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#TBT: Patent issues plague 3G; Canadian consolidation; Ghosts of technologies past … this week in 1999

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 those sepia-tinted shades, set the date for #TBT and enjoy the memories!

Unresolved patent issues plague 3G

Although Qualcomm Inc. and L.M. Ericsson announced resolutions to Code Division Multiple
Access disputes and the standoff over third-generation intellectual property rights, the companies didn’t resolve key technical differences 3G parties have tried to resolve for more than a year. Qualcomm and Ericsson announced last week they resolved all patent disputes over cdmaOne technology and will cross license IPRs for all CDMA technologies, including cdmaOne, W-CDMA and cdma2000. Both companies had remained deadlocked over 3G patents, refusing to cross license patents they claimed to own to W-CDMA and cdma2000 technologies unless certain conditions were met. Qualcomm wanted one CDMA standard backward compatible to second-generation systems, while Ericsson advocated multiple standards. The two said they now agree to jointly support approval by the International Telecommunication Union and other standards bodies-including the U.S. Telecommunications Industry Association and the European Telecommunications Standards Institute, which already has approved W-CDMA technology-of a single CDMA 3G standard that encompasses three optional modes. … Read more

3G uncertainty in China

CdmaOne vendors in China anxiously are awaiting official government word on whether China Unicom is allowed to deploy Interim Standard-95 technology. “It appears China Unicom has been told that they can proceed with their plans to deploy a CDMA network using the spectrum they already have,” said one vendor in China. “They need to go back to the ministry and present what the plan is … It appears there needs to be a final proposal and acceptance.” Signs months ago indicated the Chinese government soured on cdmaOne technology as U.S. officials indicated China essentially mandated Global System for Mobile communications as the nation’s technology, preferring to wait for the development of third-generation systems. The government previously had halted Unicom’s plan to deploy cdmaOne technology because it wanted the carrier to compete with state-run operator China Telecom on an equal technology footing using GSM technology, said Hui Pan, chief economist and director of the Asia-Pacific region with Information Gatekeepers in Boston. But China is seeking endorsement to become part of the World Trade Organization, and … Read more

Trade tensions with China threaten telecom import/export

WASHINGTON-Just when it appeared the United States and China were on the verge of a major trade agreement promising huge wireless export opportunities and Chinese m Organization, a high-tech espionage controversy has erupted that throws both would-be breakthroughs into doubt and gives Republicans a fresh political opening to criticize the Clinton administration for putting China engagement ahead of national security. Last week, responding to new espionage allegations and GOP criticism, Energy Secretary Bill Richardson fired Chinese-American scientist Wen Ho Lee from the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico after he failed a polygraph test and refused to cooperate with FBI agents during questioning about whether he played a role in China gaining U.S. nuclear secrets more than a decade ago. Lee’s dismissal follows recently completed U.S.-China talks in Beijing on trade and other issues, and comes just weeks before Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji is due to visit the nation’s capital. The recent Beijing visit by Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, U.S. Trade Representative Charlene Barshefsky and other administration officials was made awkward enough by the White House decision to deny-on national security grounds-export licenses Hughes Electronics Co. sought to complete a $450 million deal to sell two satellites to a China-led consortium for an Asia-Pacific mobile phone system. Nevertheless, administration officials sent out positive signals afterward that substantial progress was made on trade with China, the U.S.’ fifth-largest trading partner. Last year, U.S. telecom exports to China totaled more than $726 million, while imports of Chinese telecom goods reached $1.9 billion. That’s part of the problem: The United States was $57 billion in the red insofar as China trade last year. … Read more

Consolidation in Canadian telecom

Canada’s telecom market saw major changes last week, as its four smallest telecom companies agreed to merge into one company and Bell Canada formed a strategic partnership with U.S.-based Ameritech Corp. The merging of the four Atlantic region-based firms will create the country’s third-largest telecom company and second- largest information technology provider. The new company, tentatively called AtlanticCo, is made up of Bruncor Inc., Island Telecom Inc., Maritime Telegraph and Telephone Co. Ltd. and NewTel Enterprises Ltd. On a pro forma basis, AtlanticCo will have a 1998 net income of $114.2 million, with some 230 million mobility subscribers and 78-percent market share in the region. “It has a solid financial foundation, and it has the size, scope and the growth strategies to become a significant player in North America’s telecommunications and information technology industries,” said Gerry Pond, president and chief executive officer of Bruncor. Pond is set to become executive vice president of the new company and president of its Information Technology and Emerging Business group. … Read more

Remembering the ghosts of technologies past

With vendors putting their time and energy into the three main U.S. digital standards and into developing standards for third-generation technology, there hardly seems room for commercialization of the more obscure technologies touted years ago. “You need volume production and vendor financing behind it,” said Brian Cotton, senior analyst with Frost & Sullivan in Mountain View, Calif. “You need to feel good that this technology is going to be around.” Just as personal Air Communications Technology advanced paging protocol never made it off the ground because of lack of commitment from carriers, analysts wonder if Personal Access Communications System technology will follow the same route. “There will be a highway of technologies filled with wrecks on the side of the road,” said Larry Swasey, analyst with Allied Business Intelligence in Oyster Bay, N.Y. “WLL and other alternatives like broadband wireless and other data and telephony offerings will come down to who hit the marketplace at the right time.” Backers of PACS technology, a low-tier mobility wireless option, seem to be few these days. Large vendors began pushing the technology heavily in 1995, hoping to convince smaller personal communications services carriers and wireless communications services licensees to adopt the technology. Today vendors like NEC America Corp. and Siemens Stromberg-Carlson have stopped developing any PACS products in the United States. … Read more

Crown Castle extends its tower kingdom

In the last two weeks alone, Crown Castle International Corp. has more than doubled its tower portfolio in the United States and United Kingdom, securing a top position for itself among independent tower companies. The most recent transactions with Powertel Inc. and the U.K.’s One 2 One add a total of 1,471 towers to the company’s portfolio, and a deal with BellSouth Corp. earlier this month added 1,850 towers. The company also forged a joint venture with Bell Atlantic Corp. last year that added 1,400 towers to its inventory. Crown’s total tower portfolio exceeds 6,000, while its closest competitors, American Tower Corp. and SpectraSite, each control between 2,000 and 3,000 towers. “This makes Crown one of the two major tower companies with American Tower, although I think both are a little different in what they own,” said Mark Ein, a principal at the Carlyle Group, a Washington D.C.-based private equity firm. … Read more

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


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