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!
‘Cheap beeps’ vs. ‘paging on steroids’
New protocol-based paging technologies may not only alleviate carrier capacity problems but also may transform the nature of service offerings from “cheap beeps” to “paging on steroids.” Alphanumeric paging, the first “enhanced service” to be offered by carriers, ran smack into the problem of network capacity limitations dogging the industry. Even though alpha subscribers reportedly generate two to three times more revenue per subscriber-with less churn-than numeric subscribers, most carriers simply lack the capacity to offer the service. Prudential Securities estimates alphanumeric and enhanced messaging devices account for less than 10 percent of the industry’s subscriber base. MobileMedia Communications Inc. has been the exception. Before its recent acquisition of BellSouth Corp.’s paging subsidiary, MobileComm, 16 percent of MobileMedia’s subscriber base was alphanumeric, according to Prudential. “MobileMedia has been the leader in alpha and will probably use MobileComm to push alpha nationwide,” said Ann Lynch, an analyst with Boston-based Yankee Group. … Read more
The gospel of ‘alpha’
ISLANDIA, N.Y.-Affordable Message Center has found the gospel of alphanumeric paging and is spreading the word by taking its show on the road nationwide. From an end-user standpoint, alphanumeric paging provides greater speed than two-way paging, greater message capacity than digital and greater privacy than voice, said Alexander Ott, president of the Islandia, N.Y., master reseller. At a time when paging prices are going down, alphanumeric offers resellers the potential to triple their revenues per subscriber, according to David E. Honig, the company’s sales manager. “It will allow the smaller resellers, who’d otherwise be out of business, to make a profit,” Honig said. But alphanumeric paging also is harder to program and harder to explain, Ott said. Consequently, there is a need to “proactively educate the reseller, or he won’t push the product,” Honig said. Furthermore, resellers have been burned by churn among alphanumeric paging customers who use more messages than the plan they signed up and paid for, and then switch to another company. “The service doesn’t automatically shut off, so the resellers eat the loss in over calls because there is no way to collect the money,” Ott said. … Read more
Cellular shopping on the World Wide Web, ’96 edition (‘Cyber doors’! Three phone models! Orders via fax!)
A new retail outlet for cellular is opening nationwide, but there won’t be any sales people and you won’t find the address in the yellow pages. Denver-based nLYTn Technologies Corp. is opening Cellmart on the World Wide Web, a virtual store where consumers can find buying tips, compare providers’ prices and order cellular service, phones and accessories all online. The company got its start in early 1995, with the intention to provide a better carrier billing system. As the business progressed, Cellmart founders Yvonne Berry and Trent Sutton recognized an untapped market. “Instead of helping customers with billing costs, we’re helping them with acquisition costs,” said Sutton. Cellmart is easy, say its founders. Browsers are provided four initial options. “Learn” provides buying tips, “shop” takes users to carriers’ service information, “contact” connects users to nLYTn and “home” returns users to Cellmart’s introductory menu. Select “shop” and a nationwide map pops up on the screen. Users choose one state, then a city, and the names of the licensed carriers in that area appear. Once browsers click on a carrier’s cyber door, they enter that carrier’s “store.” Inside, all information-educational or promotional-comes from that carrier. Users can navigate between the carriers’ stores to determine the services that best suit them. Each provides rate plan information, photo images and descriptions of three phone models, choices of accessories and order forms. Carriers can include any other information under an “additional information” option. Some have shown interest in including a sample copy of a bill to guide new customers, while others may want to communicate with agents in that area. The Cellmart carrier information can be updated within a business day. “Order now” buttons will appear throughout, and customers can order toll-free using a credit card via the Internet, phone or fax. Sutton said the company processes credit checks and phone orders for the carrier. … Read more
Paging consolidating — and growing like crazy
NEW YORK-The numbers vary depending on the source, but there is unanimity about the trends unfolding in the nation’s paging sector during the past year: subscriber growth, consolidation in the number of paging providers and overall increases in revenues despite price squeezes due to competition and consumer resistance. By the end of last year, the total number of paging subscribers, or units in service, had skyrocketed to just more than 34 million, according to preliminary estimates by Washington-based Economic & Management Consultants International Inc. Goldman Sachs & Co., New York, pegged the year-end 1995 total at 29 million subscribers. Last year’s total represented a quantum leap compared with 1994, which closed out with some 27 million or so pagers in service, according to EMCI and Paul Kagan Associates Inc., Carmel, Calif. Goldman Sachs tallied the year-end 1994 total at slightly more than 24 million. EMCI estimates that 1996 will end with more than 39 million paging units in service, while Goldman Sachs projects there will be 35 million paging subscribers. Many industry observers are predicting double-digit growth in paging beyond this year. … Read more
Western Wireless goes public
NEW YORK-Western Wireless Corp. went public May 22 with an 11 million share common stock offering priced at $23.50 each. At the same time, the company sold a 10-year, $150 million debt issue priced to yield 10.5 percent. The initial public offering of common stock was divided into two parts, with 8.8 million shares sold in the United States and 2.2 million sold internationally, according to Goldman, Sachs & Co., New York, which was the lead underwriter. Headquartered in Issaquah, Wash., Western Wireless was formed in 1994 through the merger of several companies, including General Cellular Corp. and Markets Cellular L.P. In its cellular markets, it has 240,000 subscribers. Through the Federal Communications Commission auction that ended last March, Western Wireless won the broadband personal communications services licenses for six major trading areas: Honolulu, Salt Lake City, Portland, Ore., Des Moines/Quad Cities, Iowa, El Paso, Texas/Albuquerque, N.M., and Oklahoma City. … Read more
Who will buy cellular data services? Transportation and utilities
WASHINGTON-The best near-term opportunities for cellular and personal communications services carriers to sell data services are in the utilities and transportation industries, according to a new study from Economic and Management Consultants International Inc. and Zsigo Wireless Data Consultants. In “Demand and Outlook for Cellular/PCS Data Services in Vertical Markets,” the companies report that new sources of competition and the creation of a spot market for electricity is compelling utilities to automate data collection activities in support of crucial applications such as demand site management, automated meter reading and real-time spot market pricing. … Read more
FCC authorized to hold more spectrum auctions
WASHINGTON-The House GOP strategy to reach out to voters this election year by repealing a 4.3 cents gasoline tax hike and underwriting forgone federal revenue by auctioning 35 megahertz of unspecified spectrum highlights tensions that have come to exist between budgeters and lawmakers with telecommunications policy oversight over the golden airwaves. A bill to roll back the gas tax increase-passed by the House May 21 and awaiting action in the Senate-directs the Federal Communications Commission to sell wireless licenses by March 31, 1998, to offset lost tax dollars, and also extends the agency’s auction authority permanently. The FCC’s auction authority had been set to expire this August. The Congressional Budget Office estimates nearly $3 billion can be raised by the sale of 35 megahertz of spectrum below the 3 GHz band. It has been speculated that frequencies earmarked for broadcast news gathering and digital audio radio service would comprise some or all of the 35 megahertz. … Read more
Check out the RCR Wireless News Archives for more stories from the past.