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#TBT: Local number portability battles; small tower owners thrive … 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!


Local number portability kicks off in the U.K. …

NEW YORK-The United Kingdom started off 1999 with a bang, becoming the first country to
implement local number portability for wireless telephony customers. All four cellular operators-Orange plc, Vodafone Group plc, Cellnet and One 2 One-had agreed to license amendments in the fall of 1997 requiring them to provide number portability starting Jan 1, 1999.“This will encourage much more intense competition in the mobile market as the four companies fight to win and retain customers. In the end, the winner will be the customer,” said David Edmonds, U.K. Director General of Telecommunications. Scarcity of available spectrum has limited new carrier entrants into the mobile telephony marketplace in the United Kingdom, so removal of as many other barriers to competition as possible is important, said Richard Bayliss, an analyst for Tarifica UK. Customer surveys conducted by the U.K. Office of Telecommunications, known as Oftel, indicated business users consider the necessity of changing phone numbers the biggest impediment to changing wireless service providers. According to the surveys, some 96 percent of corporate subscribers would be willing to switch carriers once number portability is available. … Read more

… while carriers fight it in the U.S.
WASHINGTON-A wireless industry appeal of the Federal Communications Commission’s rules on
local number portability, which become effective on March 31, 2000, has been postponed until at least
May. Portability refers to a customer’s ability to change carriers without having to change telephone numbers. The FCC consistently has said number portability is necessary for competition to develop. The Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association and other wireless players argue wireless number portability is not necessary because the wireless industry already is competitive. The delay gives the FCC time to rule on a CTIA request not to enforce the wireless number portability rules for at least five years. The FCC said it would make a decision on the matter by March 16. Indeed, CTIA’s petition asks the FCC not to enforce for five years wireless number portability rules when they become effective on March 31, 2000. After the five years, the FCC should use the amount of competition in the wireless industry as the determining factor as to the need for wireless number portability, CTIA said in its forbearance petition filed on Dec. 16, 1997. Bell Atlantic Mobile has led the industry in a legal effort, currently in the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver, to overturn the wireless number portability rules. … Read more

Intellectual property standoff gums up 3G work

The International Telecommunication Union said it may look for a way to work around the
intellectual-property-right stalemate caused by Qualcomm Inc. and L.M. Ericsson over third-generation
technology. Fabio Leite, counselor in the Radiocommunications Bureau of Geneva-based ITU, said for now Code Division Multiple Access proposals that have unresolved IPR issues attached are dropped from the standards process. At the same time, ITU is working out a way to proceed without disrupting time frames it has set to decide on 3G technology. “Our main worry is that we don’t want to affect the aggressive schedule we have for this year,” said Leite. “The next deadline is March of this year. At a meeting in Brazil, a selection of technology will have to be taken … We want to give free hands to technical experts in such a way that they can at least do the technical work without being affected by IPR. We still don’t know how this can be done. We’re going to consult with [Qualcomm and Ericsson].” ITU, the international standards-setting body, issued a warning last month that it may only be able to consider proposals for third-generation technologies based on Time Division Multiple Access technology if the disputes surrounding IPR of CDMA proposals were not resolved by the end of the year. … Read more

Hello, CDMA Moto (and a pager!)
LAS VEGAS-Motorola Inc. announced plans to commercially introduce the SC3160 phone, a
new entry-level Code Division Multiple Access wireless phone at the Consumer Electronics Show here last week.
Commercial availability in the Americas for the SC3160 is slated for the first quarter, said Motorola. Motorola also introduced several new paging products at CES, including an upgraded version of its two-way pager, called the PageWriter 2000X. The new pager has three times the memory capacity of the previous model, up to 3.25 megabytes, so it can hold a much larger number of contact list entries and various software applications. According to Amy Kabcenell, market development and training manager for Motorola’s North American Paging Subscriber division, the company is hoping to attract more third-party developers to write applications for the new device, and believes this added memory capacity will aid in that effort. … Read more

Small tower owners snub selling
Despite massive consolidation among players in the tower industry, many small tower owners said
they are not interested in selling their sites, according to a survey conducted by Fryer’s Information Services. About
half of the survey respondents indicated they would not consider selling, and the majority of those said they planned to construct new towers in the future, according to the survey. Survey results and analysis will be included in the 90-
page Fryer’s Market Report, which is available this month for $695. The report is based on data and surveys sent to
more than 7,000 tower owners nationwide and includes a list of deals done during the past three years, a list of the top 100 tower owner/managers, case studies of large and small owners, market trends, analysis of average construction
costs and single tower economics. “In general, a lot of smaller tower owners said they are staying in because it
is too good of a business, and they don’t need the cash,” said Jim Fryer, president of Fryer’s Information
Services. … Read more

Talk about your alternative energy
LOS ALAMOS, N.M.-Manhattan Scientifics Inc. said Robert G. Hockaday, a chief fuel-cell
scientist with the company, successfully made a cellular phone call using a phone powered by an alcohol-fueled pre-prototype micro fuel cell. A 50-percent methanol water mixture commonly used as windshield washer fluid fueled the cell. “We have achieved the minimum of 100 milliwatts of power out-put necessary to keep a phone in standby mode and simultaneously trickle charge a battery with our pre-prototype system,” said Hockaday. … 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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