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#TBT: T-Mo upgrades to 3G; Holiday handsets include LG’s enV; muni Wi-Fi, MediaFLO and Fabiograms … this week in 2006

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!

Free muni Wi-Fi, courtesy of Cisco
ALBANY, N.Y.-Free Wi-Fi powered by Cisco Systems Inc. is on the loose in Albany, N.Y., as the state capital begins deploying a Wi-Fi network aimed at boosting the city’s public safety capabilities as well as its economic development. Albany’s Mayor Jerry Jennings called the deployment “an important first step in providing Internet access to everyone in our community, throughout all of the neighborhoods.” Local service provider Tech Valley Communications is managing the mesh network comprised of Cisco’s Airnet 1500 series mesh product … Read more

T-Mo tests MediaFLO
Qualcomm Inc.’s MediaFLO USA subsidiary said the industry’s No. 4 operator T-Mobile USA Inc. is trialing its mobile TV service, adding another national carrier to its list of partners even as it prepares for the initial commercial launch of service with Verizon Wireless early next year. “Our dance card is getting pretty full,” Gina Lombardi, president of MediaFLO USA told RCR Wireless News last week. Sprint Nextel Corp. also is testing MediaFLO’s streaming television service, which the carrier has branded as Vue. T-Mobile USA is the first GSM carrier to trial the service. There is also speculation T-Mobile is testing DVB-H technology for mobile TV. “We’re happy to be working with all the carriers in ensuring that their customers get the opportunity to have this service,” Lombardi said. Mobile television service is widely anticipated to be the next big thing in wireless, although relatively few subscribers use the service in its current form, which typically piggybacks on carriers’ mobile networks. Analysts have raised the question of whether customers are willing to pay for the service-and if so, how much. Once the network has its initial launch with Verizon Wireless, Lombardi said, it will be easy to add additional carriers to the service. … Read more

Prognosticating 2007
While most of us simply like to drink wine now and then, the wine media (including about a million podcasters) spends the end of the year conjecturing on the quality of this year’s vintage: how good will the wine be based on the quantity of grapes harvested, sugar level, initial reports, etc. Of course, everybody has their own opinion and, not surprisingly, most that come out of the industry are rosy. Crystal-ball gazing, however, isn’t limited to the wine world. Sports fans start talking about the World Series before opening day. Film critics anoint next year’s Oscar contenders in the spring. And, in the wireless world, we all want to know what new technologies will appear-or gain traction-in the New Year. I can’t claim to have all the answers, but in honor of ’07 here are seven predictions for what we’ll be talking about over the next 12 months — and one that’s more of a question. Mesh Fall Out–Not. Muni WiFi is an undeniably hot market. It’s also a very crowded market on the vendor side. This makes it one of those markets where everyone is just waiting for the suppliers to start dropping like flies. Well, it probably won’t be happening in 2007. Yes, you could easily count a dozen vendors chasing an uncertain opportunity. However, that uncertainty (i.e., the possibility of a huge opportunity) will encourage VCs, boards and chief strategy officers to keep R&D and sales efforts alive . at least for one more year. WiMAX Consolidation. Like muni WiFi, the WiMAX market is over-populated; think the proverbial “crazy cat lady’s house.” … Read more

Holiday phones include LG’s enV
OVERLAND PARK, Kan.-The nation’s handset vendors are kicking into high gear in time for the holiday shopping season-which started on “Black Friday,” the day after Thanksgiving-with a range of new, advanced products. Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., the world’s third-largest phone maker by volume, announced its second new phone for Sprint Nextel Corp. in as many weeks. Samsung’s new M610 features a 2-megapixel camera, Bluetooth, a removable memory card and a QVGA internal display. The phone also features a super-slim design, measuring just half an inch thick. … Separately, Sprint Nextel’s CDMA rival Verizon Wireless announced it will sell LG Electronics Co. Ltd.’s new “enV” phone, which the carrier described as “the envy of all mobile phones.” The enV is the follow-on to LG’s V, which also features a flip-open QWERTY keyboard. The new enV features a 2-megapixel camera, Bluetooth and a digital music player. … Read more

T-Mobile US upgrades to 3G
ESPOO, Finland-Nokia Corp. and L.M. Ericsson won T-Mobile USA Inc.’s third-generation network buildout business as the nation’s fourth-largest carrier sets out to offer its 22 million subscribers greater data throughput via W-CDMA technology. The companies didn’t share financial details about their contract wins, and it’s possible that additional vendors will be announced. In October, T-Mobile USA said it expected to spend about $2.6 billion over two to three years to upgrade its network to 3G, with major markets ready to serve subscribers with 3G services by mid-2007. Ericsson said it was selected for its turnkey network rollout capabilities and will serve as the “prime radio provider” for W-CDMA 3G services in certain markets, including New York City. Meanwhile, Nokia raved that T-Mobile USA will be the first U.S. operator to deploy its modular Flexi W-CDMA base stations … Read more

US Copyright Office weighs in on handset unlocking
WASHINGTON-The U.S. Copyright Office recommended that mobile-phone subscribers beginning Dec. 1 can keep their handsets to use on other wireless networks when they change cellular operators, a minimum three-year ruling with huge implications for carriers and vendors. “The underlying activity sought to be performed by the owner of the handset is to allow the handset to do what it was manufactured to do-lawfully connect to any carrier. . The purpose of the software lock appears to be limited to restricting the owner’s use of the mobile handset to support a business model, rather than to protect access to copyrighted work itself,” said Marybeth Peters, register of copyrights. However, the mobile-phone industry said carriers may well continue to prevent handsets from working on competitors’ networks. “While we are still reviewing the decision, it is clear that the order does not prevent carriers from locking handsets-it only removes a legal tool carriers have used to enjoin persons who unlock the handset without the carrier’s consent,” said Joe Farren, a spokesman for CTIA, the national cell-phone carrier association. … Read more

I Can’t Believe It’s A WAP Site (complete with Fabiograms!)
NEW YORK-Crisp Wireless said it built a WAP site for MindShare Interaction to promote Unilever’s I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter brand. The site features Fabio in the I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter “Kitchen of Love” originally developed for online audiences. The site also delivers “Fabiograms,” recipes, wallpapers, downloadable video and exclusive Fabio voice tones to mobile phones, said the company. … Read more

Comcast offers a wireless bundle via Sprint
BOSTON-Comcast Corp. launched wireless service in partnership with Sprint Nextel Corp. in two markets: Boston and Portland, Ore. Comcast’s Mobile Access service is “a new arrangement from Comcast and Sprint that will make it easier for you to access all your home and entertainment needs on your Sprint wireless phone wherever you are,” according to Comcast’s Web site. The company added that customers will be able to “watch mobile TV channels, check your e-mail and make unlimited calls from your wireless phone to your Comcast Digital Voice home phone.” The launch is the first commercial offering of services from Sprint Nextel’s joint venture with several cable companies, including Comcast and Time Warner Cable. Services from the joint venture had been expected to launch in this quarter. Comcast indicated that the service can be accessed via four handsets: the LG Electronics Co. Ltd. Fusic, and the 8400, 2400 and Katana from Sanyo Corp. … 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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