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!
McCaw Cellular merges with AT&T
It’s a done deal. AT&T Corp.-the nation’s largest long-distance telephone company-and McCaw Cellular Communications Inc.-the biggest cellular operator in the land-are now one. The two firms closed the $11.5 billion merger Sept. 19, following conditional approval by the Federal Communications Commission earlier the same day. The two companies had set a self-imposed Sept. 30 deadline to complete the largest telecommunications deal in history. “With the FCC’s approval, AT&T and McCaw have crossed the finish line of a marathon approval process that began when we announced our plans to merge 13 months ago,” stated AT&T. AT&T is now expected to finish what McCaw began several years ago-purchase Lin Broadcasting Corp. McCaw holds 52 percent of Lin, a major cellular carrier with interests in New York, Houston, Dallas and Los Angeles, and was under contract to either buy the rest of Lin by next year or risk losing all equity in the company. The completion of the merger, which could unravel if the courts later find it anticompetitive, will likely give AT&T’s long-distance rivals-MCI Communications Corp. and Sprint Corp.-a strong incentive to find a wireless partner before auctions for broadband personal communications services licenses begin in early December. MCI recently pulled out of a partnership with Nextel Communications Inc., the nation’s largest specialized mobile radio operator, and cable-television giant Comcast Corp. “We’ll be formidable competitors in wireless too,” predicted Kevin Inda, an MCI spokesman.
Wireless comes to AT&T brand
AT&T Corp.’s $11.5 billion acquisition of McCaw Cellular Communications Inc. is part of a grand plan to package wireless and wireline products and services under what is perhaps the most recognized brand name in telecommunications-AT&T. “My confidence in this merger is bolstered by the fact that these two companies are such a logical, strategic fit,” said AT&T Chairman Robert Allen at a Sept. 20 press conference in New York. AT&T and McCaw closed the deal the previous day, after it was approved by the Federal Communications Commission. “A full range of wired and wireless technologies is fundamental to AT&T’s global leadership in networking,” noted Allen. But AT&T’s wireless rollout won’t happen overnight, and company officials do not know exactly how AT&T will integrate the Cellular One brand that McCaw has marketed. “We hope AT&T will recognize the value Cellular One delivers to the cellular marketplace and should continue using the most widely known and widely used cellular brand in the United States…Cellular One,” stated the Cellular One Group. One thing is certain: The marriage of the nation’s largest long-distance telephone company to the nation’s largest cellular operator makes for a formidable force in the wireless telecommunications industry. … Read more
What’s that you say? Wireless that can compete with wireline?
Motorola Inc.’s Personal Communications Systems formally introduced its Teledensity product, a wireless system designed for local loop and personal communications services applications, at the recent Personal Communications Industry Association Showcase in Seattle. Earlier in September, Motorola announced its first customer for Teledensity would be Southwestern Bell Corp., which plans a trial personal access communications system (PACS) in St. Louis using Motorola’s product. Motorola is in discussions with several other carriers, including U S West Communications, but nothing specific has been announced, according to Phil Petersen, Motorola’s manager of market research for PCS. Motorola’s Cellular Infrastructure Group introduced a WiLL (Wireless Local Loop) product last year. But that system is based on analog Advanced Mobile Phone System technology, and Motorola has been marketing it primarily to the international market to bring phone service to rural areas. Teledensity, although it could be used for some rural applications where houses are closer together, will be marketed primarily for urban/suburban areas as a replacement for wireline phone service. Teledensity uses digital technology. The product likely will make its first round of trials and sales in the United States, although Motorola does intend to market it internationally as well. “It’s probably the first time a wireless system is cost competitive with wire in an urban/suburban environment,” said Petersen, explaining the significance of this product. Until now, it has been more cost effective to use wireline phone systems rather than wireless systems in cities, he explained. … Read more
Qualcomm’s first PCS mobile phone
Gearing up for upcoming personal communications services auctions, Qualcomm Inc. has introduced several products based on its Code Division Multiple Access digital technology, including the company’s first portable phone for the PCS market. Qualcomm’s eight ounce QCP-1900 transmits radio frequency power at extremely low levels, giving the phone five hours of talk time and 72 hours of standby time on a single battery, surpassing power capabilities of many high-end cellular handsets by more than four times, according to Qualcomm. The new portable also provides broad coverage and extended capacity. The phone uses Qualcomm’s 13 kilobit per second voice coding option, designed to provide voice clarity comparable to that of a wired phone, according to the company. Other features in the QCP-1900 are 10-number speed dialing, auto redial and answer, 99 memory storage units with alphanumeric tagging, and 32-digit dialing. A separate memory retains the last 10 calls. User-friendly components include menu-driven interaction, a slide-up ear piece that retracts to prevent accidental dialing, and a large, easy-to-read, back-lit LCD display and 20-button keypad. Qualcomm Personal Electronics, a joint venture established in March between Qualcomm and Sony Electronics, is manufacturing the QCP-1900 and anticipates the new phone will hit the market in mid-1995, along with the company’s CDMA QCS-2000 PCS modular system, which will include base stations with microcells, distributed-antenna capabilities and base station controllers. … Read more
You are now entering … the We-Way zone
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. The exhibit notes that technology did not define the beginning of the Age of Multimedia, legislation did. The Telecommunications Reform Act of 1994-1995 promulgated a new era where information made full use of the auditory, tactile and visual senses, a technique defined now as conversational sensations. … The first Neighbor was introduced by Microsoft Inc. in 1998. It combined the features of a folded hand-sized wireless phone with a flat key board and a voice-responsive computer. The computer, sized 30 centimeters by 15 centimeters by 2 centimeters thick, was extremely powerful for the time, equaling the capability of IBM Corp.’s high-end mainframe computer of a mere decade before. Using the Gates programming language, the Neighbor’s software was designed to provide a seamless interface into the entertainment and information databases just becoming available on the National Information Infrastructure, now known as the we-way. Though not completed until 2013, the we-way eventually provided all Americans wireless access from any location in the country. Neighbors and the we-way rid the American office and home desks of much of the machinery that swallowed needed space. Later versions of the Neighbor included gallium nodes for virtual reality. The Smithsonian exhibit displays the first model of the Neighbor to come off the production line. Read more
Washington battles over telecom bill
WASHINGTON-Construction of the Clinton administration’s much ballyhooed information superhighway is likely to be delayed, following the death of telecommunications reform legislation in the 103rd Congress. Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Ernest Hollings, D-S.C., pulled the plug on his information superhighway bill late last month, blaming some regional Bell telephone companies and Minority Leader Robert Dole, R-Kan., for the measure’s demise. The legislation represented the most sweeping overhaul of telecommunications laws since the enactment of the Communications Act of 1934. The impact on the wireless telecommunications industry is limited. First, regional Bell cellular firms will continue to be prohibited from offering long-distance wireless services, while AT&T Corp.-McCaw Cellular Communications Inc., Nextel Communications Inc. and others build nationwide wireless networks. Second, last year’s regulatory parity provisions creating commercial mobile radio service will not be undone by information superhighway legislation. Cellular operators, particularly, worried that the Hollings bill’s imposition of interconnection and equal access requirements on all common carriers would force wireless firms to let each subscriber choose their own long-distance telephone company. Burdensome regulations would chill competition in the wireless telecommunications industry, according to the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association. Cellular resellers, on the other hand, wanted wireless interconnection mandated. … Read more
FCC seeks to mandate e911 capability
WASHINGTON-With the number of people using mobile telephones increasing each year, federal regulators want to improve 911 emergency service for calls made over the airwaves, and could force carriers that fail to meet future government standards to put warning labels on handsets indicating their limited capability. “The commission has no greater responsibility to protect life and health,” said Commissioner Susan Ness at a Federal Communications Commission’s meeting last month. Today, cellular phones are becoming a popular public-safety tool, accounting for a half million 911 calls every month. That figure is expected to skyrocket in coming years as cellular, personal communications services, specialized mobile radio and mobile satellite phones make their way to the mass market. The problem is that public-safety dispatchers receiving wireless 911 calls cannot automatically identify or pinpoint the locatation of the calling party, which is an essential feature in emergencies when individuals may be panic stricken or physically unable to talk. Enhanced 911 systems, which automatically identify the caller’s telephone number and location, are integrated into traditional landline telephone networks throughout the country. The FCC said it intends to mandate that commercial wireless operators make E911 available to customers in the future, and is soliciting comment as to how that can be accomplished. … Read more
Check out the RCR Wireless News Archives for more stories from the past.