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#TBT: When ‘connected car’ meant ‘hands-free calling’; APAC sees 70% subscriber growth; Testing e911 … this week in 1997

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!

Why don’t cars come with phone-holders?
“Why does Detroit not design these cars with phone holders, just like cup holders?” asked Federal Communications Commission Chairman Reed Hundt when he called National Public Radio’s popular Car Talk program a few weeks ago. “People bring all kinds of things into cars, but they can be boiled down to the following: Starbucks coffee, hamburgers and cellular phones,” he said. “But why are there not phone holders in these cars where you can bring your cellular phone right in, and pop it right into the automobile and it’ll be charged up and you’ll be able to deal with it in the hands-free way so that you will be able to focus on driving?” Hundt asked. Until recently, hands-free solutions for portable phones have only been available on an after-market basis in the form of kits users could install themselves. The auto industry was reluctant to commit to a standard hands-free design for embedding in the car interior at the factory and they were frustrated with trying to accommodate the myriad portable cellular phone models in use. But as cellular and personal communications services penetrate the mass market and several countries mandate the use of hands-free kits for safety, two of the largest suppliers of automotive interiors-Prince Automotive and Lear Corp.-have embraced wireless by licensing an embedded car kit design from CellPort Labs Inc. … Read more

Building a national GSM spectrum footprint
WASHINGTON-Global System for Mobile communications technology now has a national footprint in the United States, according to analysis by GSM North America following the D-, E-and F-block auctions. GSM North America said GSM coverage will total more than 260 million people or 98 percent of the U.S. population. “Our estimate is based on the confirmed and projected preferences of new (personal communications services) license winners,” said Lyndon Daniels, chairman of GSM North America and president and chief executive officer of Pacific Bell Mobile Services. … Read more

Bell Atlantic Nynex launches CDMA markets
BEDMINSTER, N.J.-Bell Atlantic Nynex Mobile launched its DigitalChoice cellular phone service in Washington/Baltimore, Pittsburgh and Charlotte, N.C. DigitalChoice uses 13-kilobit Code Division Multiple Access technology. The DigitalChoice service includes caller ID, voice mail with message indicator, free first minute on incoming calls, TalkDial, call waiting, call forwarding, three-way calling and increased battery life. Customers may opt for text messaging for $13 a month or operator assisted text messaging for $25 a month. Bell Atlantic Nynex said there is no activation fee for DigitalChoice, and customers may sign up for monthly or one-year subscriptions. The company is selling handheld Qualcomm Inc. phones in the three markets starting at $200. The phone is equipped with authentication technology to prevent cloning. … Read more

PCS 2000 gets its licenses — and a fine
WASHINGTON-On the day before the first anniversary of the bidding error that plunged C-block personal communications services applicant PCS 2000 L.P. into the lion’s den of licensing problems, the Federal Communications Commission finally granted the partnership its 15 markets Jan. 22, conditioned on a $1 million fine for “misrepresentation and lack of candor,” which was addressed in a separate action. PCS 2000, whose general partner SuperTel Communications Corp. is located in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico, had been under investigation by the commission this past year for several alleged transgressions, including bidding errors for which fines already have been assessed and for making major changes in management without the FCC’s approval, which the commission addressed in its decision. There also have been questions regarding the makeup of the current and former general partners and of their suitability to be licensees. According to the memorandum opinion and order issued by the full commission, both of the petitions to deny filed against the company were dismissed; and all blame for a bidding-error cover up that began Jan. 23, 1996, was put on former partnership director and chief executive officer Anthony Easton, whose wife, Susan, had filed one of the petitions to deny. The accompanying document, a notice of apparent liability for forfeiture, detailed the chain of events following PCS 2000’s Round 11 bidding error on the Norfolk, Va., market. … Read more

Itron installs 1 millionth automatic meter
SPOKANE, Wash.-Itron Inc. said Public Service Company of Colorado installed its one millionth Itron automatic meter reading module in the Denver area. Public Service Co. contracted with Itron in August 1994 for 347,000 modules, and it extended the agreement to 1 million in October 1995. Itron said the Denver system is the largest AMR installation in the world, and when it is completed in 1998, it will automate 97 percent of the electric and gas meters in Denver. … Read more

APAC sees 70% cellular growth
CAMBRIDGE, Mass.-The Asia/Pacific region has experienced cellular subscriber growth rates of around 70 percent, according to a report compiled by Pyramid Research Inc. “Growth rates have been pushed up by extremely fast subscriber uptake in a few countries,” said Alexandra Rehak, director of Asia/Pacific research. “For example, China, has attracted the world’s attention with its spectacular growth. Subscribership jumped from 48,000 subscribers at the end of 1991 to 3.74 million at the end of 1995, making it the world’s fourth largest cellular market.” In its report, “Cellular & PCS Markets in Asia/Pacific,” Pyramid said Southeast Asia has become the world’s testing ground for personal communications services networks, which are being introduced to the region to increase the capacity of existing networks. In a separate announcement, the firm also noted Latin America is experiencing explosive growth. The region had fewer than 150,000 cellular subscribers in 1990, and Pyramid predicts it will have more than 21 million subscribers by 2000. Pyramid said the region has experienced subscriber growth levels of around 100 percent. … Read more

Testing e911 location in New Jersey
CLAYTON, N.J.-With a gaggle of journalists and public officials present, the first user trial of an automatic location system for analog cellular 911 calls began with a flourish Jan. 22 at the Gloucester County Public Safety headquarters. “This demonstrates so much about the country’s policy with respect to the airwaves,” said Reed Hundt, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. “As we auction the airwaves, we create opportunities for public benefit at the same time as they (the airwaves) are used for commercial purposes.” Thomas E. Wheeler, president of the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association applauded the trial as a major advance in a significant public-private partnership. “Today we celebrate (both) a movement to the next plateau of wireless communications improving the security of Americans (as well as) the way the FCC codified the voluntary agreement between the wireless industry and 911 providers.” Even if the trial proves technologically successful, Wheeler cautioned that many other milestones must be passed before wireless 911 automatic caller location can be deployed statewide in New Jersey and nationwide by the Oct. 1, 2000 federal deadline. “Without diminishing the terrific technological accomplishment, harnessing the laws of physics is the easiest part,” he said. “We must also overcome inertia and politics. We need standardized rules, procedures and funding sources.” … Read more

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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