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!
Blast from the past: T-Mobile US ancestor Omnipoint wants to play in PCS
Omnipoint Corp. is one among a handful of PCS innovators promised a reward by the Federal Communications Commission for enterprising work in personal communications services. But three years and $350 million dollars later, its pioneer’s preference award for the New York City license might seem more like a pat on the back to company President Doug Smith. Nevertheless, Omnipoint bears technology as its weapon in the competitive PCS arena. In the early 1980s, Smith sought a way to wirelessly transmit data at high speeds. With his background in database management systems, Smith recognized a need to resolve a bottleneck problem in local and wide area networks resulting from large amounts of data transmitted via groundlines, he said. His ambition, coupled with the scientific triumphs of Robert Dickson, now Omnipoint’s chief scientist, eventually led to the company’s inception. Dickson is a pioneer of spread spectrum technology, said Mark Vonarx, Omnipoint director of sales and marketing, noting Dickson wrote the first textbook on the subject. Just prior to forming Omnipoint, Dickson had founded Spread Spectrum Sciences, oriented toward military defense applications. Originally incorporated as Omnipoint Data Corp. in Colorado Springs, Colo., Smith and Dickson officially set up shop in 1987, following the legalization of spread spectrum technology for commercial use. Smith said the company developed the first spread spectrum wireless module and thereafter the first spread spectrum wireless telephone.Omnipoint’s efforts were focused on 1.9 GHz communications by 1991. … Read more
Tech round-up: AirTouch lowers CA prices, Motorola works on two-way paging
Noting the Federal Communications Commission recently ended state regulation of cellular service rates in California, AirTouch Cellular Communications Inc. announced lower prices and new service plans in its Los Angeles market. The carrier reduced the price of its After Hours Plan to around $30 per month compared with a previous price of about $35 per month. AirTouch also announced several new service plans, including a program that offers a 50 percent airtime use discount to customers who call or receive direct calls from another AirTouch mobile phone. That offer runs through Nov. 10. Meanwhile, Motorola Inc.’s Advanced Messaging Systems Division has signed an agreement with Ameritech Cellular Services for engineering studies and tests of Motorola’s ReFLEX 25 two-way paging system. Ameritech Corp. holds a license to operate narrowband personal communications services in the Midwest. Ameritech also will evaluate Motorola’s paging infrastructure equipment, controllers, linear transmitters and terminals for use on Ameritech’s narrowband PCS system. ReFLEX 25 is a member of Motorola’s FLEX high-speed transport protocols. Hoffman, Ill.-based Ameritech claims 1.6 million cellular customers and 700,000 paging customers. … Read more
Paging consolidation, cha-ching!
DALLAS-Paging Network Inc. expects to gain 8,000 paging subscribers through a $7.5 million cash purchase of Celpage Inc., as specified in definitive agreements between the companies. PageNet completed acquisitions of ComTech Inc., SNET Paging Inc., PageAmerica Group Inc. and PageFlorida earlier this year and expects to complete the purchase of International Paging Corp. soon, the company reported. PageNet Chief Financial Officer Barry Fromberg noted that aside from acquisitions this year and those which formed PageNet in the early 1980s, all the company’s growth has been generated internally. … Read more
CDMA vs. TDMA vs. GSM: The PCS interoperability conundrum
Launching personal communications services with a multitude of standards may be the way for industry to sort out the benefits of each technology, but it could set consumers up for chaos and confusion, said longtime wireless architect Jesse Russell. The AT&T Bell Laboratories engineer is concerned about the lack of interoperability that will result when PCS networks based on different technologies are switched on in the next few years. “The use of different technologies gets unwieldy above two or three. We need to ensure that these different standards in the same frequency don’t grow without bounds, creating problems,” said Russell, who also is chairman of the mobile and PCS division of the Telecommunications Industry Association. When cellular service began 12 years ago, the Federal Communications Commission mandated the use of analog American Mobile Phone System technology. It wasn’t a difficult choice because few other technologies were available. Today there are seven technologies vying for a spot in the wireless market, each providing certain advantages to operators. … Read more
McCaw Cellular to build TDMA network with vendors AT&T and Ericsson
BELLEVUE, Wash.-McCaw Cellular Communications Inc. said it has begun testing switching equipment from AT&T Network Systems Inc. and L.M. Ericsson in two markets. McCaw plans to purchase $450 million dollars worth of switching equipment during the next several years from the two companies to construct its Time Division Multiple Access system for personal communications services. The orders signify McCaw’s official choice of TDMA technology rather than Code Division Multiple Access technology. According to McCaw, its digital platform already has been extensively implemented throughout its 800 MHz frequency cellular licenses across the country. The same platform will be implemented at the 1900 MHz range and will offer a number of features, including caller identification, message waiting indicator, short messaging and increased battery life. Although McCaw has not named a supplier yet for PCS handsets, the company noted that wireless handset manufacturers, including AT&T and Ericsson, are preparing dual-mode (analog and digital) and dual-frequency (800 MHz and 1900 MHz) phones that will allow customers to use one phone throughout the nationwide McCaw network. … Read more
Apple envisions data system at 5 GHz spectrum
Groups battling for unlicensed spectrum at 5 GHz to create a high-speed data system agree there is industry support for such a service, but the details now are in the hands of the Federal Communications Commission. Apple Computer Inc. petitioned the FCC in May to create an unlicensed “NII Band” of 300 megahertz at 5150 MHz to 5200 MHz and 5725 MHz to 5875 MHz. Apple says unlicensed service can serve individual, niche needs on a non-preclusive basis, unlike “centralized” licensed operators who determine service offerings based on aggregate demand. The Apple proposal draws its name from the Clinton administration’s National Information Infrastructure initiative, which encourages the private sector to upgrade the country’s telecommunications and information infrastructure. Services now operating at unlicensed 5725 MHz to 5875 MHz include spread spectrum devices, industrial, scientific and medical applications, microwave landing systems and proposed mobile satellite service uplinks. Apple said it seeks a prompt ruling so manufacturers can design, develop and test new products for such a system. … Read more
Check out the RCR Wireless News Archives for more stories from the past.