First 900MHz wide-area network launches in Iowa Electronic Engineering of Des Moines, IA, launched the first commercial, 900MHz wide-area network in Iowa in October 1998. The system, designed over a two-year period, was completely operational at the time of the public announcement and offer of service.
The Star 900 network covers most of Iowa. The footprint extends into eastern Nebraska, providing two-way service from Des Moines to Lincoln, NE. The system is based on a 900MHz E.F. Johnson LTR-Net backbone from Transcrypt/E.F. Johnson. The association with Johnson equipment is a shift for Electronic Engineering, which has been predominantly associated with Motorola for two-way radio and paging sales and support for more than 50 years.
“This relationship is certainly a departure from what we’ve done in the past,” said E.E. President Mark Clark.
Transcrypt chairman John T. Connor was present for the launch announcement. He said that Transcrypt/EFJ, which both consulted on the network design and supplied equipment, was “pleased and proud to launch this first system in Iowa with Electronic Engineering because of their technical expertise and reputation for high-quality service.” Clark said the network was a response to the needs of customers with geographic needs beyond single-site coverage.
CONGRESS AND PRIVATE WIRELESS-Industrial Telecommunications Association President Mark Crosby (left) hosts a congressional policy forum with Mark J. Ashby (center), counsel to Sen. John Breaux (D-LA) and Andrew W. Levin, U.S. House Commerce Committee Democratic counsel, at ITA’s annual meeting in Washington, Oct. 29, 1998. The panelists discussed FCC misinterpretation of Congressional intent regarding expanded auction authority and that any auctioning of private wireless spectrum would exceed that authority.
Vermont installs digital E9-1-1 network Vermont is the first state to use an all- digital, statewide network for public safety emergency response calls, after installing eight Lucent Technologies digital systems to handle E9-1-1 calls. Lucent Public Safety Systems, a venture of Lucent located in Lisle, IL, worked closely with Bell Atlantic to complete the installation of the E9-1-1 systems under a $7.4 million contract from the state. The digital systems, or public safety answering points (PSAP), allow 9-1-1 call takers to receive emergency calls, obtain the caller’s name, location and problem and then alert the proper fire, police or EMS in the caller’s local area.
The system is designed to decrease call set-up times from about 10 seconds to less than two seconds.
The Vermont E9-1-1 network now includes eight new calling centers: one large PSAP center in Williston and seven smaller centers in Rutland, Springfield, Hartford, Lamoille County, St. Albans, Shelburne and Montpelier. Each PSAP workstation integrates voice and data information to make routing operations faster and simpler.
AMTEX 98 addresses industry’s critical issues, problems More than 150 attendees at November’s AMTEX ’98 in Miami Beach were reminded that the only constant in the mobile communication industry is change. The conference focused on current trends in the regulatory landscape, increased competition, spectrum issues and new technology.
Steve Virostek presented The Strategis Group’s preliminary findings on the latest SMR industry survey. Latest results predicted continued growth in the SMR industry, 900MHz, 220MHz and 450MHz trunking. Virostek reported that heightened distribution and consumer awareness, as well as lower airtime prices, are spurring competition and subscriber growth. One long-term implication for the industry in the absence of spectrum allocation is the need to implement capacity-enhancing technology.
Attendees at the 450MHz trunking session discussed problems caused by the lack of spectrum exclusivity and ways to find a temporary solution until a permanent one can be implemented. The session was moderated by Ralph Haller of Fox Ridge Communications. Panelists included Bart Fisher of Fisher Communications, Rhett Grotzinger of Trident Micro Systems, Craig Johnson of Smartlink, John Osler of Uniden and John Sullivan of SmarTrunk Systems.
Sessions offered coverage of some of the industry’s critical issues: 900MHz interference, 450MHz trunking, interference, tower issues, Y2K and a post-auction wrap-up. Attendees were briefed on a variety of regulatory issues, including number portablility, universal service, CALEA, the 800MHz auction, Goodman/Chan and refarming.
Twenty-nine, a record number of exhibitors, were present at this year’s AMTEX. ComSpace discussed its DCMA digital technology. The conference was held in conjunction with IMTA’s International Congress on Trunked Radio.
TEXAS FREQUENCY RANGERS-Texas public safety communications, emergency number and records management professionals met in Lubbock, TX, in October 1998, for a combined TX APCO-NENA-TCJIUG conference and exhibition. The conference drew about 400 attendees and more than 40 exhibitors.
LCC, Allen Telecom terminate agreement LCC International, McLean, VA, and Allen Telecom, Beachwood, OH, have mutually agreed, in writing, not to proceed with the previously announced transaction for LCC to exchange its test and measurement equipment and related software analysis tools business for engineering, software and consulting business of Allen Telecom’s Comsearch division.
Rajendra Singh, interim chief executive officer of LCC, said, “During the due diligence period, both parties re-evaluated the strategic nature of their respective businesses.”
Singh said that LCC’s Hardware Products group had been through a “tough period” due to sales and profitability. “We will realign the Hardware Products organizations along with the rest of our company in light of changing market conditions, and I am convinced that we will restore the entire company’s profitability to the levels that I and other shareholders expect,” he said. Robert G. Paul, president of Allen Telecom said, “Both Allen Telecom and LCC International devoted a significant amount of effort in pursuit of an agreement. However, we came to the judgment that our shareholders would be better served by retaining our Comsearch business ..”
220MHz auction closes; $21.6 million raised The Federal Communications Com-mission’s 220MHz-service auction closed on Oct. 22, 1998, after 173 rounds raising $21,650,301 in net high bids. The auction, which began on Sept. 1, 1998, represents the FCC’s 17th auction.
“The commission’s flexible rules for the 220MHz service will allow companies to provide whatever voice, data or fixed communications services they believe will serve the needs of consumers in their area. This could include services such as dispatch or paging,” said Chairman William Kennard. “This auction has been a prime example of what the commission’s auctions are all about. New and existing players have had a chance to quickly acquire licenses and take their place in the telecommunications marketplace of tomorrow.”
Small businesses won a significant amount of the licenses sold at the auction, according to the FCC. Companies claiming small business status won: 67% of the Regional Economic Area Group licenses, 54% of the Economic Area licenses and one of the three nationwide licenses. Twenty-five licenses were sold to entities claiming women-owned status, and those claiming minority-owned status won 21 licenses.
Of 908 licenses simultaneously auctioned in three different-sized geographic areas: three are nationwide licenses, each authorized to use 100kHz, paired, of bandwidth; 30 are Regional Economic Area Group licenses (five licenses in each of the six regional economic areas) each authorized to use 155kHz, paired, of bandwidth; and 875 economic area licenses (five licenses in each of the 175 economic areas) each authorized to use 100kHz, paired, of bandwidth. This auction represents Phase II of the licensing of this band. Phase I licensing was conducted by lotteries in 1992 and 1993.
Of the 908 licenses auctioned, 693 were sold. A reauction of unsold licenses is likely to take place in the second quarter of 1999. Details of the 220MHz reauction will appear in a future Wireless Telecommunications Bureau notice.
Larsen Electronics changes name Larsen Electronics, Vancouver, WA, has announced plans to become Larsen Antenna Technologies. This change reflects Larsen’s focus on antenna design for a wide array of wireless applications.
The company’s Canadian subsidiary will be known as Larsen Antenna Technologies-Canada, Ltd. Located in Burnaby, British Columbia, this division serves all Canadian provinces and the Pacific Rim.
Monarch Capital invests in ACT Monarch Capital Partners has signed a deal to invest $3 million in Advanced Charger Technology (ACT). The Norcross, GA-based ACT currently manufactures battery chargers but is transitioning its focus to embedding its patented battery management technologies into all types of rechargeable devices from power tools to wireless telephones. Monarch Capital Partners specializes in early-stage to mid-stage venture capital investments and plans to invest $30 million in emerging Internet, telecommunications, software, high-tech and biotech companies in the Southeast.
Motorola, Daniels enter license agreement Motorola’s Commercial, Government and Industrial Solutions Sector and Daniels Electronics of Victoria, British Columbia, have announced a new agreement in which Motorola will license to Daniels selected digital communications technologies compliant with the Project 25 digital standard for public safety communications systems. The agreement enhances Motorola’s original licensing agreement of Project 25-compatible technologies to Daniels that was announced in 1996.
Daniels will use the Motorola technologies to enhance and broaden its existing product line to include Project 25-compliant modular base stations, repeaters and transportable radio systems.
According to company president Terry Daniels, the agreement will have immediate benefits for Daniels’ customers.
FCC Notes Chief of staff steps down John Nakahata, chief of staff to FCC chairman William Kennard, left the agency late last fall. Nakahata said that he wanted to spend more time with his family.
Prior to becoming chief of staff last November, Nakahata served as legal adviser and senior legal adviser to then-chairman Reed E. Hundt. Nakahata had been a key adviser on challenging issues facing the FCC. Following enactment of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, Nakahata was a principal architect of the commission’s “trilogy” of interconnection, universal service and access reform decision. He led the negotiations that formed the foundation for the Universal Service Order. Nakahata said that he had not yet set any future plans.
FCC forms third joint agreement The FCC has signed the latest in a series of Memorandums of Understanding (MOU) with private industry regarding the resolution of interference complaints. This agreement was coordinated by the FCC’s Compliance and Information Bureau (CIB), working in conjunction with the FCC Wireless Telecommunications Bureau and the Association of American Railroads (AAR). The main objective is to facilitate the commission-certified frequency advisory committee’s (FAC) work in concert with CIB to protect the technical and regulatory integrity of radio communications. This is the third such agreement between the commission and industry designed to streamline the commission’s compliance and enforcement processes regarding interference complaints on communication frequencies formerly used by the Railroad Radio Service.
Commission denies relief petition James A. Kay, licensee of 152 Part 90 Licenses in the Los Angeles area, filed a petition for extraordinary relief that was denied by the FCC. The commission had received numerous complaints about Kay’s operations. Following further proceedings, a summary decision revoked Kay’s licenses and ordered Kay to pay a $75,000 fine. The decision was vacated, and the proceeding was remanded for a hearing. Kay argued that the hearing should not go forward because of alleged improprieties by the bureau during the pre-designation phase of this proceeding. Kay asserted that those actions deprived him of due process and filed a petition in June 1998. It was taken into consideration and denied. However, a new administrative law judge has been appointed to the case because of disagreements that arose between the former judge and Kay’s legal counsel.
News Notes Coded Communications, Carlsbad, CA, announced an agreement to acquire Boston-based NetCore Technologies, an international provider of remote network management and desktop support services. Under the terms of the agreement, NetCore will exchange all of its assets, liabilities, technologies and licenses for shares of Coded common stock. Brian Williams, president of NetCore Technologies will become chief operating officer for Coded Communications. Steve Stevenson, founder and chairman on NetCore will serve as Coded’s interim president.
Williams said, “The potential for expanding and integrating Coded’s extensive mobile networking experience and wireless products with NetCore’s value-added applications and network management services is nearly limitless.”
Intek Global, Princeton, NJ, sold non-core, UK-based land mobile radio equipment distribution and maintenance assets to Securicor Information Systems (SIS), a subsidiary of Securicor plc. SIS will act as a major UK and European distributor of Intek Global’s LM products to capitalize on the rapidly growing move in both markets to narrowband transmission.
Robert J. Shiver, Intek Global chairman, said, “This is another important step in our continuing effort to focus Intek Global’s future on the commercialization of our valuable spectrum-efficient LM technology and the offering of superior data and voice capabilities to the booming worldwide wireless communications industry. In addition to providing Intek Global with a capital infusion, the sale enabled us to divest assets that did not fit into the Intek Global strategy.”
Chadmoore Wireless Group, Las Vegas, achieved record revenues for the three-month period that ended Sept. 30, 1998. Chadmoore is also loading its SMR services in 82 markets. Revenues were up 112% from the same three-month period in the previous year.
Chairman Robert Moore said, “As the second-largest holder of frequencies in the United States in the 800MHz band for commercial SMR service, we have been in a unique position during the past few years to identify and take advantage of major changes in this segment of the wireless business. We are providing a marketing focus to a business previously dominated by companies more comfortable with technology than with selling, and with so many channels we are adding efficiencies not previously available to small operators.”
Under an agreement with Iridium North America, PageNet will be the exclusive wireless messaging provider to distribute Iridium global satellite paging services in the United States.
Douglas R. Ritter, senior vice president of corporate development for PageNet said, “Iridium wireless messaging users will be the first to realize the power of true global access, at a level that leaps ahead of any mobile communication alternative today.”
Jim Walz, president of Iridium North America, added, “With its distribution network and its standard for service, PageNet is in the best position among wireless messaging providers to build the market for Iridium paging services in the United States.”