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#TBT: Faxes on your phone, calls from an airplane and other retro tech … this week in 1995

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!

Get a fax on your phone

Air Communications Inc. has unveiled an all-in-one cellular voice-data-facsimile telephone called the AirCommunicator that uses a proprietary protocol to transmit on circuit-switched analog cellular networks. “We’ve pioneered a product that works as a fully featured data communications tool-in essence, replicating the user’s desktop environment,” said Dan Seale, president and chief executive officer of Air Communications. By integrating radio frequency and modem technologies, the company is converging several popular telecommunications mediums into a new product category that it says will provide greater functionality while reducing the implementation burden for the end-user. AirCommunicator provides up to 16 minutes of voice-mail storage and up to 37 pages of fax storage, the company said. While the voice messages can be played back on the cellular earpiece, the fax messages can only be read when the device is hooked up to a laptop/notebook computer or personal digital assistant via the serial port … Read more

Make a call from an airplane (get your password first)
SEATTLE-The Aviation Communications Division of AT&T Wireless Services announced the domestic offering of new ground-to-air service on its all-digital, inflight telecommunications system. “Consumers now have the option of being reached in flight for business or personal matters,” said Randy Ottinger, vice president of marketing for the Aviation Communications Division. “This new service offers peace of mind for business travelers who can now be reached when it’s important,” he added. Passengers on commercial aircraft must register upon boarding a flight and enter a password to receive a call. The company, which operates as Claircom International in Europe, Asia and the Middle East, does not require a registration fee and the introductory per-minute fee is the same as for air-to-ground service-$2.50 for call set-up and then $2.50 per minute. “We want our customers to feel comfortable registering on board*…*customers don’t want to pay to register, on the outside chance that they may receive a call,” Ottiner said … Read more

Cellular data might be a thing, but paging will grab 21% of data subs
WASHINGTON-The number of mobile data subscribers can be expected to double by 2000 as more equipment and data networks become available, according to a new study by Economic & Management Consultants International Inc. Industry will resolve existing problems that got mobile data off to a slow start, said EMCI mobile data analyst Steve Virostek. In 1990, there were 200,000 subscribers. Today there are about 1.1 million subscribers; that number could rise to 5.2 million by 2000, generating $1.5 billion annually for the industry. Mobile data users represent less than 4 percent of all mobile communication users, although the potential market exceeds 13 million workers nationwide, EMCI said. Two-way paging operators can be expected to increase their presence in the mobile data market beginning in 1996. They could capture 21 percent of all data subscribers by 2000, EMCI said. Cellular carriers have experienced moderate success in attracting circuit-switched users. Cellular Digital Packet Data coverage and equipment options will remain limited over the short-term horizon, but once that situation changes-possibly by 1998-the number of cellular data subscribers could rise from 700,000 to 1.4 million by 2000, generating $430 million annually … Read more

Two-way paging makes its debut
True to its claim that it would launch two-way paging by mid-year, SkyTel Corp. is turning on commercial service Sept. 19 in 30 to 50 markets throughout the country. With this launch, SkyTel will be the first paging operator to commercially offer two-way paging. SkyTel is a subsidiary of Mobile Telecommunication Technologies Corp. The company plans to have its SkyTel 2-Way personal communications services available in 300 U.S. markets by year’s end … Read more

Prescience: Wireless will be “significant in ways not yet fully understood”

WASHINGTON – The structure of the wireless telecommunications industry will be in a constant state of flux for the near future due to evolving regulatory, technological and economic changes, according to a new government report. Nevertheless, according to Congress’ Office of Technology Assessment, the role of wireless technology in the National Information Infrastructure – the network of networks also called the information superhighway – is expected to be significant but in ways not yet fully understood. The OTA study, which was requested by senior House Commerce Committee member Mike Oxley, R-Ohio, and the House Science Committee, recommends that in light of this uncertainty federal government intervention should be limited to three broad functions: Monitor the growth of the industry and competition, and identify any potential market failures or social concerns that arise. Continue to pursue policies that promote open access to all networks, including goal-setting and encouraging industry standardization efforts. Promote development of new technologies, including ensuring the availability of adequate spectrum for existing and emerging wireless technologies … Read more

Wireless can be a “short term substitute” for wireline in developing AsiaPac (lol)
NEW YORK-The Asia-Pacific cellular market is expected to hold 30 million subscribers by 1998, according to a new market research study from Northern Business Information. Cellular service market analyses and forecasts for Australia, China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand are included in NBI’s report entitled, “Asia-Pacific Cellular Markets.” The study said that 23 percent of today’s cellular subscribers worldwide come from the Asia-Pacific market and at the end of 1994 there were 10.7 million subscribers in that area. Meera Singh, a senior analyst specializing in Asia-Pacific telecommunications at NBI, noted the market area is ready to convert to digital. Singh also said that in countries where wireline service is not available wireless can provide a simple substitute for the short term … Read more

Debating spectrum clearing at 2 GHz

For more than 30 years, microwave communications systems have been used by utilities, oil and gas pipeline companies, railroads and municipalities to provide basic services to the American public including energy and transportation services, heating, air conditioning, power and fuel. Even public-safety agencies rely on microwave communications to provide police, fire, ambulance and other public-safety services. In a very real sense, the continued safety and reliability of our country’s infrastructure depends on microwave systems licensed by the Federal Communications Commission. Many of them operate in the 2 GHz Band. Any displacement of these systems from the 2 GHz band will be extremely disruptive, and it will be costly. Nevertheless, the FCC has decided that this band must be “cleared.” Following three years of notices, comments, reply comments, reports, orders, ex parte visits, congressional input and the like, the commission determined to relocate microwave systems from the 2 GHz band to accommodate a new, emerging technology: personal communication services. In other words, PCS licensees would be permitted to move into this band (i.e., deploy PCS at 2 GHz); and microwave licensees would be required to move out (i.e., vacate the 2 GHz band). Because the displaced microwave systems support the basic infrastructure of our country, however, the commission cushioned the blow by creating a graduated, phased-in relocation process … Read more

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


Kelly Hill
Kelly Hill
Kelly reports on network test and measurement, as well as the use of big data and analytics. She first covered the wireless industry for RCR Wireless News in 2005, focusing on carriers and mobile virtual network operators, then took a few years’ hiatus and returned to RCR Wireless News to write about heterogeneous networks and network infrastructure. Kelly is an Ohio native with a masters degree in journalism from the University of California, Berkeley, where she focused on science writing and multimedia. She has written for the San Francisco Chronicle, The Oregonian and The Canton Repository. Follow her on Twitter: @khillrcr

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