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!
Sprint takes over Sprint PCS partnership
Sprint Corp. announced its deal to gain ownership and management control of Sprint PCS, its wireless venture with Tele-Communications Inc., Comcast Corp. and Cox Communications Inc. The Kansas City, Mo.-based long-distance carrier will issue shares of a new common stock that tracks Sprint’s wireless operations to the cable partners in exchange for their interests, and will issue shares to the public in an initial public offering later this year. The cable partners initially will receive a 47-percent interest in the new stock in exchange for their interests in Sprint PCS and PhillieCo. Sprint’s initial share will be 53 percent. The cable partners will not have special governance rights in Sprint PCS or Sprint Corp. and will be issued low vote shares (1/10 vote). TCI currently owns a 30-percent interest in Sprint PCS, while Cox and Comcast own 15 percent each. Sprint, TCI and Cox own PhillieCo. Sprint will combine its wholly owned basic trading area properties along with PhillieCo assets under the Sprint PCS name. The new structure will allow Sprint PCS to become more focused in accelerating subscriber growth by expanding distribution through its own channels and lower-cost channels, say analysts. The cable partners had become reluctant to fork over more money to the venture. All three have reported huge losses associated with the rollout of Sprint PCS service, and their original plans to compete with existing local telephone companies by using cable TV lines and new wireless communications technology have fallen by the wayside. … Read more
Major pager outage sparks move to protect infrastructure
WASHINGTON-President Clinton, pointing to the recent satellite failure that disabled millions of pagers, has taken steps to protect against unconventional threats to telecom networks and other critical infrastructure throughout the country. “If we fail to take strong action, then terrorists, criminals and hostile regimes could invade and paralyze these vital systems, disrupting commerce, threatening health, weakening our capacity to function in a crisis,” said Clinton at the U.S. Naval Academy’s commencement recently. One directive injects a program management approach to countering cyber attacks and establishes the office of national coordinator for security, infrastructure protection and counter-terrorism. The other directive calls for a national effort to secure increasingly vulnerable and interconnected infrastructures for telecommunications, banking and finance, energy, transportation and essential government services. Under the second directive, the National Infrastructure Protection Center is to be housed at the FBI, where representatives from federal agencies and the private sector can share information and collaborate on national policy. … Read more
Pager outage post-mortem
Now that the crisis is over and paging service has been restored, the paging industry is debating exactly what the pre-Memorial Day pager outage means for its future. Carriers that had backup plans felt they handled matters well. But since this was the first incident of its kind, no one really knew how backup plans would work. Today carriers are looking to see how they can do things better, and likely cheaper, if such an event were ever to happen again. “After something like this happens, we’re going to have discussions to see what we can do better next time,” said Paging Network Inc. Director of Corporate Communications Scott Baradell, in essence summing up the plans of the other carriers. Estimates of how much the outage cost carriers are beginning to trickle in. AirTouch Paging said the cost of returning service and crediting affected customers totaled $2 million. PageMart Wireless Inc. estimated about $1.5 million. Other carriers still are tallying their costs. … Read more
Satellites and comets don’t mix
In the upcoming months and years, several events in space have the potential to threaten the existing array of satellites orbiting the planet. Any one of these events has the ingredients to do as little as weaken satellite strength to as much as knock out a satellite. While these cycles have come and gone in the past, with more satellites orbiting than ever before, more critical communications functions are vulnerable. The rash of low-earth-orbit satellites systems alone is unprecedented, as Iridium L.L.C. plans to begin service in September and others continue launching the birds. The first astronomical event is the upcoming Leonid meteoroid showers expected in November. The Aerospace Corp.’s Center for Orbital and Re-entry Debris Studies teamed with the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics to host a conference in April titled “Leonid Meteoroid Storm and Satellite Threat Conference.” While the earth experiences Leonid meteoroid showers every year as it passes through the tail of the comet Tempel-Tuttle, the earth will pass through the thickest section of the tail in the next two years, resulting in the most intense meteorite bombardment of the earth’s atmosphere in 33 years. … Read more
CTIA works on standard for wireless alerts
WASHINGTON-The Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association last week went on the offensive to put in place a technical standard that will allow carriers to alert subscribers of an impending natural disaster or weather emergency. Also, James L. Witt, director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, last week stressed citizens need to heed warnings they receive about natural disasters and weather emergencies. The CTIA standard calls for linking wireless phones to the existing emergency broadcast service. The nation’s Emergency Alert System was designed during the Cold War to warn citizens of national emergencies. The system never has been used for that purpose, but it has been used to warn of weather emergencies and natural disasters. The Standards Requirements Document submitted at the Telecommunications Industry Association meeting in Illinois urges TIA to develop a method for providing wireless users with EAS messages. CTIA further suggested this could be accomplished through the short message services, in a broadcast mode, over the digital control channel. … Read more
Organized crime targets wireless in run-up to Y2K
NEW YORK-Wireless telephony providers are hemorrhaging revenues from organized activity by criminals drawn to the low risk and easy money of subscription fraud. Thieves are exploiting a particularly lucrative window of opportunity right now, one that is likely to remain open for a few years. They have spotted a vulnerable blind side as carriers focus their full attention on year-2000 compliance for billing systems, without which they will become insolvent, said John Valentine, president and chief executive officer of Infoglide Corp., Austin, Texas. Infoglide is a software company focused on tracking terrorists, serial murderers and rapists, income tax evaders and those who commit Medicaid and car-insurance fraud. The company, recently featured on ABC TV’s “60 Minutes,” expects to release this summer a version of its software designed specifically for wireless telecommunications. The advent of digital technology may have cut off drug dealers and other organized criminals from cloning phones. However, there are far fewer law-enforcement agencies chasing telephone fraudsters than drug dealers and gangsters, said Norman A. Willox Jr., founder and chief executive officer of the National Fraud Center, Horsham, Pa. … Read more
AT&T Wireless offers monthly flat rate for unlimited wireless data
AT&T Wireless Services Inc.’s Wireless Data Division introduced a new monthly flat-rate pricing system for unlimited wireless data transfer on its Cellular Digital Packet Data network. The company offers two plans in place of its per-kilobyte transfer pricing model of the past. The Local Unlimited plan offers customers a monthly rate of $55 for unlimited transfer. An additional 5 cents per kilobyte roaming fee is included when used in markets outside AT&T’s wireless IP service. A National Unlimited plan also is available for $65 a month, with no roaming charges. “This is the second bold pricing move in a month for AT&T,” said Kendra VanderMeulen, senior vice president and general manager of the Wireless Data Division. “We put a major stake in the ground with the introduction of Digital One Rate service … Now we are taking a similar step with these unlimited pricing plans for our wireless data customers.” Customers can use AT&T’s network to transfer wireless data for applications such as e-mail, remote local area network and corporate intranet access. The plans are designed for customers who use a wireless IP-compatible modem on their laptop or palmtop computers, personal digital assistants or other portable computing devices. … Read more
Motorola adds data, fax capabilities to CDMA
ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill.-Motorola Inc.’s Cellular Infrastructure Group announced it is deploying data and fax capabilities on commercial Code Division Multiple Access wireless networks. Motorola CIG is deploying circuit-switched data in networks in Japan, South America and the United States. GTE plans to test the service on its personal communications services networks in Cincinnati and Seattle, the company said. Circuit-switched data and fax services are transparent to subscribers and allow them to connect a CDMA phone to a computer to send and receive faxes and connect to the Internet without special modems, at speeds up to 14.4 kilobits per second, said Motorola. … Read more
Prepping for a trial of priority cellular access for public safety
WASHINGTON-The federal government is “poised and waiting to begin a pilot program” of cellular priority access for emergency personnel, the Clinton administration’s senior telecom official recently told the Federal Communications Commission. The FCC should not delay further approving the Cellular Priority Access Service, or CPAS, program, said Larry Irving, head of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. The National Communications System (NCS) asked for the program almost three years ago. Notwithstanding the Clinton administration request, it appears that it will be at least fall before the FCC acts on CPAS, government officials said. CPAS has been included in the FCC’s Public Safety Wireless Access Committee (PSWAC) docket, which is designed to determine public-safety needs. The FCC is slated to issues rules on PSWAC-related items in September, but government officials do not believe CPAS will be included with those rules. CPAS originally was submitted as a 1995 petition by the Department of Defense as a system that would give emergency personnel a clear channel when public-safety channels are congested. The proposal has since been expanded to include all CMRS, although it still is referred to as CPAS in government circles. … Read more
Check out the RCR Wireless News Archives for more stories from the past.
The post #TBT: Sprint takes over PCS partnership; major pager outage aftermath; exploring priority access for public safety … this week in 1998 appeared first on RCR Wireless News.