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Top Wireless Stories for 2008

Editor’s note: The following are excerpts of the 20 stories highlighting the biggest events in the wireless industry in 2008 in chronological order as chosen by the RCR Wireless News editorial staff.
Short codes, text messages under scrutiny
Jan. 21
The Federal Communications Commission launched a rulemaking to determine whether mobile text messages and short codes are covered by non-discrimination provisions of the telecom act. Click here for full story.
Massive losses force Sprint Nextel to slash jobs, stores
Jan. 21
Sprint Nextel Corp. is continuing its battle to right a listing ship. The nation’s No. 3 carrier announced it would cut 4,000 jobs and close 8% of its stores after losing 683,000 postpaid subscribers and 202,000 prepaid users during the fourth quarter of last year. Click here for full story.
Sun sets on analog requirements, carriers can begin shutting down antiquated networks
Feb. 18
Carriers nationwide can now legally bid adieu to the legacy analog networks that the Federal Communications Commission required them to keep online through Feb. 18.
AT&T Mobility and Verizon Wireless will be shutting down their analog networks this week, while Alltel Corp. is taking a phased approach to the shutdown that will be complete by the end of September. Click here for full story.
FCC chief Martin asked to produce extensive documents in probe
March 17
The House Commerce Committee’s probe of the Federal Communications Commission moved to a new level, with key lawmakers asking FCC Chairman Kevin Martin to produce extensive documentation on a wide array of agency activities that appear to impact some wireless policy-making. Click here for full story.
Samsung sees slower growth in U.S. volume this year
March 24
Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. appears to be upping the ante in the U.S. cellphone market, where it is No. 2 – some distance behind Motorola Inc. and trailed closely by LG Electronics Co. Click here for full story.

700 MHz auction ends
March 24
Verizon Wireless and AT&T Mobility ran the table at the 700 MHz auction, accounting for most of the record $19.6 billion in bidding that broke historic ground on open access, lost ground on public safety and gave dozens of mostly white-male-owned small businesses a chance to bring a wireless third-pipe into broadband markets dominated by telephone and cable TV giants. Click here for full story.
700 MHz to be LTE heavy
April 7
The nation’s top two carriers plan to deploy Long Term Evolution network technology over their recent spectrum winnings. However, Verizon Wireless executives said an LTE rollout won’t happen until 2010 at the earliest, while those from AT&T Mobility pegged a rollout date as far back as 2013. Click here for full story.

Cyren Call: Don’t blame us for Frontline’s demise
April 7
Cyren Call Communications Corp. said it never demanded long-term payments as a condition for a winning bidder of the 700 MHz national commercial/public-safety license, breaking its silence in response to news reports and blog postings that strongly suggested that it caused the demise of one-time D-Block aspirant Frontline Wireless L.L.C. Click here for full story.

Zander era over, Moto names new chairman
April 14
Motorola Inc. made two major moves last week to put its house in order as it works to revive its flagging mobile device business.
First, the company and investor Carl Icahn agreed to seat one of Icahn’s allies on the 13-member board and place that person and another Icahn ally on the board’s recommended slate of candidates for shareholder approval at the annual shareholders’ meeting scheduled for May 5. Click here for full story.

Sprint Nextel, Clearwire re-merge WiMAX business, bring new investments to operations
May 12
What’s that saying? Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me?
After their previous union was aborted last year, Sprint Nextel Corp. and Clearwire Corp. decided last week to try to merge their WiMAX businesses again, this time under the Clearwire brand and with the handy help of billions of dollars in investments from some well-heeled players. Click here for full story.

VZW to acquire Alltel
June 9
Verizon Wireless’s purchase of Alltel Communication L.L.C. is leaving many gasping for breath. The $28.1 billion purchase of the nation’s fifth-largest U.S. mobile operator seems to make sense for Verizon Wireless, both strategically and financially. However, for the private-equity investors who purchased Alltel less than a year ago, the payoff isn’t as sweet. TPG Capital and GS Capital Partners purchased Alltel for $27.5 billion last November. Verizon Wireless has become some what of the Goldilocks in this ongoing purchase of Alltel. Verizon Wireless has wanted to purchase the carrier for sometime, saying no the first time and no the second time (the same time that TBG and GS did go through with the purchase). But the third time, the price was juuusst right. Click here for full story.

3G iPhone pricing set to impact all carriers
June 16
While Apple Inc.’s 3G iPhone includes a number of new technologies to excite tech-savvy phone users, it’s the device’s price and enterprise focus that could stand as the greatest boon to AT&T Mobility, the exclusive U.S. carrier for the device. But frankly, that is old news. The new buzz is hovering around the defense other carriers will likely shell out. Click here for full story.

Virgin-Helio targets broader base of users
June 30
Virgin Mobile USA’s purchase of fellow MVNO Helio L.L.C. allows Virgin to evolve beyond its low-ARPU customers to higher-paying subscribers, as well as gain a sophisticated handset portfolio, improve its debt levels and cut a better deal with network operator Sprint Nextel Inc. Click here for full story.

Nokia, Qcom both claim vindication in IPR settlement
July 28
With a largely confidential settlement signed, sealed and delivered by Nokia Corp. and Qualcomm Inc. last week, arguably the most significant stand-off in the wireless industry has been resolved. But when two of the most influential competitors in the business snuggle up for a campfire sing-along – a scenario
far from guaranteed, as further talks focus on future collaboration – other rivals have reason to take stock of the implications. Click here for full story.
Sanjay Jha’s sense of urgency
Aug. 18
The initial question on many minds when news broke last week that Sanjay Jha, COO at Qualcomm Inc., would help lead Motorola Inc. out of the woods: Why swap celebrated success for plying the trackless wilderness?
Last week, Jha himself essentially cited the challenge and paid homage to Motorola’s reputation for engineering prowess. Click here for full story.

Obama tech policy team borrows from Clinton years
Sept. 1
While Sens. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) have broadly outlined technology policy directions each would pursue as the next president of the United States, the brain trust of advisers assembled by the Obama campaign suggests a possible return of the kind of high-level, active engagement on telecom, high-tech and media issues witnessed when a Democrat last occupied the White House during the Clinton-Gore administration in the 1990s. Click here for full story.

Text messaging suits ratchet up, five lawsuits filed in a matter of days after senator’s comments
Sept. 22
It’s official. The plaintiffs’ bar smells blood.
The mobile-phone industry suddenly finds itself under siege over rising text messaging prices; there are now five different class-action antitrust lawsuits against the nation’s largest wireless carriers over the issue. Click here for full story.

T-Mobile USA lands G1, Android-powered device
Sept. 29
Well they did it. T-Mobile USA Inc. and Google Inc. showed their baby, the G1, to the world last week during a press conference in New York. The device will be the first to feature Google’s Android platform and joins a growing list of competitors to Apple Inc.’s iPhone. Click here for full story.

AT&T Mobility rides iPhone-fueled growth
Oct. 27
AT&T Mobility posted a company record 2 million net customer additions during the third quarter, fueled by strong sales of Apple Inc.’s 3G iPhone, but that growth also took a bite out of the carrier’s bottom line. Click here for full story.

Qualcomm ditches UMB for LTE
Nov. 17
Qualcomm Inc. publicly said that it was giving up on developing its Ultra Mobile Broadband evolution for CDMA, leaving the technology’s upgrade path up in the air.
During an analyst meeting last week, the company said it was ending research and development for UMB – also known as CDMA2000 1x EV-DO Revision C – to focus on the Long Term Evolution standard. Click here for full story.

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