#TBT: In search of a data hockey stick;  3G tech spats head to ITU;  Crown Castle files for an IPO … this week in 1998

#TBT: In search of a data hockey stick; 3G tech spats head to ITU; Crown Castle files for an IPO … this week in 1998


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!

Looking for the hockey stick of wireless data growth

VANCOUVER, British Columbia, Canada-Armed with nearly 300 attendees at its show, a new way to count the number of wireless data subscribers and strong evidence that Internet Protocol will be the backbone network for wireless data solutions, Wireless Data Forum board members said the industry is evolving. The Wireless Data Forum-formerly the CDPD Forum-released its first survey benchmarking the progress of wireless data. Growth is more than doubled this year, to more than 132,000 wireless data users today, compared with 51,000 users in 1997. Show sponsors said they were pleased with the number of people who attended the show and the 500-plus people who logged onto the organization’s Web site to access the conference. Vendors often point to a lack of ubiquitous wireless coverage as a reason more people don’t use wireless data services, while wireless carriers often point to a lack of applications, noted Thomas Kippola, managing partner of the Chasm Group, which consults with high- technology companies to develop marketing strategies. “If neither party steps up, neither party wins. “Every year you look for the hockey stick, and every year it’s not there,” Kippola said, referring to a high subscriber growth chart that resembles a hockey stick. … Read more

FCC items stall

WASHINGTON-With time left for the 105th Congress quickly dwindling away, the Federal Communications Commission has not seen any action on any of its suggested items. Indeed, the FCC’s Office of Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs (OLI) has not even asked for any legislation since FCC Chairman William Kennard was sworn in late last fall. This, despite public protests from Kennard that the FCC could do its job better, especially with defaulting personal communications service licensees, if Congress would help. The FCC did send a package containing 20 proposals to Congress in May 1997. These proposals, developed by the former FCC Chairman Reed Hundt, quickly went nowhere once Hundt announced he was leaving the FCC. Two other proposals sent up in September have met a similar fate. Kennard has attempted to nudge Congress to act on the FCC proposals as he has appeared before FCC reauthorization hearings held by both the House and Senate subcommittees with jurisdiction over the FCC. … Read more

US proposes four 3G technologies proposed to ITU, amid controversy over W-CDMA

WASHINGTON-The State Department, amid a flurry of high-level lobbying and an unsuccessful last-minute move to withdraw US support for the European-based mobile phone technology used by carriers here and abroad, will forward four standards for third-generation wireless technology to the International Telecommunication Union this week. The spotlight now shifts to the ITU, the Geneva-based global telecom body, which will inherit a politically explosive standards issue with billions of dollars riding on the outcome. Many believe ITU will approve a family of 3G wireless standards that does not include a wideband cdmaOne solution in a high mobility environment. That outcome could spark a trade fight between the United States and the European Union and possibly a nasty patent-infringement lawsuit. 3G wireless technology promises global roaming, high-speed data and multimedia functionalities far more sophisticated than anything available today. Gerald Peterson of Lucent Technologies Inc., chairman of a US wireless standards-setting committee, drew harsh criticism last week after allegedly attempting to quash a 3G technology selection during a meeting in Seattle. That technology-wideband Code Division Multiple Access-is based on Global System for Mobile communications and is strongly supported by Sweden’s LM Ericsson, Finland’s Nokia Corp. and their US affiliates. Peterson’s proposal was rejected. … Read more

Finding harmonization among 3G technologies is no easy task

SINGAPORE-The International Telecommunication Union has some difficult work ahead of it to harmonize the various third-generation proposals standards bodies around the world will submit by tomorrow. While most of the world’s standards bodies and individual groups of companies diligently tried to hammer out the differences between wideband Code Division Multiple Access and W-cdmaOne, both proposals will end up being separately submitted to the ITU. The ITU has set a March deadline to reach a consensus and harmonize as many proposals as possible into one standard. “We don’t know all of the proposals that will come in by June 30,” said Michael Callendar, chairman of the ITU-R Task Group 8/1 last week at the CDG World Congress in Singapore. “Hints are that there will be some surprises coming in.” The United States is likely to submit four proposals, including W-CDMA based on the Global System for Mobile communications platform and W-cdmaOne, an evolution of existing cdmaOne systems. Japan plans to submit W-CDMA, but is leaving the door open for further discussion to converge with W-cdmaOne. Korea is submitting both W-CDMA and W-cdmaOne. The European Telecommunications Standards Institute has chosen W-CDMA for mobile applications and a TD-CDMA solution for low-mobility applications. It has refused any dialogue with the Telecommunications Industry Association or others on the matter of convergence. CdmaOne champion Qualcomm Inc. ETSI has notified that it holds key patents to W-CDMA technology and will not license them unless convergence is achieved. … Read more

Crown Castle files for IPO

HOUSTON-Crown Castle International Corp. recently filed a registration statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission for the initial public offering of $300 million of its common stock, par value 1 cent per share. The offering includes common shares sold by Bob Crown, chief executive officer of CCIC’s domestic operating subsidiary, Crown Communication Inc. CCIC said it expects Crown to be the largest individual stockholder following the offering. Lehman Brothers, Credit Suisse First Boston, Goldman, Sachs & Co. and Salomon Smith Barney are the lead underwriters. CCIC also will exchange CCIC shares with certain shareholders of Castle Transmission Services (Holdings) Ltd. for CTS shares. … Read more

Utilities test the wireless waters

US utility companies could become significant players in the wireless telecommunications industry in coming years if they can figure out the right strategy to enter the business. Analysts indicate utilities seriously are evaluating opportunities to branch out into the telecommunications arena in light of deregulation in their industry. Though only a handful of utility companies are involved in the wireless industry today, the threat of new competition is causing them to look for ways to retain customers. How utility companies enter the wireless industry remains to be seen. Most, unwilling to invest in new infrastructure, are looking to leverage their existing infrastructure to fit within the telecommunications industry, said Glenn James, a partner in Deloitte & Touche Consulting Inc.’s telecommunications and media practice. “Just about every major electric and gas company has done a bunch of fiber deals. Some have been successful in the wireless arena,” he said. “Most utilities that have gotten into [wireless] operating 3 GHz microwave systems. They had to relocate when PCS (personal communications services) came along, but they had the infrastructure that the PCS guys required … Most of the activity is in equity infusions, right-of-way access and tower sharings.” Columbus, Ohio-based American Electric Power, an unregulated utility, in 1996 took advantage of its existing infrastructure and formed AEP Communications Inc. to provide fiber, wireless and information services to wholesale and retail customers. The company also has ownership interests in PCS carriers in Virginia and West Virginia. … Read more

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

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