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BELLSOUTH TESTS NEW TECHNOLOGY FOR WIRELESS TRACKING CAPABILITY

BellSouth Wireless Inc. unveiled a new cellular technology application called Cellemetry, which makes it possible to send short data messages over existing cellular networks.

Currently undergoing system trials, applications for the patent-pending technology include remote utility meter reading, alarm, copier and vending machine monitoring and other telemetry services, BellSouth said.

The new method of transmitting monitored data is efficient because it exploits existing capacity on an analog network control channel, currently used to register roaming mobile phones, according to the company. “When a cellular customer roams today, his phone sends a very short registration message-including a mobile identification number and electronic serial number-over the control channel to the nearest cellular switch,” BellSouth said. Employing that same control channel, Cellemetry automatically substitutes a specified type of telemetry service for the registration message.

BellSouth claims Cellemetry also is cost-effective. “You don’t need additional intelligence in the cell sites,” noted Peter Roach, director of Network Access Strategies for BellSouth Wireless and a key player in Cellemetry’s development. According to BellSouth spokesman Kevin Doyle, Cellemetry is activated by creating a network gateway and installing radios in the equipment to be monitored. The radio devices automatically report status information at a predetermined time or can be activated remotely anytime a reading is needed.

Cellemetry testing is underway in Indianapolis, a key BellSouth market, in cooperation with PSI Energy, the power supplier for outlying areas of the city. PSI is evaluating Cellemetry as a remote meter reading technology. Trials began July 7 and are scheduled to run about 6 weeks.

Determining Cellemetry’s user cost is one focus of the trial, noted Anne Malin, project manager for BellSouth Cellular.

The company said it is certain of Cellemetry’s success. “Interest in wireless data networking has triggered tremendous pent-up demand for a whole new range of services,” remarked Stan Hamm, BellSouth’s mobile systems group president. “Cellemetry fills that niche very cost-effectively.”

The Cellemetry radio modems being used in the trial were developed by Standard Communications Corp., a subsidiary of Philips Electronics. The system’s software runs on the Omni intelligent network platform from DGM&S Inc. of Mount Laurel, N.J.

BellSouth plans to market Cellemetry to other carriers as well, Doyle noted, and discussions are currently underway. He expects the technology will be deployed starting early next year in BellSouth markets nationwide.

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