newsletter logo  Page 1 2 3

FRIDAY - JUNE 30, 2006 - ISSUE NO. 218

page 2aapc logoemma logo
brad dye
Wireless Messaging Newsletter
  • VoIP
  • Wi-Fi
  • Paging
  • Wi-MAX
  • Telemetry
  • Location Services
  • Wireless Messaging
wireless logo medium


A Global Wireless Messaging Association

emma logo

On October 19, 2005, in Helsinki, Finland, a new paging association was formed. Successor to WMA (Wireless Messaging Association UK) and EMMA (European Mobile Messaging Association), the new association retained EMMA as its name. Derek Banner, former chairman of WMA was elected chairman of the new EMMA.

You can contact Mr. Banner by calling him on +44 1895 473 551 or e-mailing him at:  left arrow CLICK HERE



Advertiser Index

AAPC—American Association of Paging Carriers  InfoRad, Inc.
Advanced RF Communications  Ira Wiesenfeld
Advantra—INILEX  Minilec Service, Inc.
Aquis Communications, Inc.   Northeast Paging
Ayrewave Corporation   NotePage Inc.
Bay Star Communications  ParkMagic
CONTEL Costa Rica   Preferred Wireless
    Prism Paging
CVC Paging   Product Support Services
Daniels Electronics   Ron Mercer
Daviscomms USA   Sun Telecom International
EMMA—European Mobile Messaging Association   Texas Association of Paging Services
eRF Wireless  TH Communications
Global Fax Network Services   UCOM Paging
GTES LLC   Unication USA
Hark Systems   USA Mobility, Systems Application Division
Heartland Communications  WiPath Communications
HMCE, Inc.  Zetron Inc.



June 29, 2006
Contact: John Walls

CTIA-The Wireless Association® Applauds New CPUC Consumer Education Initiative

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – CTIA–The Wireless Association® today expressed strong support for the California Public Utilities Commission's newly launched consumer education initiative as a significant step in better informing consumers about telecommunications services and products.

The new CPUC program was developed over the past three months through a collaborative process involving representatives of the telecommunications industry, consumer groups and community based organizations. It includes a new website and printed materials with tips and guidelines on purchasing services, reading and understanding bills, and avoiding fraudulent practices.

"The CPUC's new consumer education program will provide important information to help consumers select the services that fit their individual needs," said Steve Largent, President and CEO of the CTIA-Wireless Association. "The wireless industry's active participation in this program in partnership with consumer groups and the CPUC reflects our commitment to ensure that wireless services in California are of high quality, are clearly understood by consumers, and are responsive to their needs."

The consumer education initiative was established following the CPUC's adoption of the Telecommunications Consumer Bill of Rights in March 2006. In addition to its new educational materials, the initiative is designed to provide consumers with easier access to the CPUC to secure additional information, have complaints addressed and ensure enforcement of regulations.

# # #
CTIA is the international association for the wireless telecommunications industry,
representing carriers, manufacturers and wireless Internet providers.


daviscomms usa

  • Contract Design, Engineering, & Manufacturing
  • Telemetry Devices
  • Bravo Pagers—Numeric/Alphanumeric
  • ISO9001-2000 Certified Facility
  • Low Cost-High Volume solutions
  • Maximize Time-To-Market Objectives
  • Minimize procurement materials management
  • Receiver Boards-FLEX-POCSAG
  • Integrate our RF Technologies into your product

ReFLEX Testing Station

traffic monitoring device

Traffic Monitoring Device


ReFLEX Utility Module

pda accessories

PDA Accessories

Daviscomms—Product Examples

For information about our Contract Manufacturing services or our Pager or Telemetry line, please call Bob Popow at 480-515-2344, or visit our web site

Daviscomms USA

outr net logo


outrnet custom apps If you see someone in the field (like salespeople, technicians, and delivery people) using paper forms, their company could probably save a pile of money, and get much better timeliness, accuracy and efficiency, by using converting to Outr.Net's Wireless Forms. Custom applications for as little as $995, delivered in just a few days.Outr.Net has a web page on Wireless Forms for Timeports at: left arrow Their latest newsletter is: "Business Development in Mobile Data" left arrow

Please call me so we can discuss your need or your idea. Or contact me by e-mail for more information left arrow

Zetron Simulcast System

High-speed simulcast Paging with protocols such as POCSAG and FLEX™ requires microsecond accuracy to synchronize the transmission of digital Paging signals.

zetron simulcast

Zetron's Simulcast System uses GPS timing information to ensure that the broadcasted transmissions between the nodes of the Simulcast System and associated transmitters are synchronized to very tight tolerances.

This system is ideal for public or private Paging system operators that use multiple transmitters and wish to create new Paging systems or to build out existing systems into new regions. For more information about Zetron's High Speed Simulcast Paging System, the Model 600 and Model 620, go to: left arrow CLICK HERE

Zetron, Inc.
P.O. Box 97004
Redmond, WA 98073-9704 USA
Tel: 425-820-6363
Fax: 425-820-7031
E-mail:   left arrow CLICK HERE
Zetron Inc.

wipath header

We do the clever stuff in Paging & Wireless Data

PDT2000 Paging Data Terminal

pdt 2000 image

  • FLEX & POCSAG, (ReFLEX avail Q3) Inbuilt POCSAG encoder
  • Huge capcode capacity
  • Parallel and 2 serial ports, 4 relays
  • Message & System monitoring

LED Moving Message—LED Displays

led display
  • Variety of sizes
  • Integrated paging receiver

paging data receivers

Paging Data Receivers

  • Highly programmable, intelligent PDRs
  • Desktop and OEM versions
  • Multiple I/O combinations and capabilities

Specialized Paging Solutions
  • Remote switching and control (4-256 relays)
  • PC interfacing and message management
  • Message interception, filtering, redirection, printing & logging
  • Cross band repeating, paging coverage infill, store and forward
  • Alarm interfaces, satellite linking, IP transmitters
  • Paging software

Mobile Data Terminals & Solutions

gpc2000 GPC2000
GPS Controller

Mobile Data Terminal

mdt400 MDT-400
Mobile Data Terminal
  • Fleet tracking, messaging, job processing and field service management.
  • Automatic vehicle location (AVL), GPS.
  • ReFLEX, CDMA, GPRS, Conventional and trunked radio interfaces.

WiPath Communications LLC
4467 Terracemeadow Ct.
Moorpark, CA 93021
4467 Terracemeadow Ct.
Moorpark, CA 93021
Web site: left arrow CLICK
E-mail: left arrow CLICK
Phone: 1-805-532-9964
WiPath Communications

I am an authorized Manufacturer Representative for WiPath Communications. Please contact me directly for any additional information. left arrow CLICK



Want to help the newsletter?

Become a SPONSOR

Promote your company's image with one of the posters or better yet, one of the commercial advertising packages

Small 100X35 $7.69
Medium 200X70 $11.54
Large 300X100 $15.38
Extra Large 300X300 $19.23
Package 1 variable $23.08
Package 2 variable $26.92
Package 3 variable $34.62

* cost per week—six-month minimum—or 26 issues

For more details, and pricing on the various advertising options please click here left arrow CLICK HERE


sun logo
sun pagers
Sun Telecom International
Suite 160
5875 Peachtree Industrial Blvd.
Norcross, GA 30092 USA
Telephone:  800-811-8032 (toll free)
Telephone:  678-720-0303
Fax:  678-720-0302
Sun Telecom International

Customers in Latin America may contact Brad Dye for price and delivery information. Español esta bien—con toda confianza.



  • 75,000+ units repaired annually
  • Alpha & Numeric
  • FLAT RATE PRICING—no hassle
  • Quick Turnaround


815-477-8130 ext. 130
Rick Van Dyne


Advertise Here

price reduced graphic

Your company's logo and product promotion can appear right here for six months. It only costs $600.00 for a full-size ad in 26 issues—that's only $23.08 an issue. (6-month minimum run.)

Read more about the advertising plans here. left arrow CLICK HERE


th comms

Special Offer on Paging Accessories

Secure your mobile device, Pager, Mobile or PDA with a 23cm Motorola Lanyard Chain, Bungee or Lobster security device.

Lanyard Chains—Black, Gold or Silver Bungee’s—Violet, Blue, Black, or Green Lobster—Leather tan


Special Offer of 1,000 pieces for $873.00

To place your order or for more information contact: or +44 (0) 20 8914 5339 website:

The pricing quoted is a guideline price, pending order quantity. All Prices exclude VAT and carriage charges.

pssi logo

Messaging & Cellular
Repair, Refurbishment, Logistics, and Sales

  • Authorized Service Center Supporting Most Major OEMs
  • Factory Trained & Certified Technicians
  • 90-Day Warranty
  • Certified ISO 9001-2000 Compliant

Call Or E-mail For More Information


Parco Press Release Monday, June 26, 2006

For Immediate Release
Monday 26th of June 2006

Parco Signs Worldwide Exclusive License for Healthcare Precision Location Technology

Huntsville, Alabama, June 22, 2006 – Time Domain Corporation, a world-wide leader in the development of Ultra Wideband (UWB) wireless technologies, has signed an exclusive license agreement with Parco Merged Media Corporation to provide UWB real-time locating systems (RTLS) to the healthcare industry. Parco develops software which enables rapid integration of RTLS data for use within hospitals, nursing homes, and other medical facilities to better enable processes such as work flow, inventory control, asset utilization and billing.

Under the license agreement, Time Domain will provide various types of small tags suitable for wearing as a patient wristband or hospital personnel badge, or for attaching to medical equipment. The locations of the tags will be tracked by UWB readers installed at fixed locations within a medical facility providing the location of patients, caregivers, and equipment within 1.5 feet every second with over 98% reliability.

“Time Domain is already in its 4th generation of UWB at the silicon level and this capability is to be incorporated into the Parco designs”, says Bertrand Dugal, President of Parco. “In this regard, Time Domain is several years ahead of anyone else in the industry. For those hospitals waiting on the sidelines for tracking technologies to improve, their wait is over” states Dugal.

According to Scott Cohen, CEO of Parco Merged Media Corp., “Time Domain has engineered a world class cooperative precision location tracking system for Parco and its customers. This new system is designed to pass FCC verifications and CE certifications for industrial, scientific and medical usage. From a commercialization standpoint, Time Domain’s solution is compatible with industry standard network switch products enabling Parco and other Time Domain licensees to obtain faster and broader market penetration.”

Parco expects to ship beta products to its key customers in September 2006. Commercial shipment of the flagship tracking product will begin in 4th Quarter 2006. Time Domain products will be sold to healthcare customers under the Parco Wireless brand and will be privately branded by leading information technology providers. The products will also be branded with the PulsON Powered™ certification mark which will identify them as genuine, licensed Time Domain UWB products employing Time Domain’s patented PulsON® technology. The Parco Wireless products are available through technology wholesalers such as CDW and healthcare information system developers such as Patient Care Technology Systems. A full list of authorized resellers and developers is available on Parco’s website

“We are fortunate Parco not only recognizes the strengths and benefits of UWB in the health care environment but also Time Domain’s leadership position in the UWB industry from both a technical and an Intellectual Property perspective”, said Will Webb, President and CEO. “Because we have both the superior technology and the IP strength necessary to give licensees a significant competitive advantage in their respective markets, we expect to sign many more licenses for our technology for both tag and tagless tracking applications.”


About Time Domain Corporation
Time Domain Corporation, a worldwide leader in Ultra Wideband (UWB) technology, is developing and deploying UWB solutions to enable significant advances in radar, precision tracking, and wireless communications. The Company markets its silicon products under the brand name PulsON®. Time Domain is currently working with strategic partnerships and customers to integrate PulsON technology into a variety of products. Time Domain maintains the premier patent portfolio for UWB technology, with more than 110 patents issued worldwide. Time Domain is a privately-held corporation with major backing from Pharos Capital. Further information is available on the Internet at

About Parco Wireless
Parco Wireless is the healthcare industry leader in developing location based RFID systems. The company has developed the most reliable and accurate RFID-enabled resource and patient workflow management tools available to hospitals today. Parco’s state-of-the art indoor positioning systems use an advanced form of non-interfering RFID called ultra-wide band (UWB) technology as well as advanced software management tools that consistently report sub-foot accuracy for thousands of patients and hospital equipment. Parco is also developing location based applications leveraging the 915MHz, 2.4GHz, and 5.9GHz frequency ranges as well as UWB into a single, multi-use chipset tag design. All of Parco’s systems are designed to work with most legacy systems for easy software integration, electromagnetic and radio frequency compatibility. The Parco systems optimize asset utilization in everyday use as well as emergency situations, increase patient flow, reduce wait times, reduce operating costs and improve overall patient care quality. Visit. for more information.

Forward Looking Statements
This press release contains forward-looking statements about Time Domain / Parco Merged Media and the capability of their respective technology that are intended to qualify for the safe-harbor from liability provided by the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 and other federal and state laws. There exists several material risks that the forward-looking statements contained in this release may not come true or may be delayed. Readers should view these forward-looking statements with caution and some of the more material risks that could affect these statements are: timely FCC regulatory approval to sell products in the U.S. markets; the need to productize its products; the continuing need for working capital; the risks applicable to a development stage company; the possibility of unforeseen technological obstacles; the risks of managing growth (resource allocation, business focus, and employee retention); and the possible effects of competition in the fast growing Ultra-Wideband and wireless markets.

Source: Parco Press Release

Hurricane-Prone States Face Big Communication Problems This Storm Season

The memory of Hurricane Katrina isn't even a year old, but Louisiana and other states still struggle with radio-controlled emergency communications systems that don't interoperate.

By Elena Malykhina J. Nicholas Hoover
Jun 26, 2006 12:00 AM

Tropical Storm Alberto was a relatively mild opener for the 2006 storm season, downing some trees and power lines in northern Florida earlier this month. But with the likelihood of more destructive storms in the coming weeks, it's important for vulnerable regions to have solid communications plans in place. Easier said than done.

First responders can expect more turbulence this hurricane season

Photo courtesy of NOAA

The lack of interoperable communications systems remains a big problem, just as it was during last year's Hurricane Katrina disaster. First responders to hurricanes and other disasters throughout the country typically are equipped with handheld devices that use radio frequencies for communicating. But state and local agencies often use different radio frequencies, creating communication roadblocks. Some states are working toward common communications platforms, but funding problems are slowing efforts.

"Last year, we had a lot of communication issues," says Rizwan Ahmed, CIO of the state of Louisiana. That's a huge understatement. During infamously brutal Katrina, the inability of state-level first responders to communicate with local emergency personnel was just one of the problems. Gov. Kathleen Blanco in January created an executive committee that's working to establish an interoperable communications system, and there have been improvements since last year, but there's still much to do. Plans for a third data center to serve as a backup in northern Louisiana also are dragging because of poor funding. "Individual agencies have insufficient budgets, and traditionally disaster preparedness is where they've cut down money," Ahmed says.

He's not the only concerned state CIO. In a survey of 350 attendees of the National Association of State Chief Information Officers conference earlier this month, conducted by conference organizers Accenture and AT&T, 54% disagreed and 15% strongly disagreed with the statement that state and local governments are better prepared for major disasters since Hurricane Katrina. The survey finds that 46% of states have a disaster recovery plan in place to handle catastrophic events, and 40% have one in the works.

After Hurricane Floyd destroyed whole towns in North Carolina and killed 35 people in 1999, the state started a program called Voice Interoperability Plan for Emergency Responders to get a single 800-MHz interoperable radio system up and running statewide. The program calls for first responders to use the same terms and represent data the same way. But most communities, concerned with reliability and cost, have dropped out of the program.

South Carolina deployed an 800-MHz system called Palmetto two years ago. CIO Jim Bryant proudly notes that the First Response Coalition, a nonprofit organization that educates the public about first-responder systems, praised the state's emergency communications in an April report on interoperable communication in eight storm-prone states. But its system isn't perfect. "While South Carolina appears to have established a robust, statewide emergency communications network, it is available only to state agencies, or those local communities that have the financial resources to upgrade to the Palmetto 800 system," the report says. Local and state responders also communicate using a Web-based emergency operations center.

Alabama has a number of preprogrammed radios activated for disasters and available to certain groups, but the First Response Coalition report calls its efforts toward interoperability "largely uncoordinated." Louisiana plans to replace its outdated radios, and none too soon: Motorola will no longer offer tech support for them at the end of the year, according to the report.

But accountability could be as much of a factor as lack of funding in keeping citizens safe. Many states do get federal funding, but the First Response Coalition report cautions that states aren't required to show how they spend funds for interoperability projects, making it difficult for an outside organization to assess whether the money is being spent effectively. So while more money will help, it's going to take organized efforts to funnel those funds into workable plans to improve severe weather communications.

Source: InformationWeek

wherify logo



—World’s First GSM Locator Phone for Kids & Seniors Being Evaluated by Select Customers—

wherifyREDWOOD SHORES, Calif. — June XX, 2006 — Wherify Wireless, Inc. (OTCBB:WFYW ), a leading developer of patented wireless location solutions and services for family safety and communications, today announced it has completed the integration of SiRF Technologies Holdings, Inc.’s (Nasdaq: SIRF) next generation SiRFstarIII GPS chip set solution into the Wherifone™ GPS locator phone. This will provide improved GPS performance and features. The improved Wherifone is being evaluated by select customers for pre-launch field trials and acceptance testing, and is expected to be commercially available by Fall 2006.

wherify“We are very excited to have completed this important milestone and to demonstrate the improved Wherifone for our customers,” said Timothy Neher, CEO and Founder of Wherify Wireless. “We believe that the combination of our proprietary Aided-GPS solution with the SiRFstarIII, arguably the best GPS chipset available today, will enable the Wherifone to significantly outperform other wireless GPS and cell tower triangulation-based products currently in the marketplace.”

wherifyThe SiRFstarIII architecture, with the equivalent of more than 200,000 correlators, enables fast and deep GPS signal search capabilities, resulting in significant improvement over today’s architectures that contain a few hundred to a few thousand correlators.

wherify“We’re pleased to support exciting new products like the Wherifone with our SiRFstarIII solution to promote the public adoption and acceptance of next generation LBS services,” said Kanwar Chadha, founder and vice president of marketing for SiRF. “We believe the high-performance SiRFstarIII architecture will help Wherify meet consumer expectations of its unique family communications and safety service.”

wherifyThe Wherifone is the world’s first GSM/GPS locator cell phone designed for children and seniors. The two-way cell phone has built-in Aided-GPS location and “managed dial” features that give on-the-go parents the peace of mind of being able to quickly locate and communicate with their young children and elderly relatives, while also controlling who they can call and how much it will cost.

wherifyWherify's Aided-GPS performance will vary, but often provides location results in places where conventional GPS solutions may have performance issues, such as in many types of wood frame buildings and vehicles, and under dense foliage. The Wherifone’s patented Aided-GPS location solution is supported by the Wherify Global Location Service Center, which maintains information on all the GPS satellites in space through a series of GPS Reference Receivers, and applies location information into Wherify's mapping and location management system to let users see a device's position displayed on a map or aerial photograph.

wherifyAbout Wherify Wireless, Inc
Wherify Wireless, Inc. (WFYW:OTCBB) is a pioneering developer of personal location products and services, as recognized by the Smithsonian Institution Museum’s adoption of Wherify Wireless’ groundbreaking first product, the Child Locator, into permanent display as the world’s first commercial personal GPS tracking device. With three U. S. patents granted in the areas of personal location and position tracking and four more patents pending in the area of GPS locator phones, Wherify Wireless continues to be a leader in location technology development by integrating Aided-GPS location into a GSM cellular platform that has been demonstrated on over 100 GSM networks world-wide. Wherify Wireless’ expertise in GPS technology for wireless devices and its patented back-end location service engine enable customers to obtain real-time location information on individuals and property directly through the Internet or any phone. Wherify Wireless was founded in 1998, and is located in Redwood Shores, California.

wherifyNote Regarding Forward Looking Statements
Any statements that are not statements of historical fact (including statements containing the words "believes," "plans," "anticipates," "expects," "estimates" and similar expressions) should be considered to be forward-looking statements. There are a number of factors that could cause actual results or events to differ materially from those indicated by such forward-looking statements, including general conditions in the relevant industries and markets, the impact of competitive products, intellectual property issues and the other factors described in Wherify Wireless’ periodic filings with the SEC. The company disclaims any intention or obligation to update any forward-looking statements as a result of developments occurring after the date of press release.

John Cunningham
Director of Communications
Wherify Wireless
Tel: 1.650.551.5271


Joe Noel
Wherify Investor Relations
Tel: 1.650.551.5231

# # #

Wherify, Wherify Wireless and FACES are registered trademarks of Wherify Wireless, Inc. Wherifone is trademark of Wherify Wireless, Inc. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

Source: Wherify Press Release ("pdf")


eRF Wireless
Paging Hardware
End-to-End Solutions for Wireless Personal Communications and Messaging Productsbase stations
Base Stations & Link Transmitters
power amplifiers
Power Amplifiers
Exceptional quality. Unmatched sales and service support.

redundant switches
Redundant Switches

As a worldwide supplier of telecommunications equipment eRF Wireless designs, manufactures and markets transmitters, receivers, controllers, software and other equipment used in personal communications systems, as well as radio and telephone systems. eRF Wireless also provides service and support for its products, as well as consulting and research development on a contract basis.

If you'd like a single-source provider that's committed to competitive prices and fast delivery, call us today at 1-800-538-9050 or visit our web site at: left arrow CLICK HERE

erf logo
2911 South Shore Blvd., Suite 100 • League City, TX 77573

park magic logo

is the new way to
pay & display
park magic
for parking in town and city streets

Something's coming to Chicago 8/23/06!

park magic graphic

Contact us: ParkMagic
→ Riverfront → Howley's Quay → Limerick → Ireland
→ [t] +353-61-311422 → [f] +353-87-52546840


Paging is alive and well in Ireland




Paging Seminar

Specially designed course for sales, marketing, and administration personnel. Engineers will only be admitted with a note signed by their mothers, promising that they will just listen and not disrupt the class. (This is supposed to be funny!)

This is a one-day training course on Paging that can be conducted at your place of business. Please take a look at the course outline to see if you think this might be beneficial in your employees: Paging Seminar outline. I would be happy to customize the content to meet your specific requirements.

Although it touches on several "technical" topics, it is definitely not a technical course. I used to teach the sales and marketing people at Motorola Paging and they appreciated an atmosphere where they could ask technical questions without being made to feel like a dummy and without getting a long convoluted overly-technical answer that left them more confused than before. A good learning environment is one that is non-threatening.

Let me know if you would like to receive a quotation, or if you would like to have any additional information. left arrow CLICK HERE


advantra logo

Location Devices & ReFLEX Modems

developer kit

Developer Kit








ron mercer global

Download Mr. Mercer's resumé. left arrow CLICK HERE

Complete Technical Services For The
Communications and Electronics Industries
Design • Installation • Maintenance • Training

Ira Wiesenfeld, P.E.
Consulting Engineer
Registered Professional Engineer

Tel/Fax: 972-960-9336
Cell: 214-707-7711
7711 Scotia Dr.
Dallas, TX 75248-3112


contel banner left arrow CLICK HERE

pat merkel ad left arrow e-mail left arrow web site

notepage ad

daniels electronics animated graphic


$500.00 FLAT RATE

TAPS—Texas Association of Paging Services is looking for partners on 152.480 MHz. Our association currently uses Echostar, formerly Spacecom, for distribution of our data and a large percentage of our members use the satellite to key their TXs. We have a CommOneSystems Gateway at the uplink in Chicago with a back-up running 24/7. Our paging coverage area on 152.480 MHz currently encompasses Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Louisiana, and Kansas. The TAPS paging coverage is available to members of our Network on 152.480 MHz for $.005 a transmitter (per capcode per month), broken down by state or regions of states and members receive a credit towards their bill for each transmitter which they provide to our coverage. Members are able to use the satellite for their own use If you are on 152.480 MHz or just need a satellite for keying your own TXs on your frequency we have the solution for you.

TAPS will provide the gateways in Chicago, with Internet backbone and bandwidth on our satellite channel for $ 500.00 (for your system) a month.

Contact Ted Gaetjen @ 1-800-460-7243 or left arrow CLICK TO E-MAIL


Repair and Technical Support Services

  • Glenayre/Quintron Transmitters, Receivers and Controllers
  • Experienced former Glenayre/Quintron Technicians and Engineers

410 ½ S. 10th
Quincy, IL 62301

Please click here to e-mail Ayrewave.

Cell companies beefing up in preparation for hurricane season

6/26/2006, 4:25 p.m. CT
The Associated Press

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Bay St. Louis Police Chief Frank McNeil faced the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina with no communications. And all along Mississippi's tattered coast, residents scrambled to find ways to tell loved ones they had survived.

It is a scene that major wireless companies hope to prevent this hurricane season by investing millions to beef up towers, educate customers and build mobile command centers.

"I think the message is that there's always something to learn," said Patrick Kimball, a spokesman for Verizon Communications Inc. "It's very important to be ready for these things because communications is key for relief organizations, law enforcement and to help customers keep in touch with their family."

For the most part, it was the lack of electricity that hindered wireless communications, coupled with a decimated landline system that left many people with the feeling they had been cut off from the world after Katrina hit on Aug. 29.

"There was zero communications," said Waveland resident Allen Calliham. "After about a week or so there was one spot over here where you could make a call. There wasn't a lot of (signal) strength but you could get a call through if you went to the (U.S. 90) bridge in Bay St. Louis."

Calliham said he was not able to contact his family and friends to let them know he was alive until he made his way into Alabama and Florida when he fled the devastation in his hometown.

However, some users on the coast say they never lost cellular service.

Jim Catchot, a dispatcher with the Ocean Springs Police Department, said his Cellular South telephone was the only phone in the department that worked.

George Sholl, Jackson County Emergency Communications coordinator, said coverage was spotty but Cellular South's service did work.

"Cell South was the one everybody was using," he said. "Whenever you start talking about everybody calling in to see how people were doing, there were some busy problems ... I think they've done some work to fix that."

Sholl said text messaging also worked when voice calls didn't.

But Gov. Haley Barbour has said that communications were so spotty in the days after the unprecedented storm that the head of the Mississippi National Guard "might as well have been a Civil War general."

"Pitiful. Absolutely no communications," McNeil said of the hard-hit area. "There was no way to communicate between here, Waveland and the rest of Hancock County."

McNeil said his department was isolated until satellite phones were brought in two or three days after the storm.

The department has invested in satellite phones and an 800 megahertz digital trunk system that should allow for communications between first responders, McNeil said.

Jackson-based Cellular South, which said its network was 60 percent operational one day after the storm, is investing more than $8 million in equipment and system upgrades like microwave technology that can circumvent damaged or destroyed landline systems. Privately-held Cellular South does not release subscriber numbers, but it is rated as a Tier 2 company, which generally have more than 500,000 users, spokeswoman Tanya Rankin said.

The company hopes the improvements will fend of problems similar to those caused by Katrina, said Tony Kent, vice president of engineering and network operations.

"Additionally, we are investing $78 million in 2006 to add 200 new cell sites to our wireless network across Mississippi. Approximately 40 of those will be added in south Mississippi," Kent said.

Cingular Wireless LLC, the nation's largest cell phone provider, just unveiled a mobile command center that can accommodate up to 30 employees and rapidly respond to hard-hit areas, said Joe Larussa, vice president of Cingular's operations in Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and northwest Florida. The company says it's also ready to deploy more than 50 mobile cellular towers.

Cellular South has also ordered a mobile command center but, more importantly, the company had a centrally located field headquarters operating on the coast, said Jim Richmond, director of corporate sales.

Cingular is investing $1.8 billion on its system in the Southeast, adding 800 new cell sites and spending $60 million for hurricane preparation, said company spokeswoman Dawn Benton.

Company workers had a hard time getting to cell towers in Mississippi and Louisiana to make repairs or refuel generators because trees, debris and flood water blocked roads. That's why Verizon prefers to connect most of its generators to natural gas lines or propane tanks that run longer than diesel generators, Kimball said.

And, he said, Verizon will have thousands more cellular phones available to the emergency responders and charitable organizations that snapped up phones after Katrina.

"Different carriers fare differently. So we'll find law enforcement that may be having problems with one carrier and our phones work in that area, so as quickly as possible we'll try to distribute phones to those who need it," he said. "The volume last year was really significant, so we had to bring in cell phones and air cards from across the country."

The cell phone companies also are urging their customers to prepare. The companies say people should charge their batteries if a storm threatens to make landfall, program emergency numbers and use text messaging, which is more reliable when circuits are jammed with calls.

"We've seen that preparation equals performance in emergencies as well as every day, and we want to help residents communicate and stay safe before, during and after storms," said Katherine Greene, Verizon's Gulf Coast region president.


right arrow  Continue on to Page 3  left arrow
Don't miss the good things on the next page.

News, opinions, opportunities, and products to help your business grow.