#TBT: Text messaging surges; 3G threatened by fragmentation; VoiceStream, AT&T Wireless mull merger … this week in 2002

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!

Text messaging surges

The text messaging industry in the United States is growing by leaps and bounds, and most agree it has the potential to be huge. The application is really the first major win for the nascent and struggling U.S. wireless data market for consumers, and many agree it could prod wireless users to think of their phone as more than just a portable dial tone. Indeed, many in the industry hope text messaging will act as a kind of primer, a teaser that will push consumers to pay for 2.5- and third-generation wireless data services-thus validating carriers’ massive investments in the technology. While the importance of text messaging in the United States is paramount, getting details from the carriers on the subject is virtually impossible. Most of the nation’s largest carriers have been offering text messaging services for years, but only early this year did they take the all-important step of opening up their networks and agreeing to send messages to the customers of rival carriers. PrimeCo Personal Communications, Leap Wireless, AT&T Wireless Services Inc., Verizon Wireless, Cingular Wireless, VoiceStream Wireless and Sprint PCS (which offers WAP-based messaging) all have agreed to cross-network messaging contracts. Analysts point to these interconnect agreements as the key factor in the success of messaging in Europe and elsewhere. And it seems to be working. Verizon Wireless managed 2 million text messages per day on its network during the first quarter-messages generated before the carrier opened its network to cross-carrier messaging. “Since then it’s gone up dramatically,” said Verizon spokeswoman Nancy Stark. … Read more

AT&T offers business wireless solutions

REDMOND, Wash.-AT&T Wireless introduced a trio of business solutions designed for customers using the carrier’s GSM/GPRS network. The solutions includes Office Online, a ViAir Inc.-provided product that allows customers to remotely access corporate and personal e-mail accounts and manage personal information from any Web-enabled device. The service is compatible with both Microsoft Outlook and Lotus Notes and works by redirecting a user’s e-mail account from a connected corporate computer to the user’s wireless device of choice. AT&T Wireless said the service could be added to any of its data plans for $3 per month. The second part of the solution includes the use of Research In Motion Ltd.’s BlackBerry 5810 handheld to manage real-time corporate e-mail and phone calls. The BlackBerry requires a $3,000 Enterprise Server that supports up to 20 employees with the handheld device priced at $550 each. Rate plans begin at $40 per month per device with optional calling plans starting at $20 per month per device. … Read more

3G threatened by fragmentation

SAN JOSE, Calif.-While the mobile industry is poised for massive growth during the next five year, widespread acceptance of third-generation technology will present a challenge, according to new research from Frost & Sullivan. According to the report, “Global Next-Generation Mobile Networks Markets,” the mobile industry generated more than $45 billion in worldwide revenues in 2001 and will likely generate near $75 billion by 2007. However, Frost & Sullivan believes multiple network technologies present a major challenge in continued growth for the international marketplace. “Industry participants are expected to face an uphill task in their efforts to reduce the presence of multiple technologies,” explained analyst Kshitij Moghe. … Read more

Filling ‘time holes’ with wireless?

BEDMINSTER, N.J.-In an effort to show Americans how and when wireless services can help them to be more productive, Verizon Wireless and MSN have released the results of a recent survey conducted on their behalf by RoperASW. The research points to “time holes”-blocks of time Americans spend disconnected or unproductive-which RoperASW said make up 45 minutes or more of every day for at least 34 percent of American. Time holes, according to RoperASW include, for example, time spent waiting in traffic as well as at the DMV, doctor’s office and post office. According to the survey, 82 percent of respondents either strongly or somewhat agreed that the ability to stay in touch makes them feel less frustrated and more productive. “We conducted this survey to see if people were being as useful and efficient with their time as they want to be,” explained John Stratton, vice president and chief marketing officer of Verizon Wireless. … Read more

AT&T Wireless and VoiceStream consider a merger

NEW YORK-AT&T Wireless Services Inc. and VoiceStream Wireless Corp. are in preliminary talks to merge their wireless operations, which would create the nation’s second-largest wireless carrier, according to a Wall Street Journal report. A merged company would combine the country’s third- and sixth-largest nationwide carriers and serve more than 25 million customers. The story, citing people close to the talks, said the deal could be worth $10 billion with VoiceStream ending up as the majority shareholder of the combined company. Both Deutsche Telekom and AT&T Wireless had no comment on the merger possibility. Both carriers have been involved in a number of consolidation rumors with fellow GSM carrier Cingular Wireless, including speculation of a Cingular-AT&T Wireless merger and a Cingular-VoiceStream merger. Some analysts have noted the latter would be the most likely possibility because VoiceStream needs Cingular’s customer base and Cingular needs VoiceStream spectrum. AT&T Wireless is seen as the least likely to need a merger since it has a relatively strong and healthy customer base and one of the best spectrum positions of the nationwide operators. Speculation surrounding VoiceStream’s future has percolated recently with parent company Deutsche Telekom’s top executive Ron Sommer reportedly being pressured to resign after losing support from both the company’s board of directors and the German government, which is DT’s largest shareholder. … Read more

RCR goes wireless!

DENVER-Rcrnews.com and globalwirelessnews.com announce wireless delivery of news alerts. Beginning today online subscribers using Palm or Pocket PC-based devices can register to receive news updates wirelessly from either site. “In the past year, RCR has been highly focused on becoming the premiere online source for wireless news and information. I am happy today to announce that our readers now can access and receive news from rcrnews.com and globalwirelessnews.com whenever and wherever they are,” said Tina Eichner, managing editor and Web editor. “Our readers are mobile; it only makes sense that we are too. Serving our readers is our first priority,” said Tracy Ford, associate publisher and editor. … Read more

Cingular launches service in NYC

NEW YORK-The nation’s second-largest wireless operator finally launched service in the nation’s largest market as Cingular Wireless flipped the switch on its New York City network. The carrier also introduced market-specific marketing and pricing plans, including a “Preferred Network” calling plan offering service within Cingular’s GSM network and that of its roaming partners. Cingular’s service in the Big Apple is possible through its joint venture with VoiceStream Wireless Corp. … Read more

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

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