the Cold War ended, Hilsenrath was chief engineer of the communications division of Rafael, the military research arm of Israel. Rafael also is a Geotek partner. Hilsenrath entered the ground floor of Geotek in New Jersey after leaving Rafael in the early 1990s. At the time, Geotek was small and challenged with building abstract concepts into a commercial business. Now that Geotek has evolved from a developing company to a system operator with hundreds of employees, Hilsenrath has moved on again, back to the development end of things. He has created a private technology company, U.S. Wireless Corp. in San Ramon, Calif. The company is designing products that take advantage of core technologies developed by the defense industry. U.S. Wireless’ first product is the FlyBeam, an infrastructure device that interfaces with existing base station hardware. The company says the FlyBeam adds functionality to cellular base stations and increases capacity beyond current saturation levels. “Electromagnetic energy is analog, but we manage it digitally. [The FlyBeam] is a digital front-end to an analog world,” Hilsenrath said. … Read more

IBM intros a wireless sales terminal
WHITE PLAINS, N.Y.-International Business Machines Corp. introduced a handheld wireless system for retailers to use as a portable or docked point-of-sale workstation, as an inventory management device and a connection to networks including the Internet. The IBM 4612 Sure Point Mobile Computer is a pen-based system that allows retail employees access to information anywhere in the store. IBM said the system also can act as a sales assistant, providing information such as inventory status, product details, escorted shopping, suggested selling, special orders, delivery scheduling, stock inquiries, gift registry and clienteling. “We have taken the function and the power of a desktop computer and packed it into a small, rugged, hand-held terminal, designed to support the evolving needs of retailers,” said Ron O’Connor, vice president of retail and distribution solutions, IBM Distribution Industry. … Read more

Paging Network says it’s going strong
DALLAS-Paging Network Inc. said it expects to have 9 million pagers in service at the end of this year, 34 percent more than last year. “Our 1996 results have been very strong,” said Glenn W. Marschel, president and chief executive officer of the company. … Read more

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

The post #TBT: The glorious PDA future; Sprint’s early surge; CDMA by any other name … this week in 1996 appeared first on RCR Wireless News.