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#TBT: Wireless industry eyes the internet and vice versa … this week in 1999

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!

In the days of WAP, Amazon starts to look at mobile shopping
The convergence of the Internet and wireless networks was punctuated last week as Internet heavy hitters Amazon.com Inc., America Online Inc. and Oracle Corp. made announcements extending their services further into the wireless realm. Perhaps the strongest statement made was Amazon.com’s aggressive entry to the wireless space through its Amazon.com Anywhere wireless initiative. “We believe wireless devices, specifically with the emergence of new data standards, are going to be a big area where people can access our services,” said Nayeem Islam, director of information technology at Amazon.com. To facilitate this goal, Amazon.com bought Convergence Corp. for $20 million in stock. Convergence develops software solutions for wireless devices to access Internet content. “The wireless space has some major challenges,” Islam said. “We needed the talent in-house to go after it.” Besides gaining access to Convergence’s technology, Amazon.com will have Convergence personnel lead its wireless strategy. Amazon.com displayed further commitment to the wireless space by joining the WAP*Forum, the first retailer to do so … Read more

Sunny visions of the future (and an “I-phone” before the iPhone)
NEW YORK-Wireless devices and the services they deliver in the Internet age represent an opportunity so large it is nearly unfathomable and dwarfs any second-place possibilities, according to Bill Joy, chief scientist of Sun Microsystems Inc. Nevertheless, the United States, which pioneered the Internet, enters this golden age of telecommunications with one hand tied behind its back, Sun’s co-founder said at Pricewaterhouse Cooper’s “1999 Global Convergence Summit.” “The United States used for [personal communications services]half of its frequency band available for the next worldwide standard,” Joy said. “We are ahead in the wired Internet, but we have structural handicaps in wireless Internet.” By contrast, Japan erred when it chose a unique early-generation technology that no other country wants. However, it has plenty of radio-frequency spectrum available for third and successive generations of wireless. Furthermore, about six months ago, Japan introduced “I-phone,” which allows callers one-button access to the Internet, Joy said. Within a decade, the annual wireless device market will be up to 3 billion units sold, not only for communications among people but also to run appliances and other machinery, he predicted. “Basically, people will get a new phone every time the battery goes dead,” Joy said … Read more

Ivan Seidenburg looks forward to the “fun” of a dot-com world
NEW YORK-“We’ve done the really easy stuff, and now the fun begins,” Ivan Seidenberg, chairman and chief executive officer of Bell Atlantic Corp., said in a keynote address Oct. 7 at Fall Internet World ’99. The Internet has evolved rapidly from its genesis as a provider of static information to today’s offerings of transactional capabilities.“Today, 30 percent of Americans have a mobile phone. What will it mean when more than 70 percent have one within the next few years?” he said. “Today, 65 percent of American teenagers are online, and they expect everything online … Only 3 percent of the world population has logged onto the Internet today. What will it mean when that number grows to 25 percent within a few years?” Electronic commerce by consumers has grabbed everyone’s attention, and it is a significant and growing piece of the transactional aspects of the Internet. However, within several years the consumer piece of this growing pie will be just one-third the size of business-to-business e-commerce, which Forrester Research projects will have become a $1.3 trillion worldwide sector by 2003. “The Internet will morph into a complete rethinking of corporate structures as companies integrate supply chains, flatten hierarchies and transfer knowledge throughout their organizations,” Seidenberg said … Read more

Flat-rate plans + high roaming costs = rural carrier acquisitions
Rural cellular operators are reaping generous roaming revenues from nationwide operators. As such, larger players have become willing to pay top dollar to acquire these companies and eliminate the high roaming fees they pay to them. AT&T Corp. and rural cellular operator Dobson Communications Corp., through a newly created joint venture, have agreed to acquire American Cellular Corp. for $2.32 billion, 14 times American Cellular’s 1999 cash flow, note analysts. “Some might argue that there’s been a paradigm shift in the industry over the last few months,” said Dobson Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Everett Dobson in a conference call with analysts. “Clearly the values are up, clearly minutes of use have skyrocketed throughout the industry and particularly in the rural cellular part of the industry. I might argue that we thought the paradigm shift was happening a few years ago, and maybe the equity values are just now catching up.” For example, said Dobson, American Cellular is seeing 48 percent year-over-year growth in roaming. His own company is seeing nearly 80 percent growth in some markets. American Cellular’s average revenue per user through June was $57; $25 of that figure is attributed to roaming revenue. Virtually all rural operators are benefiting considerably from nationwide calling plans large carriers like AT&T Wireless and Sprint PCS are offering. One-rate plans are leading customers to use their phones in rural areas where they wouldn’t have before … Read more

Toot-toot, it’s the merger train
WASHINGTON-The merger train rolled through the Federal Communications Commission last week as the FCC reacted to a number of telecommunications industry-changing mergers. The FCC does not officially review mergers but has to review the transfer of licenses, considered to be a key part of any merger. The commission approved with conditions the transfer of Ameritech Corp.’s licenses to SBC Communications Inc., but FCC Chairman William Kennard strongly questioned whether a proposed merger between MCI WorldCom Inc. and Sprint Corp. would benefit consumers. The chairman also announced the agency’s general counsel will lead a merger review team to be in place before Jan. 3 … Read more

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

ABOUT AUTHOR

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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