Chadmoore looks at long-term financing, increases subscriber base Chadmoore Wireless Group, Las Vegas, has gone from “little chance of survival,” despite increasing subscriber units, to realizing a potential $10 million investment in its company.
This March, Chadmoore entered into a letter of intent with Recovery Equity Partners II, San Mateo, CA, an institutional private equity fund. Recovery is to invest as much as $10 million of equity capital into Chadmoore. Under the terms of the transaction, which remains subject to certain contingencies (including Chadmoore’s securing $10 million of debt financing), Recovery would invest $5 million initially. Recovery will also have a warrant to purchase an additional $5 million at a higher price. This warrant will be callable by Chadmoore under certain circumstances after April 1999. The company is pursuing $10 million of secured debt financing in conjunction with Recovery’s equity investment as well, with closing of the contemplated transactions expected to occur over the next several weeks.
“For the first time in its history, Chadmoore has the opportunity to put a long-term financing strategy into place,” said Robert Moore, president of Chadmoore. “As recently as six months ago, most of the industry and the financial community gave us little chance of survival.”
Chadmoore announced in February that it had surpassed 10,000 subscriber units in service on its systems.
“At this time last year, we had only a little over 2,000 units activated in four markets,” Moore said.
“…Much of 1997 was focused on initial system construction rather than marketing our service,” said Jan Zwaik, Chadmoore chief operating officer. “An FCC mandate released in May of last year reduced Chadmoore’s allocated build-out time from two years to six months. By November, we had completed initial construction in 169 markets throughout the United States.”
Chadmoore has also reached an agreement with GeoTrans Wireless, a turnkey provider of wireless engineering and construction services and a wholly-owned subsidiary of Tetra Tech. GeoTrans will assist Chadmoore with network engineering and wireless design to fully commercialize its Teamlink service for small- and medium-sized businesses in as many as 145 of its existing 168 markets.
Chadmoore has relocated its corporate headquarters to 2875 E. Patrick Lane, Suite G, Las Vegas, NV 89120.
FCC delays May 19 220MHz service auction The 220MHz auction, previously scheduled to begin May 19, 1998, will be delayed pending FCC resolution of petitions for reconsideration. The new auction date will not be announced until within five days after the commission rules on the petitions. The Wireless Telecommunications Bureau will release a Public Notice announcing key dates, procedures and terms for the 220MHz auction.
The auction will consist of 908 licenses in the Phase II 220MHz service with three nationwide licenses, 30 regional economic area groupings and 87 economic area licenses.
Exports, UHF trunking boost Uniden’s prospects “Uniden wants to increase its land mobile business revenue by 20% in 1998 and another 20% in 1999,” said Yasuhito Hara, vice president of sales for the Private Radio Communications Division of Uniden America, Fort Worth, TX. Asked how Uniden now ranks among two-way radio equipment manufacturers, Hara said that the company probably is in a close grouping for No. 3 with Kenwood Communications and Transcrypt International, with Motorola in the top spot and Ericsson in second. “We want to be in the top three or top two by 2000,” he said.
UHF portable and mobile FM two-way radio units with LTR trunking capability are expected to account for sales increases, as are units with the 12.5kHz and 15kHz channels required under spectrum refarming.
Further sales increases are expected from the division’s multisite dispatch (MSD) equipment and software. Uniden’s current trunking software provides single-site and two-site dispatch capability. With the MSD enhancement, as many as 16 sites can be networked, a feature that is expected to have worldwide appeal.
Rounding out the division’s strategy is continuing growth in export sales.
In addition, by the end of the year, the division might introduce channel-multiplying trunked system products, although the particular technology has yet to be chosen.
Hara’s ambitious sales goals contrast with Strategis Group’s estimated 5%-8% annual growth for land mobile. The growth comparison is not necessarily apples to apples because definitions of the land mobile market differ. Even so, the division will have to increase market share to achieve the desired growth.
Hara spoke at a meeting in the company’s headquarters attended by division Executive Vice President Kazuo Suzuka, Marketing Manager Glenn Gordon and Marketing Assistant Michele A. Sheriff. Participating by telephone were Sal Farina, domestic sales manager; and Jon Osler, international sales manager.
The land mobile business represents about 10% of Uniden America’s sales, with most of the remainder involving consumer electronics. With this comparison in mind, Suzuka explained why Uniden continues in two-way radio. “Because there is a market demand, and it is our responsibility to support it. It is basic radio communications, different from consumer and multimedia. It is part of the identity of Uniden. We should keep two-way radio, even as everyone else concentrates on cellular and PCS,” he said.
Hara explained that part of what helps his division to provide competitive, high-tech private radio products is the ability of the division’s own engineers to adapt research and product development conducted by 200 engineers in the company’s consumer electronics divisions in San Diego. Adapting technology developed for cellular and PCS, the private radio division can meet customer demand for miniaturization, component integration and features.
Uniden’s land mobile sales grew in the ’80s and early ’90s, in large part because small- to medium-sized SMR systems bought its LTR and ESAS trunked radio systems and units. Unfortunately, by the mid-’90s, additional growth of trunking in the United States was jeopardized by federal regulation. “We were at the mercy of FCC rulings,” Farina explained. “With the freeze on 800MHz licensing and rules that led to consolidation and acquisition of our SMR system customers, it put the brakes on a thriving marketplace.”
Uniden pursued two primary strategies during this period, one successfully (exporting), and one less successfully (220MHz products). “We have installed 7,500 trunked radio channels in mainland China,” Hara said. “That’s more than Motorola. Motorola has more market share. We have more channels.” Sheriff added: “We’ve signed a contract worth about $1.5 million with a Russian company, Scointek, for an ESAS network in Moscow.”
Osler explained that, with a few exceptions, all alliances that involve export sales through foreign companies are generated through the Dallas office. Pacific Rim countries are an exception, as is Brazil, where the private radio division has a resident representative. “We form alliances with dealers who have access to spectrum in their countries,” Osler said. “In South America, some dealers have established relationships with large SMR carriers.” He said that Beam Radio, a Miami-based distributor, handles many of the small Latin American dealers.
To put Uniden’s export business in perspective, Hara said that the company has about 3,000 to 4,000 ESAS and earlier LTR channels in the United States, and about 10,000 ESAS channels worldwide, including the United States.
Uniden’s other strategy for the mid-’90s, selling narrowband ESAS systems to 220MHz SMR operators, fizzled. Many speculators with no intention of building systems obtained licenses, forestalling construction until they might find buyers and making product sales forecasts highly uncertain. Some serious operators emerged, but without prospects for purchases in the quantities, Uniden needed to justify making 220MHz equipment. For example, an executive with one 220MHz network operator, Torrance, CA-based RoameR One, recalled that Uniden wanted an order for 38,000 mobiles to guarantee product support. “If we weren’t willing, they weren’t willing,” said David Niebert, at the time RoameR One’s president. Uniden subsequently discontinued its 220MHz product line, although it retains the “transparent tone-in-band” (TTIB) technology developed for narrowband ESAS trunking.
The TTIB technology, which uses narrowband modulation to place five channels in the spectrum occupied by a single 25kHz FM channel, might be pressed into service if Uniden’s private radio division decides to field products to compete with capacity-multiplying trunking technologies. Current examples include Motorola’s time-division multiple-access (TDMA) product, integrated digital enhanced network (IDEN), used by Nextel Communications and others; and Intek’s advanced digital network trunking (ADNT) with linear modulation, used by RoameR. ComSpace’s dynamic channel multiple-access (DCMA) system has reached the prototype stage.
“Uniden Research in San Diego has GSM ready to go,” Hara said. “We completed TTIB in 1994. Thus, our division has a choice of research.” Maybe this year, he said, Uniden will reach a conclusion and emphasize a particular direction for the next-generation trunking equipment with expanded capacity.
IFR Systems acquires Marconi Instruments Ltd. IFR Systems, Wichita, KS, has acquired Marconi Instruments, Ltd., Stevenage, England, along with all of its worldwide subsidiaries from the General Electric Company plc, London, for $107 million in cash. Marconi Instruments, Inc., Fort Worth, TX, the U.S. subsidiary of Marconi Instruments, employs about 35 people and has annual sales in the United States of $24 million.
IFR Systems will merge Marconi Instruments’ business with IFR’s existing RF Division to form a larger test instruments division. Marconi Instruments, with trailing 12-month revenue in excess of $110 million, designs and manufactures test and measurement equipment.
On Target Mapping relocates On Target Mapping has moved to a new facility in Monroeville, PA (a suburb of Pittsburgh) to accommodate growth and to serve customers.
On Target’s toll-free number, Web and email addresses remain unchanged. The new address is: On Target Mapping, 300 Oxford Drive, Suite 350, Monroeville, PA 15146, 412-372-2399, fax 412-372-2307.
Dataradio courts resellers to increase distribution of products Dataradio has started a new program that will increase the distribution of the company’s products throughout the United States. Dubbed the Certified Select System Integrator (CSSI) program, Dataradio’s new reseller structure will enable traditional land mobile equipment resellers to market and implement complete mobile computing systems.
Through CSSI, Dataradio will appoint resellers who will operate in specific territories in the United States. Each prospective reseller will undergo training under the supervision of Dataradio sales and engineering personnel. Training will include classroom technical and sales instruction, as well as hands-on hardware field integration.
CSSI resellers will enter into a partnership with Dataradio. The resellers will be given access to Dataradio partners in software and other products. Dataradio will also provide timely notification about new innovations in mobile data technology.
The best candidates for admission into the CSSI program will be radio communications sales and service companies that are interested in investing in the rapidly growing wireless computing network industry.
American Mobile Satellite acquires Motorola’s ARDIS American Mobile Satellite, Reston, VA, will acquire Motorola’s ARDIS data messaging business, which owns and operates a two-way wireless data communications network. When the acquisition is complete, American Mobile will become one of the country’s largest providers of mobile data services to the transportation and field services industries, as well as others that rely heavily on mobile communications. The American Mobile network will offer combined satellite/terrestrial data capability for routing of data messaging. The transaction is contingent on government approvals and is expected to be completed during the first quarter of 1998.
American Mobile and Motorola have partnered in the past, with American Mobile’s multimode messaging service employing the ARDIS network as one of its transmission pathways.
“Our customers have long told us the most important attributes of a wireless service provider are coverage and breadth of product offerings,” said Walt Purnell, president of ARDIS. “The integration of ARDIS with American Mobile, while providing both voice and data solutions, also enables the joint entity to become the 100% coverage company.”
ARDIS has also announced that Sears, Roebuck and Co. has signed a three-year contract extension for ARDIS network services. Extending to the year 2001, ARDI will continue providing airtime for the 7,000 Sears Repair Services technicians operating on the ARDIS network.
In 1997, Sears Repair Services added satellite coverage from Norcom Networks to its wireless field service applications. Norcom resells satellite coverage from American Mobile. Through land and satellite, Sears has increased its coverage across the United States.
Federal government shares frequencies with Wisconsin The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), working with the Department of Defense, signed an agreement in March authorizing the state of Wisconsin to use federal radio frequencies to test a shared land mobile trunking communications system. The system will facilitate communications during emergencies as well as during day-to-day communications.
NTIA is a policy unit of the U.S. Department of Commerce. “The ability to communicate between levels of government has been a tremendous challenge in the past, only overcome on an ad hoc basis in the midst of an emergency,” said Larry Irving, assistant secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information. The pilot trunked radio system will allow the state of Wisconsin to work with federal, state and local officials to provide law enforcement protection and emergency management services. State and local officials will use the system to provide local and routine services involving law enforcement, fire services, emergency medical services, hazardous materials control, corrections administration, forestry management and highway safety services. A number of land mobile systems operated by federal agencies or by state and local governments around the country provide communications during emergencies. The Wisconsin pilot project will, however, be a system that provides shared services on a day-to-day basis.
The principal Federal sponsor in the Wisconsin pilot system, the Department of Defense, is working with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation to provide resources to develop the system.
The project will operate on frequencies in the 138MHz-150.8MHz range, currently assigned to the U.S. Army. The pilot system will use narrowband technology and will be capable of providing radio communications services in a digital mode. The agreement expires July 1, 2001.
ITA, USMSS form alliance for coordination, conference enhancement, FCC representation The Industrial Telecommunications Association and USMSS have formed an alliance of their organizations and memberships. The alliance will provide the USMSS membership with the opportunity to coordinate their communications regulatory efforts in cooperation with ITA. ITA and USMSS will also convene a joint annual conference every fall that will provide a forum for the exchange and presentation of wireless communications regulatory issues, business enhancement processes, radio technology advancements and busi ness opportunities in telecommunications.
“Through this affiliation, ITA has significantly enhanced its radio dealer associate membership roster,” said Mark E. Crosby, ITA president. “We look forward to enhancing USMSS’ representational effectiveness to provide these members with educational materials, such as publications, papers, technical data and other information services.”
ITA will represent the USMSS membership before the FCC and the U.S. Congress. The USMSS board of directors will vote on advocacy positions. USMSS will be a distinct market council of ITA, and its members will become associate members of ITA.
News notes Montvale, NJ-based Geotek Communications’ chairman, Yaron Eitan, said that “for companies with fleets, the last frontier of productivity and performance is the field.” In response, the company is launching “Workpower for the Road,” which merges several product lines into a single system to give mobile workers “real-time intelligence, empowering them with productivity tools and relieving stress and fatigue.”
Lots of news from Intek Diversified, Princeton, NJ: The company changed its name to Intek Global. Its RoameR One subsidiary will consolidate 2,900 subscriber accounts and 220MHz systems from Wireless Plus, Hayward, CA, which it acquired. Intek chairman Robert J. Shiver said the company’s linear modulation technology “already surpasses” the Europe-wide Narrowband Specification released for comment by the European Telecommunications Standard Institute’s Technical Committee. One of Intek subsidiary
Midland USA’s dealers, Clark Data Systems, Blackfoot, ID, is set to install a high-speed data and voice network on public safety 220MHz spectrum to serve the Bingham County, ID, Public Safety Department. Dealership co-owner Roger Clark said that the public safety sector “now has a wider selection of alternative technologies to meet a growing need for high-speed mobile data systems.” Midland is prepared to assist entrepreneurs with the pending FCC auction of 220MHz licenses; access the company’s auction hotline by calling 800-669-5549. “This is probably the first opportunity small business has had in these auctions to date,” said Mike Bayly, Midland’s marketing director…”We chose to install a mobile data system primarily to fulfill part of the municipality’s long-range plan to help improve officer safety, productivity and efficiency,” said Lt. Jack McCrory of the Penn Hills Police Department, commenting on the Pennsylvania city agency’s rollout of a wireless data communications system that includes Stamford, CT-based Software Corporation’s Premier MDT software and the use of AT&T Wireless’ cellular digital packet data network. … “No cohesive emergency response system currently exists in Allegheny County, PA, and the equipment is over 10 years old,” said the county’s deputy chief of emergency services, Brad Magill, in explaining why the county has selected CML Technologies,Atlanta, and Sprint to supply $2.8 million worth of equipment for a county-wide enhanced 9-1-1 network.
Transcrypt International, Lincoln, NE, has begun construction to add 33,000 square feet to its existing 40,000-square-foot headquarters building. The company sold $1.5 million worth of wide-area LTR trunked radio equipment to Denver, CO-based Centennial Communications for use with radio systems it operates in South America. “Latin America’s wireless communications needs are continuing to grow,” said Transcrypt vice president
Joel Young. Young also said that SEA, Mountlake Terrace, WA, has licensed Trans-crypt’s LTR-Net protocol and intends to use the protocol with its 220MHz portable and mobile radios. “The protocol offers a broad set of valuable features,” said SEA president David Thompson.
Thompson and his customers, meanwhile, expressed enthusiasm for the FCC’s planned 220MHz auction. “We have been waiting for some time to get this radio service going again,” he said. The president of SEA’s largest SMR (with more than 4,000 SEA units), Gene Clothier of Incom Communications, Irvine, CA, said that ICC “is relieved that the auction is finally happening.”
Phil Adler, chief executive of SEA dealer PCS Communications, said: “The 220MHz auctions represent an excellent business opportunity for two-way radio dealers.”
SiteSafe, Arlington, VA (703-558-0511), assists communications providers in complying with FCC regulations regarding human exposure to radio-frequency electromagnetic fields. The new firm is a collaboration of Biby Engineering Services; Lukas, N ace, Gutierrez & Sachs; and Thomas E. Lusk. … Bullhead City, AZ-based Mr. Radio of Arizona uses the Mega Switch made by Hark Systems, Summerville, SC, to allow radio customers to dial locally on their SMR and paging systems to place long-distance calls within Arizona, California and Nevada. “We use the switch for least-cost routing on our SMR system, which allows us to perform least-cost routing for our own microwave system within the tri-state area,” said Eric B. DeWitt, general manager of Mr. Radio.
Spotsylvania County, VA, has contracted Ericsson Private Radio Systems, Lynchburg, VA, for an 800MHz trunked radio system worth $4.2 million. “The county is currently using a low-band conventional system and needs to upgrade,” said Doug Walker, deputy county administrator. Hampton, VA, meanwhile, named Ericsson and bonding agent Federal Insurance in a $7.5 million lawsuit involving an 800MHz trunked system installed in 1993 that the city claims does not work acceptably. Four Kansas City, MO, firefighters have sued Ericsson, consultant SFA and homeowner Lonnie Bond because they allege their radios did not work when they were inside Bond’s house to fight a fire, according to Dispatch Monthly.
The firefighters jumped out of a window when their radio calls for help were unheard by other firefighters outside the home. For $1 million, Virginia’s new prison in Sussex county bought an Ericsson three-channel 800MHz system that has been installed, tested and accepted. Speaking about the acceptance testing, Ericsson systems engineer
Matt Twiggs said: “I had a prison official lock me in a metal, walk-in freezer in the middle of a concrete building. I made and received calls on an LPE 200 radio, and was told the audio was crystal clear on all radios.” Another Ericsson contract includes a $10.4 million digital access system for Bell County, TX. “Several cities within the county wanted to upgrade their communications,” said county communications director Dan Engler.
Among several reasons for choosing Motorola’s HDT handheld data computer, “The drivers involved in the selection process preferred the terminal’s large graphical display and full alphanumeric keyboard,” said Tom Zywicki, director of system development for Airborne Express. A pilot mobile data system is set for installation in the fall for use by 150 Airborne drivers in St. Louis.