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#TBT: Marketers eye mobile; GSM on track to hit 1B users; hot handset market … this week in 2004

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!

Marketers eye mobile phones
Although mobile-phone marketing is relatively new in the United States, a new survey of more than 400 marketers reports that a majority already highly rate its potential as a marketing medium. Forty-six percent of those polled rate the viability of mobile phones for marketing purposes as “good,” “very good” or “excellent” today. In addition, 64 percent view its potential as “good” or better as a marketing medium five years from now. “Unlike Europe and Asia, which are much further along with mobile-phone marketing, the medium is really quite fledgling in this country,” said Wes Bray, CEO of Mynamics USA, which sponsored the survey. “So, this level of support and optimism is somewhat surprising when you consider the various obstacles that hinder mobile-phone marketing in the U.S. currently, such as different carrier technologies, varying price structures and underdeveloped SMS or text messaging capabilities.” Despite this optimism, Bray added, many respondents overlooked the fact that mobile-phone marketing is inherently permission-based. … Read more

GSM users on track to hit a billion
LONDON-GSM operators will count 1 billion users by the end of the first quarter 2004, according to predictions from the GSM Association. More than 180 million GSM users were added during 2003, representing 80 percent of new mobile-phone subscribers worldwide, according to the GSM Association. At the end of 2003, GSM subscribers totaled 970 million. During 2003, the Asia Pacific region added more than 70 million users, with China adding 42.8 million new users. … Read more

Handset market is hot, hot, hot
Most of the world’s top mobile-phone makers celebrated major fourth-quarter victories, with record numbers of shipments and revenues boosted by the holiday season, but those in the industry expect the real action is still yet to come. “There haven’t been a lot of surprises,” said Ben Wood, handset analyst for research and consulting firm Gartner Inc. The industry’s quarterly results “reflected the end of a good year,” said John Jackson, a wireless and mobile technology analyst for research and consulting firm Yankee Group. Although most vendors including Nokia Corp., Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications L.P. and Siemens AG reported increased handset sales in a season of high demand, the real test for the industry’s top players will come in the coming months, analysts said. Sales during the fourth quarter were so high that some handset vendors–most notably Motorola Inc.–couldn’t score enough phone components to meet customer and carrier demand. … Read more

New Jersey bans cell phone while driving
WASHINGTON-New Jersey Gov. James McGreevey (D) signed legislation banning handheld phone use while operating a motor vehicle, the second state to take phones out of drivers’ hands. “Cell phones have become inescapable,” said McGreevey, who signed the bill into law last week. “They are part of our daily lives. This ban will not threaten that. Like any other instrument that could be dangerous, cell phones must be used responsibly. Requiring drivers to keep both hands on the wheel will save lives.” New York is the only other state to impose such a prohibition, though many other states have considered doing the same. Some towns have enacted ordinances outlawing driver use of handheld phones. A number of countries have imposed restrictions on cell-phone use by drivers. Also under the New Jersey law, the placement of hands-free gear cannot interfere with the operation of federally required equipment, such as air bags. … Read more

BBC gives mobile phones to journalists
EINDHOVEN, The Netherlands-Camera phones took a further step forward in the world stage with British news firm BBC announcing plans to arm a “significant” number of its journalists with video-capable mobile phones. The BBC said reporters will be able to instantly send 15-minute video clips from the phones to the BBC studios for broadcast. Indeed, the BBC said it has already carried out a number of news broadcasts using camera-phone video, including a bulletin from a tugboat maneuvering in harbor. Royal Philips Electronics said it worked with the British Broadcasting Corp. to develop and deploy the multimedia camcorder software. The phones will use GPRS networks to transmit video clips to the Television Centre studios in London. The BBC cautioned however that the phones will not replace conventional TV video and sound methods of filming and transmission. … Read more

Senate passes spending bill
WASHINGTON-The U.S. Senate Thursday finally passed an $820 billion omnibus spending bill that included funding for the Federal Communications Commission for fiscal-year 2004, which started Oct. 1. The bill must go to President George W. Bush for his signature, but because work is well under way for the FY ’05 budget that is expected to be sent to Congress next week, the White House is expected to accept the measure. Congress cut $7 million from the FCC’s FY ’04 budget request, which means some commission priorities will have to be scaled back, said FCC Managing Director Andrew Fishel earlier this month. The legislation includes a ban on accepting money from outside groups for travel to trade shows and an alteration in the politically controversial media-ownership caps. The FCC in June voted to raise the media-ownership cap to 45 percent from 35 percent. Congress lowered this number to 39 percent. … Read more

Zigbee expected to be major smart home player
MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif.-Short-range wireless technology ZigBee will be a key player in the home automation market, according to market research firm West Technology Research Solutions L.L.C. (WTRS). Annual shipments of ZigBee chipsets could exceed 339 million units by 2008 in the home automation segment alone, the research firm estimates. “In the not-too-distant future, it will be common to find as many as 100 ZigBee chips around the house,” said Kirsten West, one of the principals of WTRS. “These will be found in light switches, fire and smoke detectors, thermostats, appliances in the kitchen, video and audio remote controls, landscaping and security systems. The same principles and models apply to networks in industrial, building automation and medical markets.” … Read more

Infrastructure impacts of AT&T Wireless + Cingular
Industry observers believe that infrastructure vendors favor a tie-up between Cingular Wireless L.L.C. and AT&T Wireless Services Inc. Both companies have deals with the same manufacturers, including L.M. Ericsson, Nokia Corp., Nortel Networks Ltd. and Siemens AG.
Nortel is proud of its role as provider of the core network for AWS because of its Internet Protocol competency. On the radio-access part, AWS’ network is dominated by Ericsson and Nokia. Regardless of which suitor AWS chooses, all scenarios lead to a Wideband-CDMA upsurge in the United States, said Andrew Seybold of The Seybold Group. A deal between Cingular and AWS would allow Cingular to gather all its TDMA customers and AWS’ TDMA customers onto one network, thus creating room for Cingular to build out its GSM networks, Seybold noted. He added this would lay the foundation for an eventual W-CDMA network, which he said is a good thing for the United States. “It will give this country competition for third generation. That’s why both (Cingular and AWS) are the best fit,” said Seybold. … Read more

WIPI vs. BREW
WASHINGTON-The Bush administration last week confirmed South Korea will delay until June a decision to mandate a government-backed wireless Internet standard benefiting domestic firms at the expense of San Diego-based Qualcomm Inc. and others, a development that comes in response to U.S. pressure and in advance of a scheduled decision in Seoul later this week on other technical rules viewed by American officials and industry as protectionist. South Korea had been set to approve its home-grown Wireless Internet Platform for Interoperability this month. In early December, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick complained by letter to South Korean Trade Minister Hwang Doo-yun about that government’s role in the development of WIPI and other wireless standards. The United States argues any wireless standard that is not technologically neutral and helps only the nation that created it violates World Trade Organization rules. As it stands, the WIPI standard effectively prevents the deployment of Qualcomm’s BREW downloading software. … Read more

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

ABOUT AUTHOR

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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