Securicor Wireless buys ComTech’s nationwide license ComTech Nationwide Communications, Sacramento, CA, has agreed to sell its five-channel 220MHz nationwide license to the New York-based Securicor Wireless subsidiary of Securicor, Sutton, England.
One of ComTech’s owners, Jerry Nelson, said that he and his partner of 14 years, Steve Muir, have sold several businesses and FCC licenses as a step toward retirement. The two own a two-way radio repair business and offer system installation and repair under the ComTech Communications name in Sacramento.
Securicor Wireless has been accumulating 220MHz spectrum for many years, including management contracts for, and purchases of, licensed systems by a company it acquired, Roamer One, and at FCC auctions in partnership with the National Rural Telecommunications Cooperative (NRTC). Securicor Wireless previously had contracted to use ComTech frequencies in some parts of the country.
“We’re acquiring as much spectrum as we can,” said George Naspo, Securicor Wireless’s executive vice president. “Between the NRTC and us, we manage or own about 60% of the 220MHz spectrum.”
A key element of Securicor Wireless’ strategy is to sell geographic chunks of its 220MHz licenses to electric utility members of NRTC that would build commercial wireless networks and sell AVL, mobile data and voice airtime service to business and industrial users.
ComTech won the nationwide 220MHz license about seven years ago when the FCC awarded it by lottery. At the same time, ComTech won some local 220MHz licenses for Sacramento, which it previously sold.
Among other assets ComTech has sold are 900MHz SMR licenses for locations in the Midwest. The company also had cellular reselling businesses in San Francisco, which it sold to WorldCom, and in Chicago, which it sold to Southwestern Bell.
Nelson said that ComTech was also in the paging business for a while.
“We had a nationwide private carrier paging license, one of the first available, issued before they went to auction. At that time, you could just file for them and get them. We sold that business to PageNet,” he said.
Nelson said that ComTech had built only a few sites and had placed only a few customers on the nationwide license’s frequencies. As of a year ago, those customers had moved to other systems. During the past year, Securicor Wireless, as a contract manager, had been the only customer.
“I’ve been in the industry all my life, including 19 years with Motorola and 14 years with Muir in ComTech,” Nelson reminisced. “We’ve been blessed.”-DB
Motorola’s DSP56311 now available in production volumes Motorola’s DSP56311 digital signal processor, with its three megabits of on-chip static RAM, is now available in production volumes. This DigitalDNA technology enables companies to build the next generation of smart networking infrastructure systems for wireless communications and Internet protocol (IP) telephony applications. To meet the needs of future services through software upgrades, these smart networks are built around programmable processors, such as the DSP56311, rather than fixed-function products. The 150MHz processor offers developers of high-density, multichannel communications and networking systems a module that provides system performance while consuming minimal power and minimal board space.
Designs based on this processor can gain as much as 50% more processing capability over previous implementations, resulting in higher channel density per DSP device, according to Motorola. As a result, a system designer could increase the number of traffic channels and improve functionality without sacrificing board space and increasing power consumption.
Because the processor is code- and footprint-compatible with other 56300 devices, the investment in legacy code and hardware board design can be preserved. With 384Kb (or 128K 24-bit words) of integrated SRAM, it can eliminate the need for external memory devices.
“The Motorola DSP-56311 has enabled Marconi to develop world-leading Gateway products,” said Linda Mawson, vice president of Intelligent Packet Networks for Marconi Communications.
Arch, PageNet to transfer licenses in merger Arch Communications Group, West-borough, MA, and Paging Network, Dallas, have announced that the FCC has approved the transfer of licenses of each company to the combined company, effectuating their previously announced merger agreement.
The FCC order also granted the companies a waiver of narrowband PCS ownership restrictions, giving the combined company 90 days after consummation of the merger to comply with the ownership rules in effect at that time. The FCC is currently considering eliminating the narrowband PCS ownership restriction in a separate proceeding.
In a joint statement, C. Edward Baker Jr., chairman of Arch, and John P. Frazee, chairman of PageNet, said: “We are pleased to receive the FCC’s support and commend the commission for its timely approval. Along with the clearance we received … from the U.S. Department of Justice, this is an important step in bringing our two companies together.”
We’re not ready yet The FCC announced, the first week of May, that the timeframe was too slim for successfully executing the 700MHz auction of 30MHz and the companion auction of 6MHz of guardband spectrum. Accordingly, the commission has postponed the auctions to run concurrently in September. The FCC based the postponement on a need for more time for bidder preparation and planning. In a letter to key congressional leaders, FCC Chairman William Kennard noted that incumbent UHF-TV broadcasters currently on that spectrum were given latitude by Congress to continue operations until 2006. “This factor makes the auction extremely complex and requires potential bidders to conduct additional analysis to provide for sound technical, operational and financial planning,” Kennard wrote. Congress had directed the FCC to auction the spectrum and have receipts deposited in the Treasury by Sept. 30. Popular estimates for the revenues to be gained from auctioning the 30MHz in the 747MHz762MHz and 777MHz-792MHz bands have ranged wildly, between $2 billion and $100 billion, with expectations that licensees will implement a variety of next-generation digital services. The 6MHz of guardband spectrum, on the other hand, licensed through guardband managers, is expected to be mainly used by traditional private land mobile services with technology comparable to, and compatible with, equipment used in the adjacent public safety frequencies. The FCC, recognizing this user base, lowered minimum bid and upfront payment requirements for the guardband to about a third of initial values in April. The new concurrent dates for the auctions, as posted on May 2, are as follows: FCC Form 175 filing deadline, Aug. 1; upfront payment deadline, Aug. 18; remote bidding software orders, Aug. 21; mock auctions, August 31. The actual actions will now begin on Sept. 6. Any previously submitted Form 175 filings have been voided, and the new windows for filings begin July 17 (for the 30MHz, Auction No. 31) and July 18 (for the guardbands, Auction No. 33).
All the eggs in one basket In April, The FCC released a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) on the assessment and collection of regulatory fees. In the NPRM, the commission proposed to revise its fee schedule to adjust the payment units and revenue requirements for each service subject to a fee. The Council of Independent Communications Suppliers (CICS) and the United States Motorola Service Stations (USMSS), commenting on the NPRM, objected to the inclusion of all “traditional” SMR operators in the CMRS Mobile Services fee category. CICS and others successfully lobbied the commission in 1999 to include all SMR systems operating with less than 10MHz bandwidth in the CMRS Messaging Services fee category. The persuasive argument at that time was that traditional SMR operators are incapable of competing with other broadband CMRS services, such as cellular and PCS, because they lack the spectrum necessary to compete with those other services. The new comments urged revision of the proposed fee schedule to reassign “traditional” SMRs from the mobile services category to the messaging service category to remain consistent with this difference.
Microwave for public safety An FCC Memorandum Opinion and Order (MOO) and NPRM concerning fixed microwave services has drawn fire from the public safety community. The microwave “valentine,” issued Feb. 14, requested comments on various options to create a licensing structure (read: auctions) for what is now Part 101 spectrum. APCO counsel Robert M. Gurss, writing in the APCO Bulletin, noted that relocations to accommodate auctions could deprive public safety of new microwave operations or require the relocation of existing facilities. Likewise, other public safety pool licensees exempt from auctions could be similarly affected.
Revenue-generating subscribers for Chadmoore Wireless Group, Las Vegas, have exceeded 40,000, an increase in 13% over the same period last year. Robert Moore, chief executive, said, “As an industry leader in providing reliable, cost-effective, one-to-many and one-to-one wireless voice communications, it is evident that Chadmoore is fulfilling a crucial communications need for businesses focusing on operations outside of their main office.” … Northwood Geoscience, Ontario, Canada, has changed its name to Northwood Technologies. The company can now be found on the Web at www.northwoodtec.com. Company President Johannes R. Hill said that the renaming of the company was a natural evolution and reflected the company’s strength as a developer of spatial information management software products.
Allgon Mobile Communications has transferred its vehicle antenna operation to Smarteq AB. Earlier this year, Smarteq acquired Carant Antenn AB, which also develops antenna products. “The divestment enables us to concentrate our resources on terminal antennas and other new areas of application within wireless communication,” said Bj”rn Berndtsson, Allgon president. … Harris, Melbourne, FL, will purchase TRT Lucent Technologies’ point-to-point microwave radio business unit. The two companies also entered into several related agreements, including a five-year preferred supplier agreement to serve the worldwide point-to-point microwave needs of Lucent’s wireless divisions. “Harris has had an extremely successful relationship as a supplier of point-to-point microwave systems to Lucent Technologies over the past several years,” said Phillip W. Farmer, chairman of Harris. “Harris is committed to the microwave business and to being the leading supplier in this marketplace.”
NK Cables, Irving, TX, and Hutton Communications of Canada, Etobicoke, Ontario, have signed a distribution agreement enabling Hutton Canada to provide the necessary support to handle the needs of the Canadian market for NK Cables, RF cable products and accessories. “NK Cables has been working to develop a market presence in Canada for the last few years and our partnership with Hut-ton Canada will allow Canadian customers the rapid access necessary,” said Larry Guyton, NK Cables distributor sales manager.
ETSI, TIA join forces for public safety Crime is growing at an ever-increasing rate, often aided and abetted by communications technology, which in many cases, is more advanced than the technology available to law enforcement. So the European Telecommunications Standardization Institute (ETSI) and the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) have agreed to launch the Public Safety Partnership Project (PSPP). The objective of this project is to cooperate in the production of technical specifications and technical reports for mobile broadband specifications for public safety.
Requirements have already been identified in both North America and Europe for the future of public safety communications. In Europe, ETSI’s Project Terrestrial Trunked Radio (TETRA) has resulted in the Digital Advanced Wireless Services (DAWS) initiative. DAWS covers IP-based broadband mobile services aimed at directing asynchronous transfer mode (ATM) port access. The TIA APCO Project 34 has initiated similar standards in North America.
To further combat high-tech crime, the European commission has created the Europol office, which is mandated to coordinate law enforcement in member states. The enforcement of the Treaty of Amsterdam has also raised the pan-European cooperation to the European Union level, and the U.S. government has empowered the Federal Bureau of Investigation to negotiate with the European Union regarding cooperation on public safety.
The PSPP plans to collaborate with regional radio spectrum regulatory authorities to obtain a common understanding concerning the demand for radio spectrum and its harmonized allocation. This collaboration is expected to transition into the standards set by ETSI and TIA.
APCO second vice president directs Bay area operations The Association of Public Safety Communications Officials-Inter-national’s (APCO) second vice president, Thera Bradshaw, is leaving her post as 9-1-1 executive director in Vancouver, WA, for a new position in the San Francisco Bay area.
Bradshaw, who has led the Clark Regional Communications Agency in Vancouver for the past 10 years, will be directing the Emergency Communications Department, City and County of San Francisco. San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown appointed Bradshaw to build and lead the new department, where she will be working closely with him and local police, fire and emergency medical service professionals.
A graduate from the University of Washington, Oregon State University and the FBI Executive Command College, Bradshaw has served as president of the National Emergency Number Association (NENA) in 1995 and as president of APCO’s Oregon chapter for two terms.
Bradshaw will be directing a new consolidated facility for police, fire and EMS.
Motorola continues to win public safety contracts Motorola’s systems are continuing to spread to public safety agencies in the Midwest. The State of Indiana has selected Motorola as the prime contractor and system integrator for a new statewide 800MHz digital voice system and a data communications system. (The technology for the data system is yet to be determined.) The systems will serve federal agencies, such as the FBI, as well as state and local public safety agencies.
“This is the most significant step forward in protecting Hoosiers in decades,” said Indiana State Police Superintendent Melvin Carraway, chairman of the Integrated Public Safety Commission (IPSC). “These new systems are an investment in Indiana’s future and a wonderful example of what happens when government and business work together to accomplish a common goal.”
The state’s selection of Motorola follows nearly three years of planning. Pilot implementation of the system will begin in areas where Project Hoosier SAFE-T demonstration grants will be awarded during the first part of the year. The IPSC will award the grants, which are funded by a combination of state and federal funds. The grants include a $2.5 million federal appropriation made this past November. The IPSC is made up of representatives from local governments and public safety agencies.
The Motorola Astro digital trunked voice system will be designed to operate in both digital and analog modes, enabling two-way radio system users to operate their existing voice radios on the new statewide backbone.
Motorola has also been selected by the Grundy County Emergency Telephone System Board (ETSB) in Illinois to supply a new countywide integrated 9-1-1 telephone and 800MHz analog trunked public safety communications system. The county and Motorola have begun specific contract negotiations for the system that ETSB officials said should be installed and online in 2001. The systems will include new 9-1-1 telephone hardware and software, communications system infrastructure, pagers, and Motorola MCS 2000 mobile and MTS 2000 portable radios.
TwitCo to conduct study on recorder, transmitter use TwitCo, New Ipswich, NH, has been awarded a contract to conduct a nationwide study of local and state law enforcement agency use of body-worn transmitters and recorders. Known as “body wires,” these devices are used to gather intelligence and evidence, as well as to enhance protection for officers in the field.
The study, funded by the National Institute of Justice through the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center in Charleston, SC (SPAWAR), will focus on local and state law enforcement use, needs and procurement of the devices. Product availability from manufacturers will be included. U.S. government agencies will use the study in determining funding for training programs and new product development.
Ron Ryan joins Hutton Communications, Dallas, as vice president, director of sales, after serving in various sales, marketing and management roles with Arrow Electronics, Melville, NY.
Roland Jacobson becomes the director of the Telecommunications Sales division of Newmar, Newport Beach, CA, after working in the telecommunications power industry for more than 30 years.
Changes at SignalSoft, Boulder, CO: Steven D. Adams departs InvisiX, Fort Worth, TX, as technical business manager to join SignalSoft as vice president of operations. Chris Murdock, director of quality assurance, moves up to vice president of quality assurance. Doug Demmel, director of North American sales, advances to vice president of sales, Americas.
Al Forsythe leaves National Car Rental Systems, Minneapolis, as director of franchise sales and development to join Hark Tower Systems, N. Charleston, SC, as sales and marketing manager.
Craig Szczutkowski, senior vice president of federal, direct and customer service business for EF Johnson, Waseca, MN, is elected as vice chairman of the Telecommunications Industry Association Private Radio Section.
David L. Hattey leaves Racom, Marshalltown, IA, as vice president, operations, to join Transcrypt International as senior vice president of design and sourcing at its EF Johnson subsidiary.
Changes at the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association, Washington: David Diggs, vice president of global marketing for CTIA subsidiary Cibernet, becomes the executive director of The Wireless Foundation. Michael Evans, executive director of The Wireless Foundation, advances to vice president, Internet operations for CTIA.
Karen Caldwell will lead Motorola Commercial, Government and Industrial Solutions Sector’s push to offer customer-focused products to the worldwide electric, natural gas, water and waste utility markets. Caldwell formerly managed New West Energy, the non-regulated marketing affiliate of Salt River Project.
Changes at Daniels & Associates, Denver: Melissa Hubbard, general counsel, advances to senior vice president. Bill Fowler, chief financial officer, also becomes senior vice president. David B. Rhodes is promoted to executive vice president.