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FRIDAY - JANUARY 17, 2003 - ISSUE NO. 49

Dear Friends and Industry Colleagues,

Hello again to everyone interested in paging and wireless messaging. News this week from TGA Technologies, Inc. about an upgrade to their PRISM Paging Terminal. Last week I lamented about the use of FM subcarriers to transmit the information content of Microsoft's new initiative that they call SPOT (Smart Personal Object Technology). As promised, I have written a report on FM subcarrier paging, which follows.

Once again, I want to thank everyone who has taken a moment to forward their copy of this newsletter to a friend or co-worker.

My best source of breaking news continues to be from my readers who call me with: "Have you heard about. . . ?" Keep those tips coming in—for the benefit of us all.

This is my weekly newsletter about Wireless Data and Radio Paging. You are receiving this message because you have either communicated with me in the past about a wireless topic, or your address was included in another e-mail that I received on the same subject. This is not a SPAM. If you have received this message in error, or you are not interested in these topics, please click here, then click on “send” and you will be promptly removed from the mailing list. My apologies.

Global Machine-to-Machine Communications Market Will Increase From $3.4 Billion in 2002 to More Than $28 Billion in 2007

Jan 14, 2003, 10:41am

The market for wireless Machine-to-Machine applications, including hardware, software and services, is poised for explosive growth, according to a new Wireless Data Research Group report. The study found that wireless LAN based systems were the most significant contributor to the 2002 market total, due mostly to telemetry systems for Healthcare, totaling more than $1 billion of the $3.4 billion.

Machine-to-Machine communication systems allow users to remotely monitor and control key business processes and functions via wireless-enabled devices, resulting in greater manageability and visibility in areas such as performance monitoring and management, plant operations, maintenance scheduling and even security. The same systems are also found in Smart Home and related consumer applications.

Source: mBusinessToday

Fight with computer brings SWAT team

A 32-year-old Boulder man who had opened his apartment's patio door to enjoy Wednesday's unusually warm weather was later overheard screaming threats and seen waving what appeared to be a handgun, prompting a maintenance worker to call police.

Officers, as a precaution, evacuated the man's apartment building and called SWAT officers to assist in defusing the situation.

It turned out that the man was simply upset at his computer—which he had called a "bitch" he "wanted to kill," police said—and the gun was a plastic pellet gun, not the .45-caliber automatic handgun it was made to resemble.

Source: news

The computer must have been running "Windoze" software.

TGA news

TGA logo

TGA Technologies, Inc.


For further info:

Barry Kanne (
(800) 998-8421, ext. 114
Jim Nelson (
(800) 998-8421, ext. 112



Norcross, GA—TGA Technologies, Inc., the Norcross-based producer of high-capacity radio paging terminals announces the re-introduction of tone & voice paging as an available feature of its PRISM Paging Terminal. This new feature is in response to customer demand to support what has become a seemingly irreplaceable form of paging.

"Over the years, TGA has added features to PRISM in support of new paging technologies, but this is the first time we have looked this far back to add improvement," says Barry Kanne, TGA’s president. "Tone & Voice has always played an important role with users who needed the entire message quickly or were not in a position to call in for the details of the message," he continued.

The TGA PRISM also supports all the more modern digital paging formats such as: FLEX, Golay and POCSAG in addition to providing 2-tone and 5/6-tone + voice analog formats. Missed voice messages may be recovered from the internal voice message system by activating the "Page Assurance" feature for that subscriber. Messages are held on the voice message disk for a preset period to allow a paging user to call in and listen to messages that were previously sent. This same feature applies to numeric pages as well.

The addition of tone & voice offers public safety and medical paging system users an opportunity to replace aging or outdated paging terminals with a modern design without having to discard their tried and true methods of communicating.

For information contact Jim Nelson, TGA Technologies, Inc. (800) 998-8421, ext. 112 or by e-mail at


TGA announces a Valentine offer we think you will love!

1. Come to the TGA factory in Atlanta, see the PRISM paging terminal in action
2. Purchase a new TGA PRISM paging terminal system deliverable in the next 90 days, and
3. TGA will rebate your travel and hotel cost (up to $1000) as a discount against the price of your new PRISM.


Contact Jim or Barry at:
(800) 998-8421
to schedule your visit to TGA.

A special discount is available to all members of The American Association of Paging Carriers (AAPC).  As an immediate and tangible benefit of AAPC membership, a discount of 5% will apply to all orders placed for TGA PRISM paging terminals and encoders and deliverable by the end of April, 2003.

Here is a great way to offset the cost of membership dues and upgrade your paging terminal system at the same time.

Contact Jim Nelson (800) 998-8421, ext. 112 for details.

WWW Consortium releases specs for wireless graphics

Jan. 16, 2003 12:18 PM EST

CAMBRIDGE, Mass.—The World Wide Web Consortium, which sets many of the technology standards for the Internet, released new specifications for graphics for handheld computers and mobile phones.

The group released its new Scalable Vector Graphics version 1.1, which includes subsets for personal digital assistants and mobile phones. The SVG Tiny specification allows phones to display color animated multimedia messages, while SVG Basic gives PDAs the ability to render graphics based on the specifications.

The SVG Working Group includes companies like BitFlash, Ericsson, Nokia Corp. and Openwave Systems Inc.

Source: RCR Wireless News


I promised more information on subcarrier paging this week, so here goes. Following are some of my comments on the subject and then several links to more in-depth information if you are inclined to dig deeper into this topic.


SCA—Subsidiary Communications Authority
A subcarrier , known also as Subsidiary Communications Authority or SCA , is a separate audio or data channel which is transmitted along with the main audio signal over a broadcast station. These subcarrier channels are not receivable with a regular radio; special receivers are required. Subcarriers are used for many different purposes, including (but not limited to) paging, inventory distribution, bus dispatching, stock market reports, traffic control signal switching, point-to-point or multipoint messages, foreign language programming, radio reading services , radio broadcast data systems (RBDS), station control and meter reading, utility load management, and muzak. A broadcast station may transmit more than one subcarrier signal. Licensing of subcarrier operations ended in 1983 when the service was deregulated.

Source: FCC web site

I have personally used subcarrier pagers and I don't like them very much. Have you ever used a portable FM radio? Most of them have a little light that goes on when the radio is receiving stereo. Did you ever notice the light flickering on and off? I certainly have—and frequently. Well, that light is used to monitor the reception of a subcarrier signal used to decode FM broadcasts in stereo. When you see the light flicker you are in an area where subcarrier paging probably won't work. Proponents of subcarrier paging usually say: "Look at all the power this FM broadcast transmitter has! Maybe 50,000 or even 100,000 watts of effective radiated power (ERP), wow—compare that to the meager 1,000 watts of "ERP" that a typical paging transmitter has!"

True, but very misleading. Let's keep it simple here. The little subcarrier paging signal riding "piggyback" on the big FM broadcast signal is no more powerful that one typical one-way paging signal. Paging, especially on 900 MHz has much better performance than FM broadcast, which is (above and below) 100 MHz. More on this issue follows ahead. Traditional paging companies use several thousand (5,000 or more each) transmitters to cover the major population areas of the USA while the Microsoft DirectBand™ system probably has little more than one transmitter in each of the 100 metropolitan areas that they "cover."

So I think instead of calling this new Microsoft initiative SPOT for Smart Personal Object Technology, they should call it SPOTTY for the radio coverage that they are going to get.

As far as I know, every commercial attempt at successful paging operations using FM subcarrier transmissions, has failed. It has been tried for may years, all over the world. There have been some very smart people behind these efforts, but the SCA approach has too many technical problems.

  • The 100 MHz frequency is not optimum for building penetration.
  • The pagers have to scan for a local signal—this slows everything down and increases battery consumption.
  • There are not enough transmitters in a given area for good coverage—dead spots cannot be completely filled in.
  • Simulcast cannot be used (see below).

OK, I admit that deployment of a new, nationwide system using FM subcarrier cost them a fraction of what it would have cost using FLEX or ReFLEX, but you end up with something that is going to be a pain in the derriere forever.

Simulcast FLEX™ paging on 900 MHz works better—and ReFLEX works even better!
Without getting too technical, I just want to point out that our modern paging systems are the result of many years of constantly improving the way that paging signals are sent to a pager. Simulcast is a word formed from two words, "simultaneous" and "broadcast" and it just means that the message which goes to your pager gets sent out, or transmitted, from several different radio transmitters at the same time—it is broadcast simultaneously. In the world of radio, this is not generally a good idea since two radio signals can cancel each other if they arrive in the same area at slightly different times. Thanks to modern technology (GPS, etc.), we can now very accurately control the timing, the strength, and the frequency of these radio signals so that when they arrive in the area where you are (and where your pager is), they do not cancel, and you receive your message. With other systems, like subcarrier FM broadcasts, and even cellphone systems, the receiver can only listen to one radio signal at a time.

The combination of simulcasting and the characteristics of 900 MHz make, what I believe to be, the most reliable and effective way that we currently have to transmit wireless data. As you move around, you may be in an area where the signal from the nearest transmitter is blocked by an obstacle, like a large building, but then your pager can instantly pick up a different signal from another transmitter and you don't miss your message. Remember, in one-way paging systems, if you miss your message, it is lost forever (unless you use a TGA paging terminal). In two-way systems, if you miss your message, the system will keep on trying until your pager confirms receipt of the message—without errors.

At 900 megahertz, radio waves behave very differently than they do on lower frequencies. They penetrate into buildings, go into tunnels and underground parking areas, and show up in areas where other radio signals are lost.

What is this Microsoft DirectBand™ network?

DirectBand™ will initially cover over 100 top metropolitan areas across all 50 U.S. states, plus the top 14 Canadian cities.

Microsoft, along with key partners in the FM broadcasting industry, has created the DirectBand™ Network a unique, continuous broadcast network across the US and Canada. Taking advantage of FM radio subcarrier frequencies, Smart Personal Objects Technology-based devices are continuously updated with timely and relevant Web-based information. DirectBand makes your watches and other SPOT devices smarter and more useful for your location and your personal information needs.

Source: Microsoft web site

Cue—The Paging Network—what it once was

CUE was founded in 1984 by Nokia Mobile Phones, the second largest manufacturer of cellular telephones in the world. In 1990, the company was purchased by Radio Satellite Network Corporation of Toronto. Today, the company offers nationwide, regional and local messaging, data services and real-time traffic information.

CUE is the largest radio data network in the world with five times the geographical coverage of the next largest paging company. The network covers over 50,000 miles of interstate highways and over 95 percent of the population of Canada and the United States.

CUE provides wireless messaging throughout North America over the FM subcarrier facilities of more than 600 radio stations. The network provides a seamless footprint covering more than two million square miles that serves over 170,000 subscribers.

Source: (This is outdated information.)

Does anyone have a telephone number or an e-mail address for Gordon Kaiser, the former head of Cue Paging Network? Gordon is a great guy and I want to give him the opportunity to respond to these issues—if he wants to, and besides I haven't talked to him for a long time.


Swedish MBS Format (on

Radio Data System (RDS) Format (on

Technical Definition of Subcarrier Paging

  • FM SCA
  • Subsidiary Communications Authorization
  • FM Subcarrier Information
  • Subsidiary Communications Service (SCS)

Radio Reading for the Blind

FM Subcarrier Systems

Charlie Brown Rescued Snoopy with a Cue pager (from a 1988 Radio-Electronics magazine article)

Subcarriers in F.M. Broadcasting (very good description)

Another good description of SCA

FM Subcarrier Standards Debate

The RDS (Radio Data Systems) Technology Gap

Intelligent Transportation Systems, Standards Fact Sheet or (PDF)

I still need to license a good FLEX decoding program written in “C” or get some consulting help from someone who can show another accomplished programmer some tricks and shortcuts to help get it done more quickly. If you know someone who can do this, please contact Brad Dye for a referral.
I am now a manufacturer representative (MR) for Vytek Wireless Products. (Formerly Sonik.) Please look at what they have to offer to the Paging and Wireless Messaging industry.

I would be happy to give you a price quotation on any of their products.

Legacy Technology Solutions LLC—paging infrastructure repair with warranty. Please ask for Virgil Jarrard, President, and tell him Brad sent you. Toll-free voice: 1-877-436-8044 or voice: 972-436-8044, fax: 972-436-8944. They are located in the Dallas suburbs, and they sometimes have good deals on reconditioned paging equipment as well. Check with them for current product availability. You can send Virgil an e-mail by clicking on the Legacy name above.

If you have any wireless equipment that you would like to buy or sell, please let me know. Everything that is offered for sale in this newsletter is on the honor system. There is no charge for the listing, but if a sale is made, I ask the seller to send me a 10% commission, much the same as the voluntary payments that are requested on the Internet for shareware.



Best regards,

BFD signature
Brad Dye
Wireless Data Consultant

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