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#TBT: Walled gardens have got to go; Top 10 carriers of ’08; Muni Wi-Fi providers struggle … this week in 2008

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!

For mobile content to grow, the walled garden has got to go

Yankee Group has recently received responses from a joint survey with RCR Wireless News in the spring of 2008. With a sample size of 457, people were asked eight questions about the drivers of mobile content adoption, the payment instruments necessary to fuel future growth, the differences between on-deck and off-deck and the overall market drivers through 2010. The short answer is, you’re bullish about the industry. Twenty-three percent think mobile content will grow 21-30% in 2008, and 21% think the revenues will grow 31-40%. With all of the talk in the industry about the flattening of mobile content revenues over the next couple of years, it’s interesting to see that 2008 is expected to be such a strong year. Below is a summary of top-line trends the industry is expecting over the next few years. Full-length music or radio is expected to show the most growth, followed by TV or video clips in both the on-deck and off-deck worlds. Based on changing market trends, the wider availability of 3G networks and the launch of mobile TV services on both Verizon Wireless and AT&T Mobility, these trends could emerge as the hot growth segments for both on-deck and off-deck services throughout the balance of 2008. When asked about the barriers to adoption of on-deck purchases vs. off-deck, the results were not surprising. Consumer awareness, network speeds and the carrier walled garden are viewed as the top three barriers to growth of on-deck mobile content purchases. … Read more

Top 10 US carriers, as of June 2008

The companies listed below represent the ten largest national and regional licensed wireless carriers based on subscriber numbers at the end of the first quarter of this year. There were no changes in rankings among the top 10 carriers, and AT&T Mobility continued to top the list. However, the company did note that its first-quarter net subscriber additions were reduced by about 330,000 due to the shutdown of its TDMA network in February. Verizon Wireless held its strong second-place spot. The carrier surpassed AT&T in net additions for the quarter by about 200,000 customers. Sprint Nextel Corp. held its No. 3 spot despite continued troubles and the loss of 1 million net subscribers for the quarter. In February, T-Mobile USA Inc. completed its acquisition of SunCom Wireless, which previously was ranked No. 10 on the RCR Wireless News By the Numbers list. Interestingly, Verizon Wireless is in the process of acquiring two carriers on this list- Alltel Communications L.L.C. and Rural Cellular Corp. If the deals are approved, it would make Verizon Wireless the nation’s largest carrier. … Read more

Muni Wi-Fi operator MetroFi closes down networks

Municipal Wi-Fi vendor MetroFi Inc. appears to be pulling out of the game. According to the company’s Web site, it is shutting down all but two of the ad-supported wireless networks it operates in a handful of cities in Oregon, California and Illinois. Launched in 2002, MetroFi began building Wi-Fi networks near its headquarters in Mountain View, Calif. By 2005 the company counted networks in Cupertino and Sunnyvale, Calif., and had launched a plan to build Wi-Fi networks for cities that were free to users and supported by advertising. Now, however, it seems the company’s plans have come to a halt. MetroFi plans to pull the cord on its free networks in Concord, Cupertino, Foster City, San Jose, Santa Clara and Sunnyvale in the San Francisco Bay Area, Riverside in Southern California, Aurora and Naperville in Illinois, and Portland, Oregon. The company had been hoping the cities or investors would buy the networks out, apparently but no one has stepped up to the plate so far. According to the company’s Web site, only the networks in Riverside, Calif. and Aurora, Ill., remain operational. … Read more

Philly’s municipal Wi-Fi network gets a reprieve

A group of private equity investors has rescued the municipal Wi-Fi network in Philadelphia, the city announced yesterday. The situation has been closely watched due to the failure of a number of other, high-profile, municipal Wi-Fi programs launched by EarthLink Inc., including ones in San Francisco and New Orleans. EarthLink had warned last month that it could not afford to run the Philly network, that it couldn’t find any buyers for it, and would shut it down. The Philadelphia deal’s terms were not made available, but investors included two directors of Boathouse Communications Partners L.L.C., entrepreneur Richard Rasansky and Tom Knox, a former candidate for mayor of Philadelphia. The group is known as NAC L.L.C. and will take over the network from EarthLink, which had built the network but never garnered the paid subscriptions it sought to finance it. Philadelphia had committed to a Wi-Fi network in 2006 in an effort to connect all its citizens to the Internet. But, as of May, EarthLink had only 5,000 subscribers at $20 per month, where it had once sought 100,000. The network’s new owners will finish building out the network and offer citizens free, advertising-supported Wi-Fi access, while seeking out large businesses and institutions for a paid, integrated wireless/wireline service. … Read more

Cell phones become boarding passes, whaaaaaat?

Delta Air Lines is the latest air carrier to get on board with mobile, allowing travelers at New York’s LaGuardia to use their phones as a boarding pass. Domestic flyers departing from LaGuardia’s main Delta terminal can download their boarding pass to a mobile phone via the company’s Web site and proceed directly to the airport screening area rather than check in. Staffers from the Transportation Security Administration scan the electronic pass and check customers’ identification, and Delta agents also check the phone at the gate before travelers get on board. “Passengers can now quickly check in for their flight while en route to the airport or in a taxi or walking from the parking lot to the terminal,” said Steve Gorman, Delta’s EVP of operations. “The check-in process now can take place from anywhere, any time within 24 hours of departure.” … Read more

Google dominates mobile search

Google Inc. is still the player to beat in mobile search, according to new figures from Nielsen Mobile. The Internet giant accounted for a dominating 61% of all mobile Internet searches during the first quarter of 2008, according to the firm, while Yahoo finished a distant second with 18%. MSN was last among the top three mobile search providers with 5%. Nielsen Mobile didn’t mention results for lesser players such as AOL, go2 or Interestingly, users don’t seem particularly smitten with either Google or Yahoo, however. Only 44% of Google users rated their satisfaction with mobile Internet search at eight or higher on a 10-point scale; 40% of Yahoo searchers were similarly impressed. Google, Yahoo and a host of others have jockeyed for position with carriers and other partners as mobile search begins to gain mass-market traction. … Read more

A lucrative market for local search?

Local mobile search services are growing in popularity, and nearly 1.3 billion mobile-phone users are expected to use local mobile search services by 2013, according to a new report from Juniper Research. The market could reach $4.8 billion by 2013. Western Europe and North America are poised for the strongest growth in the segment as all countries in those regions have established local digital information suppliers, such as yellow and white pages, city guides, restaurant and entertainment guides and traffic information. These regions also have good on- and off-road mapping data with coverage of points of interest, said the firm. … Read more

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


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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