Motorola earnings rocket in first quarter

Motorola announced net earnings for first-quarter 2004 of $609 million — 25 cents per share — on sales of $8.6 billion. Earnings improved by 257% year over year, from $169 million, while sales improved by 42% from $6.0 billion.

Motorola's Commercial, Government and Industrial Solutions segment posted operating earnings of $178 million, triple the $62 million reported for the year-ago quarter. First-quarter sales for CGIS totaled $1 billion, an 18% increase over first-quarter 2003. The segment also announced a multi-year contract worth $151 million from the State of Victoria, Australia, for an emergency services digital radio network, as well as a contract from the South Africa Police to deploy a TETRA system in the Province of Gauteng.

In other news, Motorola announced that seven Scottish police departments have chosen its MTH800 TETRA “hand-portable terminal” for use on the United Kingdom's Airwave public-safety communications network. In addition, four police departments in England — Kent Police, Northamptonshire Police, Norfolk Constabulary and the London-based Metropolitan Police Service — also will deploy the MTH800. To date, 11 of 12 U.K. police departments that have awarded hand-portable contracts this year have selected the MTH800, Motorola said.

Texas police select MDS mobile data solution

The Portland, Texas, police department will deploy a mobile data communications network developed by Microwave Data Systems, the company announced. MDS iNET 900 radios will be installed in police vehicles to connect officers to the city's communications network.

Once deployed, the network will enable officers to remotely submit reports and access the department's computer-aided dispatch and records management systems. It offers multiple levels of security — including encryption and key rotation to prevent eavesdropping and unauthorized network access — data throughput ranging from 256 kb/s to 512 kb/s and long-range coverage, according to the company.

The Portland police department was seeking an alternative to CDPD and other cellular solutions, said Detective Terrell Elliott, in a statement. “Like most small cities in Texas, as well as Oklahoma and New Mexico, we needed a solution that works in a rural area that's not connected by cell towers,” Elliott said. “This solution provides the access and coverage with minimal infrastructure, and no recurring costs.”

50 million dual-mode Wi-Fi handsets expected by 2009

More than 50 million dual-mode handsets enabling users to talk over a cellular network or hold conversations using voice-over-Wi-Fi technology will be shipped by 2009, and enterprise employees are expected to be the primary target market, according to report from ABI Research.

Combined with a Wi-Fi network that is connected to an enterprise's PBX, such handsets will allow mobile workers to continue using their cell phones when in range of the enterprise Wi-Fi network.

“As Wi-Fi networks proliferate, it only makes sense to give users the ability to switch from the cellular carrier's network to the enterprise Wi-Fi network,” said Phil Solis, ABI Research's senior Wi-Fi analyst, in a statement.

New Orleans selects Tropos Networks for Wi-Fi

The city of New Orleans has selected Tropos Networks to supply metro-scale Wi-Fi equipment for a citywide wireless video-surveillance network that will be deployed by Southern Electronics.

The Tropos Wi-Fi network will operate in areas where video-surveillance cameras lack access to the city's wired network and will enable police officers to view surveillance-camera video while in the field.

FCC adopts new RFID rules

The Federal Communications Commission issued an order that clears the way for the use of improved radio frequency identification (RFID) systems in conjunction with commercial shipping containers. The order increases the maximum signal level permitted for RFID systems operating in the 433.5 to 434.5 MHz band, which the FCC said would result in “more reliable transmissions with greater range” than allowed by the previous rules.

The FCC said the new rules would result in improved security at ports, rail yards and warehouses by enabling RFID users to more rapidly inventory their shipments and determine whether the contents had been tampered.

In other RFID-related news, several key manufacturers and technology providers announced they are submitting a protocol definition designed to provide a much-anticipated worldwide standard for radio frequency identification (RFID) known as EPC UHF Generation 2.

Although RFID technology is going to be required of suppliers to the U.S. Department of Defense and top retailers such as Wal-Mart, the lack of a global standard in the nascent technology has made some suppliers hesitant about investing heavily in RFID. Companies supporting the new protocol include Royal Philips Electronics, Texas Instruments, Impinj, SAMSys Technologies, Q.E.D. Systems, UPM Rafsec and Intermec Technologies.

EFJohnson receives $4 million Air Force order

EFJohnson has received a $4 million order from the United States Air Force to provide mobile and portable radios for multiple installations.

EFJohnson's 5100 series Project 25 portable radios are being deployed by the Air Force to meet National Telecommunications and Information Administration mandated narrowband standards and expanded operational requirements. The order is scheduled to be shipped this quarter.

In other news, EFJohnson announced it has received a $943,000 order to provide its Project 25-compliant Netelligent Infrastructure System to a federal agency replacing an analog system. The system is scheduled to be shipped during the second quarter.

APCO criticizes VoIP legislation

The Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials International urged Congress to amend legislation introduced by Sens. John Sununu, R-N.H., and Chip Pickering, R-Miss., that would largely keep voice-over-Internet protocol services unregulated. While acknowledging VoIP's promise, APCO is concerned that rapid deployment of VoIP services would have a “serious, negative effect” on the provisioning of 911 emergency communications nationwide.

APCO called on Congress to grant the FCC the authority to require VoIP service providers to provide enhanced 911 to all of their customers. Currently, the legislation only authorizes the FCC to facilitate voluntary standards governing the provisioning of 911 services, according to APCO.

“Those who choose not to comply with the voluntary standards would only be required to provide disclaimers to customers before they acquire the VoIP service,” said APCO President Vincent Stile in a letter to Sununu and Pickering.

Report: Machine-to-machine sector growth will accelerate

While the market for cellular handsets is expected to grow by 10 percent annually through the end of this decade, the market for machine-to-machine modules will increase by 40% annually through 2010, according to new data published by ABI Research. The firm reported that sales would accelerate as enterprises turn to the technology to remotely monitor their assets.

CTIA's Largent to keynote RCA awards banquet

The Radio Club of America announced that Steve Largent, president and CEO of the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association, would deliver the keynote address at RCA's 95th Anniversary Awards Banquet. The event is scheduled for Nov. 19 at the New York Athletic Club in New York City. After enjoying a 14-year career with the National Football League's Seattle Seahawks that led to his induction into the Professional Football Hall of Fame, Largent served seven years in the U.S. House of Representatives. More information on the banquet can be obtained by visiting www.radio-club-of-america.org.

In other news, RCA announced it would hold its first annual Spring Gathering on the West Coast, at the Doubletree Hotel in Ontario, Calif., on May 12. Marty Cooper, who served Motorola in a variety of senior leadership positions — including director of research and development — from 1954 to 1983 and who led the team that developed the first portable cellular telephone, is scheduled to be the featured speaker.

Anritsu names Tiernan president of U.S. subsidiary

Anritsu Corp. has named Frank Tiernan president of Anritsu Co., its U.S. subsidiary. Tiernan also was appointed vice president of the parent company. Tiernan was cited for the success of Anritsu's Microwave Measurement Division, where he served as general manager. Prior to that experience, Tiernan served the division in a variety of management positions, including director of research and development, director of corporate services and director of manufacturing.

Nokia TETRA system selected for Paris airports

All civil airports within a 50-kilometer radius of Paris will use Nokia's digital TETRA system for ground-service communications, replacing the previous analog system used at the Charles de Gaulle, Orly, Roissy and le Bourget airports.

ADP Telecom, which provides secure IT and telephony services for Paris airports, has more than 3000 personnel who will use the professional mobile radio system, including public-safety, security, airlines, car-rental and French public-administration agency employees.