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#TBT: The wild, wild world of the ‘We-Way’; Nokia sees phone sales surge; PCS auction set to start … this week in 1994

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!

The wild imagined world of the ‘We-Way’

Oct. 8, 2022. Washington, D.C. The Smithsonian exhibit on the Age of Multimedia: 1994-2008 opened for public viewing in the Gore Digital Museum complex located in the old Department of Agriculture Building. This year marks the 75th anniversary of the invention of the transistor, a milestone in the dawn of the Information Age. The term “multimedia” implies a hidden comparison to single forms of media. Electronic information was first expressed through visual and/or audio input that was complementary rather than integrated. Information appeared as text, video, or audio. Individuals communicated electronically using one or two of these formats. Multimedia involves weaving all three together. The exhibit is composed of three modules: the technology that spawned multimedia, and the impact this information form had on American business and on the personal lives of Americans. The technology exhibit begins with a virtual walk through one of the first transistors developed by Bell Laboratories, then still a subsidiary of AT&T Corp. Blown up to 1,000 times actual size, the spaces between the component parts are cavernous, and the materials used had not advanced beyond metal wire and rubber insulation. Standing to the right of the device is the vacuum bulb, an oddly sensual component that replaced the transistor. Thematically, the viewer takes a virtual walk through the first silicon chip, as well as the gallium node introduced at the beginning of the millennia by Anastasia Electronics of St. Petersburg, Russia. In comparison to the microchip, which miniaturized transistors, the significance of the innovation of the gallium node is in its ability to send electrical signals to the brain that mimic the sensory input of touch, hearing and sight. The node is attached by platinum wire to a pad placed on the left upper forehead. The node is so compact, that at 1,000 times actual size, the virtual size of an individual exploring the interior has shrunk to a centimeter. … Read more

All business, no fanfare: The FCC’s Susan Ness

In unspectacular fashion, Susan Ness diligently immersed herself in spectrum auction and personal communications services rulemakings at the Federal Communications Commission soon after she was confirmed as a commissioner by the Senate in May. Such is the style of the former banking executive and House Banking Committee lawyer. As the agency’s newest commissioner, the 46-year-old Ness takes her job seriously. She’s all business, and without a lot of fanfare is putting her imprint on ground-breaking telecommunications policy. But being intelligent, conscientious and hard-working proved inadequate for the Washington, D.C., establishment, which desperately wanted to know what role Ness would serve on a revamped FCC that has added three new members in the past year. Thus, after only a handful of months in office, the murmuring began. Ness’ vote could be counted on by FCC Chairman Reed Hundt. Both are Democratic appointees and Clinton loyalists with more than casual ties to the White House. The Washington establishment had begun to typecast Ness as a rubber stamp for Hundt, even though her brief voting record since joining the agency has been indistinguishable from the other four FCC members. So, before a group of communications lawyers on Sept. 22, Ness used humor with mixed results to declare that she is not a philosophical twin of Hundt. She poked fun, too, at her serious demeanor. … Read more

Nokia sees mobile phone sales surge

Nokia Corp. reported solid financial results for the first eight months of 1994, particularly in its telecommunications and mobile phone divisions, with net sales increasing 54 percent and 62 percent, respectively. Accounting for structural changes within the group, as well as fluctuating exchange rates, the January-August period yielded nearly $3.57 billion in net sales, up 40 percent from $2.42 billion the same period last year. Net profits skyrocketed 612 percent to $327.5 million from $46 million for 1993’s corresponding period. Operating profit for the eight months was $404 million, compared to $134.6 million; pre-tax profit rose to $448.4 million from $79.7 million. Nokia raised its share capital by a maximum of 6 million preferred shares, directing its share issue primarily at international investors. A total of $490 million in new capital has been raised. Nokia’s preferred shares were listed on the New York Stock Exchange, where trading began on July 1. Also, the company’s board of directors approved a proposal to convert common shares to preferred shares. To date, more than 3 million shares have been converted. “The positive development of the first four months of the year intensified during the second four-month period,” said Jorma Ollila, Nokia president and chief executive officer. “Nokia Telecommunications and Nokia Mobile Phones results for the first eight months were good.” … Read more

US West debuts wireless data service

SEATTLE-U S West Cellular Inc. said it has launched its wireless data service across the company’s 13-state service area, offering end-to-end data solutions. Products offered include data-capable cellular phones, cellular modems and cellular facsimile machines. U S West Cellular said it has made adjustments throughout its cellular network to achieve optimum transmission at 14.4 kilobits per second. … Read more

PCS spectrum auction set to kick off

The Oct. 28 deadline for those applying with the Federal Communications Commission to participate in next month’s auction for broadband personal communications services licenses has come and gone. And with it comes the end of the anticipation, hype and hoopla-for now-over the courtships and possible alliances among many of the telecommunications giants, who during the past several weeks have strutted their marketing prowess, deep pockets, territorial claims, service offerings and brand name clout in front of one another like peacocks preparing to mate, yet frightened by the thought that any one bird could end up with more feathers than the others. Paranoia runs rampant among such proud birds. For most, it was a race to beat the clock, and time will tell whether all the partners within any given alliance will remain friendly, given how quickly they were all thrown together. In all, the FCC received applications from 74 candidates for 99 PCS licenses that will be put on the auction block Dec. 5. Two licenses in each of 51 markets will be offered, less the three licenses already spoken for as a result of the FCC’s pioneer preference awards to Omnipoint Corp., Cox Enterprises Inc. and American Personal Communications. Based on the applications filed, bidding is expected to be intense for most of the major markets when it begins next month. That’s no surprise to anyone; the government expects to raise as much as $10 billion from the broadband PCS auctions. What is interesting, however, is to look at the apparent strategies of some of the players, and which markets they’ll be going after. … 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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