The lives and times of MRT
In celebration of Mobile Radio Technology's 15 years as land mobile radio's premier technical publication, come take a stroll back through the history of the magazine and the industry it serves.
What is in this article?
- FleetCall's ambitious project to roll out ESMR starts to unravel. (Long-time SMR operators find it a bit too ambitious.)
- In-building communications systems, an offshoot of the PCS technology, are expected to be $2.1 billion market by 1997.
- 200MHz reallocation rears its ugly head again as bills are again reintroduced in both the House and the Senate.
- FleetCall is still threatening to build ESMR.
- Technology is taking its toll on equipment. Serviceability is the number-one issue for technicians on new equipment. They cite surface-mount technology; large-scale integrated devices and embedded components as the culprits.
- For the first time, the SMR industry growth rate is slowing, adding fuel to the argument that SMR has a limited future.
- The UHF channels 14 and 69 and LMR interference issue is addressed by FCC MM Docket No. 87-465. No one is happy, and Motorola immediately files a petition for reconsideration.
- Allen Group buys Alliance Telecommunications, parent organization of three major industry players: Decibel products, Comsearch, and db Mobile.
- Relm and Adage merge.
- GPS-based AVL, married to digital mobile data terminals, forms the footprint for accurate, affordable AVL. (Finally!)
- The number of paging users hits 12 million.
- Cellular data rates achieve 19,200bps, and "packet" radio comes on line.
- ERMES is considered as a next-generation paging code.
- There are now more than 8.5 million cellular subscribers in the United States.
- First rumblings about digital cellular phones are heard.
- ACT finally offers multiple testing sites, continuous testing and immediate results.
- SIRSA changes its name to Industrial Telecommunications Association (ITA). (One needs a scorecard just to keep up with the players.)
- SMR operators breathe a sigh of relief because they no longer have to license end-users.(Whew!)
- 220MHz lies silent, waiting for private radio users. (Hmmm.)
- ESMR (now digital SMR) is still controversial, especially the effect short-spacing will have on signal overlap. ESMR is touted as offering a challenge to cellular.
- FleetCall and DisCom merge SMR operations.
- Projected growth in analog SMR is predicted to stay level, while digital SMR is predicted to increase significantly. By 1995, the industry will be adding more digital units per year than analog units according to EMCI, a Washington DC-based consulting firm.
- Telocator predicts 23 million PCS subscribers by 1997. (Hmmm again.)
- Emergency Medical Radio Service (EMRS) is approved by the FCC.
- Consumers worry that the 900MHz frequencies that cellular phones radiate a few inches from our heads will cook our brains. (Yeah, right, like 60Hz power lines have, for years, been blamed for everything from hemorrhoids to schizophrenia.)
- Pagers are ubiquitous in retail and discount stores. Mobile Comm and McCaw see a gold mine and join forces to cover major metropolitan areas.
- The first high-accuracy GPS is deployed in Los Angeles. Pinpoint, a joint venture Magnavox and CUE Network, provides accuracy to within a few feet using both satellite navigation and local FM stations.
- E.F. Johnson celebrates 70 years in the industry.
- FleetCall changes its name to Nextel Communications.
- Robert H. Schwaninger Jr. joins MRT as its regulatory consultant and columnist (Riots occur-at the FCC.)
- Mtel receives the first final Pioneers Preference for a PCS system in the U.S.
- The first commercial 220MHz trunking system is activated in Houston.
- If you don't use the word "wireless" at cocktail receptions, in business jargon and in everyday conversation, you're not hip. (It's a wireless radio-as opposed to the previous kind.)
- Congress finally passes legislation to eliminate lotteries and let the FCC auction spectrum instead. (It's hoped that this will take the dentists, accountants and Harvard MBAs cartels out of the two-way radio business-but will it?)
- SCL purchases Midland International.
- The FCC collects user and filing fees.
- ITA asks the FCC to institute a program to certify technicians. (Why?)
- CenCall starts buying Motorola 800MHz SMR properties.
- U.S. West sells its paging operation.
- During the next 10 years, intelligent vehicle highway systems (IVHS) will become one of the fastest-growing and most lucrative areas of the telecommunications industry (writes Robert H. Schwaninger Jr.).
- Telocator is now officially PCIA.
- MCI buys a 20% stake in Nextel.
- Industry pundits predict 4.4 million SMR subscribers by 1998.
- CDMA (code-division multiple-access technology) is being taken seriously.
- 220MHz narrowband SMR is finally a reality.
- The first FCC PCS license auction nets $6.17 billion (on paper).
- PCIA and NABER merge; new life is breathed into PCIA.
- Frequency coordination is again under scrutiny.
- Dial Page and Nextel marry; Nextel, Comcast and MCI divorce.
- 800MHz generates more excitement as the FCC freezes new licenses and rumors of dismissal of pending licenses abound.
- SMR WON is formed.
- The U.S. Court of Appeals strikes down the FCC fines and assessments policy. (There is dancing in the streets, again.)