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#TBT: GM defends OnStar calls; CDMA2000 on the rise; Telstra cuts a mobile ad effort … this week in 2001

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!

GM defends OnStar calls

DETROIT—The recent and well-publicized crackdown on mobile-phone use and driver safety and the official launch of its “personal calling” service prompted OnStar to release last week what it claims is significant proof that using the OnStar system while driving a car does not contribute to serious traffic accidents. As part of its “SenseAble” driving program, General Motors Corp. revealed findings of a study that monitored 8.1 million calls to OnStar call center advisers over the course of five years. GM said during that time, there were only two instances during which a driver on the phone to the call center was involved in a crash severe enough to deploy the air bag. GM added there was “no evidence that the calls actively contributed to the crashes.” Chet Huber, president of OnStar, said the company’s findings contradict the results of other research reports that have suggested using a wireless phone while driving poses a significant safety threat. “We’ve seen a lot of research that has come out that would suggest there is no difference between using a handheld cell phone and a voice-activated hands-free cell phone,” said Huber. “Data has shown that there are significant advantages to having a hands-free phone.” Huber emphasized the importance of the study because it is allegedly the first to analyze actual, not estimated, information about whether a crash occurred at the same time a mobile phone was in use. … Read more

Lucent brings CDMA2000 equipment to market

MURRAY HILL, N.J.—Lucent Technologies Inc. said it is the first vendor in North America and one of the first worldwide to make its third-generation cdma2000 equipment and software available for commercial launch.
“Mobile operators that upgrade their current-generation networks to cdma2000 will have the capability to double their network’s voice capacity and increase data-transmission speeds nearly ten times,” said Lucent in a statement. … Read more

Qualcomm, Nortel make a CDMA2000 call

SAN DIEGO—Qualcomm Inc. and Nortel Networks said they have successfully conducted an end-to-end, live third-generation cdma2000 1x mobile Internet Protocol call in Nortel’s lab in Richardson, Texas. “This call demonstrated the expanded data capabilities of 3G wireless networks and the ability for wireless data users to roam uninterrupted across 3G wireless packet networks,” said both companies in a statement. … Read more

Verizon adds account management from a mobile phone

BELLEVUE, Wash.—Verizon Wireless introduced an account management service for customers in Oregon and Washington allowing access to account balance information and airtime usage free of charge from their wireless handsets. The service allows subscribers to dial #BAL and then send to access their account balance and payment due date, or #MIN and then send to receive an estimate of the number of peak and off-peak local airtime minutes used since their last bill. … Read more

Sony/Ericsson handset partnership hits the skids

OXFORD, United Kingdom—Plans to combine the technical and marketing skills of Ericsson and Sony for a fresh assault on the handset market appear to be in trouble. Reports from Japan claim that Ericsson is becoming increasingly worried about the success of the project following the recall earlier this year of more than 1 million Sony-made handsets. After a high-level PR display when the two firms signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) in April, a formal contract has yet to be agreed upon between the two manufacturers. Sony confirmed that the process was taking a little longer than expected, but insisted talks were still on track and joint development work would definitely start on 1 October. The original statements called for the London-based venture, to be branded Sony Ericsson Mobile Communication, to employ more than 3,000 staff and start rolling out new products in the first half of next year. … Read more

Telstra misstep: Mobile ads that charge customers

MELBOURNE, Australia—Australian wireless carrier Telstra Corp. quickly backtracked on a plan to push advertisements to its subscribers after Australia’s communications minister harshly criticized the move.
Telstra recently sent its MobileNet subscribers a message advertising a new service. Customers were charged 12 cents to open the message, a ploy that raised the ire of the country’s Communications Minister Richard Alston.
“Charging people for accessing Telstra promotional material is simply not acceptable,” Alston told Reuters. “To impose a service on somebody and then charge them for accessing it is push technology.” A day after Alston made his comments, Telstra issued an apology and said it would refund the cost of opening the message, regardless of whether customers had done so. “Telstra apologizes for any inconvenience caused to our customers,” said Rick Wakeham, the company’s OnAir director of products. … 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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