|FRIDAY - FEBRUARY 2, 2007 - ISSUE NO. 247|
Dear friends of Wireless Messaging,
Today's Major News Release
Next Week's Newsletter Topic
2007 May Be Our Last Chance
No company can afford to stay in the industry indefinitely without generating reasonable volumes of business—particularly a business that demands ongoing development and technical support. Without suppliers of paging equipment, we would have to “pull the plug” on the whole wireless messaging industry.
Taiwan Paging System—Off the Air Today
Around 1985, if my memory serves, Taiwan went to bid for a modern, island-wide paging system. I was working for Spectrum Communications and Electronics at the time as their international sales manager. The competition was fierce. Both Motorola and NEC really wanted to get the business. I put together an informal consortium of companies—SCE (paging control terminals), Multitone (pagers), and Quintron (paging transmitters) to supply a complete turn-key paging system. We won the bid for what, at that time, was the biggest paging system in the world. We were competing against two of the largest electronics companies. The number of units in service surged to one million by 1992 and reached its peak of 2.6 million by 1998. Even before the new system was on the air, people were lined up for blocks to buy pagers. Motorola had their pager production in high gear with three shifts running around the clock. One year, a Motorola distributor in Taiwan bought 640,000 Bravo numeric display pagers for about $150 each. Wow! Years later the Bravo numeric sold for less than $50!
At that time, Ron Mercer was the president of SCE and my boss—we traveled to Taiwan together to sign the contract. I had delivered our bid in person a few months before.
Now on to more news and views.
A new issue of The Wireless Messaging Newsletter gets posted on the web each week. A notification goes out by e-mail to subscribers on most Fridays around noon central US time. The notification message has a link to the actual newsletter on the Internet. That way it doesn't fill up your incoming e-mail account.
There is no charge for subscription and there are no membership restrictions. Readers are a very select group of wireless industry professionals, and include the senior managers of many of the world's major Paging and Wireless Data companies. There is an even mix of operations managers, marketing people, and engineers—so I try to include items of interest to all three groups. It's all about staying up-to-date with business trends and technology. I regularly get reader's comments, so this newsletter has become a community forum for the Paging, and Wireless Data communities. You are welcome to contribute your ideas and opinions. Unless otherwise requested, all correspondence addressed to me is subject to publication in the newsletter and on my web site. I am very careful to protect the anonymity of those who request it.
NOTE: This newsletter is best viewed at screen resolutions of 800x600 (good) or 1024x768 (better). Any current revision of web browser should work fine. Please notify me of any problems with viewing. This site is compliant with XHTML 1.0 transitional coding for easy access from wireless devices. (XML 1.0/ISO 8859-1.)
Bell Industries Completes Acquisition of SkyTel
SkyTel Expected to Nearly Double Bell's Annual Revenues
Issues $10 Million Convertible Note and Enters into $30 Million Credit Facility
Appoints New Director
INDIANAPOLIS, Feb. 1, 2007 (PRIME NEWSWIRE) (PRIMEZONE) — Bell Industries, Inc. (AMEX:BI) today announced it has completed the acquisition of substantially all of the assets of SkyTel Corp., an indirect subsidiary of Verizon Communications Inc., for a total purchase price of $23 million. The transaction is expected to be immediately accretive.
SkyTel is a leading provider of wireless messaging services and support, including email, interactive two-way messaging, wireless telemetry services and traditional text and numeric paging to Fortune 1000 and government customers throughout the United States. SkyTel employs approximately 375 people and generated revenues in excess of $100 million in 2006. SkyTel is headquartered in Clinton, Mississippi and was founded in 1988.
Bell Industries funded the transaction through borrowings on a new $30 million credit facility with Wells Fargo Foothill, part of Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE:WFC), and the issuance of a $10 million convertible subordinated note to Newcastle Partners, L.P.
"SkyTel has a long and proud history of innovation and market leadership in wireless solutions. We welcome SkyTel's team to the Bell family," said John Fellows, president and chief executive officer of Bell Industries. "We believe that SkyTel's strategic customer relationships and advanced technologies, when coupled with Bell's capabilities, will deliver greater value to customers. Additionally, our new credit facility will allow Bell to support growth objectives across all its existing businesses, including the launch of a number of strategic initiatives within SkyTel. We are also pleased to announce the increased financial commitment of Newcastle Partners, who has been a long-term investor in Bell, having made its first investment in the company in 1999."
"Our Wells Fargo Foothill agreement is a five year asset-based facility that provides for borrowings up to $30 million. The $10 million convertible subordinated note issued to Newcastle Partners has a ten year term, bears interest at 8% and has a conversion price of $3.81 per share, which represents a 10% premium to the trailing 90-day average share price. The issuance of the convertible subordinated note and the signing of the Wells Fargo Foothill credit facility have significantly expanded Bell's financial resources, facilitating consummation of the SkyTel transaction and future strategic initiatives," said Kevin Thimjon, chief financial officer.
In connection with the additional investment by Newcastle Partners, Clinton J. Coleman has been appointed as a member of Bell's board of directors. Mr. Coleman is a Vice President of Newcastle Capital Management, L.P., the general partner of Newcastle Partners.
Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP represented Bell Industries in connection with the acquisition. Verizon was represented by Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP, and Daniels & Associates served as financial advisor to the Seller in the transaction.
About Bell Industries, Inc.
|AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF PAGING CARRIERS|
|FEATURED ADVERTISERS SUPPORTING THE NEWSLETTER|
AQUIS COMMUNICATIONS, INC.
Expense Reduction Services
No FCC Filing Required! Customer Proprietary Network Information (CPNI) Compliance Certifications from all Telecommunications Carriers are due by February 6, 2007 but do not have to be filed with the FCC!
In last week’s newsletter (January 24th 2007 edition), I mistakenly stated that all Telecommunications Carriers were required to file their annual CPNI certifications with the FCC. This information is wrong! Carriers are required to prepare and sign a CPNI compliance certification annually, and that requirement is still in place, but, according to Donna Cyrus of the Telecommunications Consumers Division of the Enforcement Bureau at the FCC, carriers are not required to send the CPNI compliance to the FCC as was required last February 7. My humble apologies to any of you who may have sent your certifications to the FCC and my thanks to Mike Schaefer of Aquis Communications for bringing this to my attention. Bring on the ketchup and the crow pie Mike, lunch is on me!!
For your information, listed below is a copy of 47 CFR 64.2009 and the CPNI filing requirement.
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SEE WEB FOR COMPLETE LIST:
Nasdaq Delists Comverse, Verint
Stock options backdating and missed financial reports lead companies to the Pink Sheets.
January 31, 2007
By Michael Cohn
Comverse Technology and its subsidiary Verint Systems lost their battle Wednesday to stay listed on the Nasdaq after stock options-backdating woes and a series of delayed financial reports prompted their twin delisting.
Both Melville, New York-based tech companies will be moving to the over-the-counter “Pink Sheets” market on Thursday after the Nasdaq Listing and Hearing Review Council notified them that they had lost their appeals to stay on the exchange.
Comverse and Verint are just two of the approximately 200 companies that have gotten caught up in the stock options-backdating scandal that has tarred the reputations of even high-flying companies like Apple and Juniper Networks and led to the resignations and in some cases prosecutions of a number of top executives at various firms.
Shares of Comverse fell $0.29 to $19.65 in recent trading, while Verint shares dropped $0.82 to $33.50.
Fugitive CEO Awaits Extradition
He had been charged along with two other former Comverse executives, CFO David Kreinberg and Senior General Counsel William Sorin, with fraud and deceit by prosecutors in New York.
Before he made his departure, Mr. Alexander allegedly wired $57 million to bank accounts in Israel. But he was eventually tracked down to the African country of Namibia, where United States authorities are attempting to extradite him (see Comverse Fugitive CEO Arrested).
Namibia has no extradition treaty with the U.S., however. Actor Wesley Snipes has also landed in Namibia after fleeing tax evasion charges.
Mr. Sorin has pled guilty and agreed to pay $3 million in fines and restitution to settle civil fraud charges. Mr. Kreinberg has also pled guilty and faces up to 15 years in prison. He has agreed to pay $2.4 million in restitution.
Meanwhile Mr. Alexander remains in Namibia awaiting an extradition hearing so he can be escorted back to the U.S. He has reportedly been spending his time investing in solar energy-powered housing projects for the poor in hopes of remaining in the good graces of local officials.
Comverse and Verint executives issued reassuring statements.
“Comverse Technology remains a financially strong, world class company with more than 7,000 employees serving customers in more than 100 countries,” Comverse Chairman Mark Terrell said in a statement.
“The Nasdaq decision will not affect our ability to continue providing outstanding products, technology, and service to our customers worldwide,” he added. “We are committed to regaining compliance with all filing requirements and obtaining relisting of our common stock in a timely manner.”
“Verint remains financially strong and a leader in the actionable intelligence market,” Verint CEO Dan Bodner said in a statement. “Our shareholders, customers, and partners can be assured that Verint is committed to regaining compliance and restoring our listing in a timely fashion.”
A Comverse spokesperson declined to speculate on why the Nasdaq moved to delist the companies at this time. “I couldn't speak for the Nasdaq, but we have had to delay our 10K and 10Q filings pending restatements,” said Paul Baker, vice president of corporate marketing at Comverse. He added that Comverse has not yet provided an estimate for when it will be able to file the financial statements.
As for Mr. Alexander’s extradition, “This is not company business,” he replied. “This is not anything we have visibility into.” Despite the financial troubles, he noted that Comverse made $410 million in sales last quarter.
Pink Sheets Penalty
“While investors knew there was a risk of delisting, many of the bulls thought the bark would be worse than the bite and that, ultimately, [Comverse] would stay listed on Nasdaq,” wrote Friedman Billings Ramsey analysts Daniel H. Ives and Michael Bauer in a research note. Their firm is a market maker in Verint stock.
They believe a breakup of Comverse, Verint, and another Comverse subsidiary, Ulticom, is likely, and they put the breakup value at roughly $23 to $27 per share. Meanwhile they are giving Comverse a $20 price target and Verint a $35 target.
They expect shares of Comverse to be weak Wednesday because many investors have restrictions against owning Pink Sheets stocks in their portfolio.
Source: Red Herring
Messaging & Cellular
Call Or E-mail For More Information
Central Virginia Community College Raises Public Safety with New System That Broadcasts Alerts to Cell Phones [and pagers]
Wednesday January 31, 9:05 am ET
CVCC considering the text messaging system for student recruitment
LEESBURG, Va., Jan. 31 /PRNewswire/ — Omnilert, LLC, maker of the leading mass notification system for higher education called e2Campus, today announced that Central Virginia Community College (CVCC) has activated the e2Campus mass notification system to raise public safety for the entire campus community. CVCC is using the web-based service to communicate urgent news to students, faculty and staff whether recipients are in class, on campus, or miles away.
John K. Poole, VP of Finance for CVCC explains, "As a relatively new user of e2Campus, our focus has been on getting public safety or emergency communications out to everyone instantly no matter where they may be, and it works wonderfully. CVCC is considering other uses for e2Campus including its use as a tool for recruiting prospective students. Communicating with them is vital and e2 may prove to be a simple, inexpensive way to reach them."
How It Works
About Omnilert, LLC
Source: YAHOO! Finance
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GTES is offering SHERLOC™ services both directly and through authorized resellers. If your company has an interest in finding out how location services can enhance your revenue stream, and has the contacts and expertise to make you successful in the location marketplace, please contact us for further information at www.sherlocgps.com and select “Reseller Opportunities,” or call us at 770-754-1666 for more information.
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THE ART AND SCIENCE OF SIMULCASTING REDUX
By DENNIS CAMERON, TELCOM TECHNOLOGIES ASSOCIATES
It has been almost 25 years since I published my first simulcast paper. While it was state-of-the-art at the time, a lot of technology has come along to make it easier to implement and improve the quality of simulcast systems. This paper will revisit the history and theory, and discuss the new technologies.
While PCS has intruded on some of the basic functions of paging there are still a lot of paging/voice paging/messaging systems around. The need for simulcasting has remained constant, to provide paging/messaging over a wide area and/or increase signal level within a given area. Also, some hardy souls may be around whom are still simulcasting voice.
Wide area paging, at least in the US, started with “Ma Bell”. These were bulky receivers that used two-tone (then three-tone) signaling and simply beeped (thus the term “beeper”) when signaled. Bell used Hi-band VHF and started with a single transmitter. In some cases they sequenced a second transmitter, and in a few cases they “simulcast” non-overlapping transmitters in conjunction with a sequence with other non-overlapping transmitters.
Bell had a different philosophy about paging, they were the Phone Company, and saw paging as just another way of generating phone calls. They applied a version of the Erlang charts and determined the max number of pagers they could handle on a channel was 500! If they needed more capacity, they would apply for a new channel. Because they were most interested in generating phone calls, they had little desire to use anything but tone only paging. Because they were “Ma Bell” they did not worry too much about capacity, if they ran out of capacity on a channel (according to the Erlang charts) and ran out of channels they would simply create a waiting list.
At the same time the FCC allocated paging frequencies for the phone companies (wireline carriers), they also allocated another group of frequencies for non-wireline carriers. Because regulators viewed this allocation as common carriage, its use also came under state control and a certificate of convenience and necessity.
Most of the early non-wireline carriers were answering services. These operators were looking for additional income and saw paging as a direct revenue generator. For the most part these folks loaded channels to the max, and they would basically continue loading until disconnects equaled connects! They constantly looked for ways to increase channel capacity. Back in those days only 6 channels (4 lo-band and 2 hi-band VHF) existed, and in the larger markets it was difficult to come by a channel, especially with the protected areas associated with lo-band.
The need for wide area coverage further drove the need for improved channel capacity. Even with the advent of high speed two-tone and five-tone paging formats the carriers were running out of capacity because the only effective way to go wide areas was to sequence the transmitters or use the combination of simulcasting non-overlapping transmitters in sequence with other non-overlapping transmitters (see figs. 1A, B). In addition to capacity, these methods still left a big problem in most major markets, building penetration.
The carriers were unable to get a signal into large buildings, especially with lo-band. The problem came in two forms; small apertures and reflective glass. Aperture has to do with the windows on older buildings. In RF terms, (this part will interest engineers and “teckies”) “aperture” is an opening that an RF signal can pass through. The optimum minimum aperture is ½ λ (wavelength). A 35 MHz signal’s wavelength is about 28 ft (8.8 meters) long, which requires an aperture of 14’ (or 4.4 meters). Not too many buildings have windows this large, so signals from these frequencies had difficulty in penetrating into the interiors of the buildings. Buildings that do have large windows often (especially in warmer climes) are all glass exteriors but the glass has a metallic content reflective surface. While this design is ok for reflecting the sun and heat, it also reflects RF signals creating the same problem as small apertures.
Carriers tried to solve the penetration problem by installing “fill” transmitters. In the larger markets this practice could require 3 or 4 fill transmitters further complicating the coverage vs capacity issue. If they sequenced the transmissions, then capacity was sacrificed. However, if they tried simulcasting they would have large areas of interference and their system would get clogged with re-calls. This not only affected capacity but required more phone lines to handle the calls (Ma Bell watched the lines and required common carriers to have only so many busies on a line).
With all these factors in play the carriers started asking the vendors for solutions, and a few hardy carriers started looking for their own solutions.
Early attempts at simulcasting proved to be problematic at best and completely useless at its worst. Most of these early systems were attempted using wireline and, in a few cases, microwave. Suffice it to say many man-years were spent trying to make these systems work (to little or no avail). When radio links were first tried it appeared to solve the problem but as faster paging formats came along (and voice paging was attempted) it was back to the drawing board! It wasn't until about 1980 that the first simulcast system that was designed from the ground up as a fully coherent simulcast “system”, was simulcasting truly successful.The basics
First, the definition of simulcast (as used in the Land Mobile industry): Simulcasting is the simultaneous transmission of the same data (digital, analog or voice) through two or more transmitters within the same geographical area. Another description for simulcast is controlled multipath (we will look at that later). Diagrams 2A, and 2B are examples of overlap areas. An overlap area has been defined as an area where two or more RF signals have signal strengths within 6 dB of each other. This definition is only partially correct.
This rule-of-thumb came about because of the differences between AM and FM radios. Amplitude modulation, as most of you know can be very noisy. The intelligence (modulation) causes the amplitude of the signal to vary. The noise (static, lightning, etc., rides along with the amplitude peaks of the signal. Even in strong signal conditions, noise can sometimes be heard. With FM the intelligence (modulation) causes the frequency or phase of the signal to change. Noise still rides on the amplitude peaks of the signal but a FM receiver has a circuit called a limiter that cuts off the amplitude peaks. Because the intelligence is on the frequency or phase differences the limiter does not affect it but does greatly reduce or eliminate the noise. Because the limiter kicks in at about 6dB above the minimum signal level needed to hear a signal this parameter is known as the “capture ratio”, or, the receiver’s ability to capture signal over noise.
Designers then thought that if the overlap signal had a difference of 6 dB, no simulcast effect would exist. The problem with this conclusion is that the interference caused by overlap signals consists of both amplitude and phase noises. While the limiter could deal with some of the amplitude interference, it can do nothing with the phase noises. Unfortunately, half or more of the overlap interference components are phase noises. In addition, a large portion of the amplitude noise is caused by the RF signals beating together.
(WARNING: Teckie session ahead). The reason some of the amplitude noise is a problem has to do with the RF beat note. In almost all simulcast systems (past and present) each transmitter must generate the carrier signal using an oscillator. Because it is difficult to synchronize, oscillators. Even today, they are essentially free running (in relation to each other) devices. In any overlap area the signals generated by these oscillators will go in and out of phase with each other. While in phase (assuming near equal signal strength), the RF signals will add together giving a stronger signal. As these signals start to go out of phase they eventually reach 180° out of phase. This is known as a Zero Crossing. As the phase difference approaches 180°, the signals will start subtracting from each other until there is no signal left (still assuming near equal signal strength). At this point there will be nothing but noise. Rising and then lowering of the noise will occur on either side of the zero crossing point. So, from approximately 110° to 250° there will be a noise pulse that contains both amplitude and phase noise. If you are listening to this signal on a regular FM receiver it will take on the properties of a beat note.
The frequency of the beat note will be determined by the relative offset and the stability of the oscillators. The strength or amplitude of the beat note is determined by the relative signal strength of the two signals in the overlap areas.
Getting overlap areas under control was nearly impossible until the advent of ultra-high-stability oscillators. Although these devices are very expensive, they were far cheaper than any other method of achieving high stability. Even today, they are still the best way of achieving stability.
The second part of simulcasting is the distribution of the data to and through the transmitters. Long after the advent of “hi-stab” oscillators carriers still could not get simulcast to work properly. Two reasons accounted for this problem: (1) distribution of the base band signal to the transmitter and (2) the transmitter itself.
In the beginning, almost all carriers used phone lines for distributing signal to the transmitters. While this approach was a good method of distributing to a single transmitter, it became a disaster when used with simulcast. Without going into mind numbing detail, the problems with phone lines are many. First, line length is a major problem. On a phone line, length equates to time; therefore, the more length, the more time (See Fig 3).
Because Phone Companies cannot guarantee particular path it was always an unknown as to how long the line would be. As the length grew, so did the delay. If one line is twice as long as the other the signal will be delayed by a time that is equal to the length of the line. Being twice as long the signals will be 180° out of phase and assuming about equal signal level, they will cancel each other. Various lengths would produce various phase differences in the overlap areas, which in turn caused varying levels of distortion. Although this can be corrected, there are other factors such as frequency response, envelope delay and just the nature of the copper wires themselves. To make a long story short, phone lines never worked out well for high speed paging formats or voice paging.
Some of the carriers tried light-route microwave but this solution also has its own set of problems. First, it can be very expensive if the transmitter sites do not match the microwave drops, second, most of the multiplex (MUX) in use for "light route" microwave (almost the only type available to use for simulcast distribution) uses a multiplex method known as single-sideband, suppressed carrier (SSBSC). With SSBSC multiplex, absolute phase can be controlled from one end of a channel to the other. However, there usually is no way to control the phase from one channel to the next just as there is no way to control phase from one line to the next with the Phone Company
Finally, some hardy souls tried radio links and things seemed to get better. With radio links there is usually just one distribution transmitter per geographic system. Because most links were phase modulated each receiver was locked to the transmitter which reduced phase jitter. It was a great solution for two-tone paging. However, when five-tone, POCSAG, GOLAY and voice paging was tried the problems started all over again.
The problems had to do with the radio links and the audio circuits of the paging transmitters. For various technical and regulatory reasons these radios had circuits in them known as pre-emphasis and de-emphasis. Again, without going into detail, these circuits had wide, loose frequency and phase responses and could not give good, consistent performance for the higher speed paging and voice paging systems.In the early ‘80s Quintron (a paging transmitter manufacturer) took a long look at the problems facing simulcast and decided to correct the problems. First we (yes, I worked there) approached simulcast as a system instead of individual pieces of equipment. We then took each piece of the system and matched the electrical characteristics to each other, removing or redesigning any circuits that could cause a problem. We did this for wireline systems and radio links. We then worked out procedures to optimize a system for any type of area (urban, suburban, open country, etc.). The rest is history. Wide area paging systems started popping up all over the country (and a good part of the world). There were even two-way voice systems (some very large). There was such a demand for paging (and messaging) higher speeds were required to handle the capacity.
Today, most of the early type systems have been replaced with newer technologies. While high-stability oscillators are still in use in the transmitters, the rest of the modern simulcast system is new. The analog paging transmitters have been replaced with precision digital transmitters. GPS has allowed systems to use store-and-forward methods that have superior phase and delay characteristics that are far better than any analog system.
Store-and-forward uses GPS to provide a precise timing pulse to synchronize various circuits starting with the NOC system controller and the individual transmitter simulcast controllers. The timing pulses are corrected for geographic position by the GPS system. Data generated in the NOC forms the paging codes and message data and assigns a time slot (a given number of clock pulses after the transmitter controllers receive the data) to transmit that particular information. Each transmitter transmits the page/message based on what the NOC timing has indicated, plus or minus any time offsets programmed into each controller. This method removes any time and phase differences introduced by the distribution medium.
With the advent of store-and-forward it is again possible to use phone lines or microwave or satellite systems, as well as radio links, to distribute the signal to transmitters. Systems can now cover large areas (nationwide, regional) with little or no problems (but setup and maintenance procedures are still required). Although some smaller systems and voice systems still use analog transmitters and link distribution, most have switched to pure digital.
With the advent of modern cellular and its attendant messaging features paging has lost some of its luster. However, hundreds of small systems, as well as some larger systems, continue to provide service to thousands of customers who demand the best possible coverage and assured message delivery.
What started as a simple adjunct service has, for almost 50 years, continued to deliver what the customers want and need. I don’t think paging will ever go away!
Anyone wishing a more in-depth engineering paper on this subject can request it by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org I will email you the paper.
Dennis Cameron, along with Bill Hays, own Telcom Technologies Associates, a consulting firm specializing in RF communications. He has extensive experience in high-speed paging, satellite communications, two-way communications, IP distribution, microwave and communications control systems. Most of the last 35 years has been spent in engineering management with most of the time being "hands-on" management. In addition, Cameron has had multiple patents issued in the field of radio communications and has done advanced communications research with the University of Mississippi. Cameron was one of the prime developers of modern simulcasting and has published several papers and articles on the subject. He has designed and implemented many one-way and two-way simulcast systems.
We at Unication have listened and delivered.
About Unication Co., Ltd.
|BLOOSTON, MORDKOFSKY, DICKENS, DUFFY & PRENDERGAST, LLP|
BloostonLaw Telecom Update
FCC Seeks Comment On Implementing Grant Program For Alerts Under WARN Act
Title VI of the Security and Accountability For Every Port (SAFE Port) Act, and the Warning, Alert, and Response Network (WARN) Act, establish a process for commercial mobile service providers to voluntarily elect to transmit emergency alerts. Section 605(a) of the WARN Act establishes a grant program for the installation of technologies in remote communities to enable residents of those communities to receive emergency alerts.
Specifically, Section 605(a) of the WARN Act provides that the “Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere, in consultation with the Secretary of Homeland Security, shall establish a program under which grants may be made to provide for outdoor alerting technologies in remote communities effectively unserved by commercial mobile service (as determined by the FCC within 180 days after the date of enactment of this Act) for the purpose of enabling residents of those communities to receive emergency alerts.”
Thus, the FCC has issued a Public Notice asking how it should interpret “remote communities effectively unserved by commercial mobile service,” as required under the WARN Act.
“Remote Communities.” In a Report and Order modifying certain regulations and policies to facilitate the deployment of wireless services in rural areas, the Commission, determined to define “rural area” as: “those counties (or equivalent) with a population density of 100 persons per square mile or less, based upon the most recently available Census data.” In reaching this definition of “rural area,” the Commission found that it was important that the definition be easy to administer and understand. The Commission also sought to “ensure that its policies are appropriately tailored to promote service to consumers in rural areas,” and stated that this definition serves as a “practical guideline” to “maintain continuity with respect to existing definitions of rural area that have been tailored to apply to specific policies” and “will apply for current or future Commission wireless radio service rules, policies and analyses for which the term has not been expressly defined.”
The FCC asks whether the Commission’s definition of a “rural area” also would be appropriate for defining “remote communities” under the WARN Act. Would this definition be of equal benefit for purposes of administering the grant program envisioned by Congress under Section 605(a)? The FCC also seeks comment on other possible interpretations of “remote communities.”
“Commercial Mobile Service.” Section 602(b)(1)(A) of the WARN Act specifically defines “commercial mobile service” by cross-reference to the definition of “commercial mobile service” in Section 332(d)(1) of the Communications Act. Section 20.3 of the Commission’s rules defines “commercial mobile radio service” in a manner that is similar to the definition of “commercial mobile service.” Should the FCC interpret the term “commercial mobile service” to have the same meaning as “commercial mobile radio service” for purposes of implementing Section 605(a) of the WARN Act? The FCC seeks comment on this and other possible interpretations.
“Effectively unserved.” The FCC believes the phrase “effectively unserved” modifies the phrase “remote communities,” and that the intent of this language is to identify those remote communities that would not be able to receive emergency warning alerts from commercial mobile service providers who voluntarily elect to transmit emergency alerts. The FCC seeks comment on possible interpretations of the phrase “effectively unserved.” Should effectively unserved mean that commercial mobile radio services are not available to any consumers at all in a “remote community,” a significant portion of consumers, or some portion of consumers? How should the unavailability of commercial mobile radio services be demonstrated? Should a variety of means be used, such as coverage maps from service providers, technical analyses, field tests, or subscriber levels?
Comments in this PS Docket No. 07-8 proceeding are due February 6, and replies are due February 22.
Source: Blooston, Mordkofsky, Dickens, Duffy and Prendergast, LLP
For additional information, contact Hal Mordkofsky at 202-828-5520 or email@example.com
Beeper And Pager Services Ending In Taiwan
05:17 PM, January 31st 2007
Beeper and pager service, the most convenient means of communication until several years ago, will soon go into history in Taiwan, Taiwan's telecommunications monopoly Chunghwa Telecom said Wednesday.
Starting Thursday, Chunghwa Telecom will terminate beeper and pager service due to the decline in subscribers caused by the emergence of cell phones, Chunghwa Telecom said.
Subscribers to beeper and pager services can switch their pager and beeper numbers to cell phone numbers - or buy a 3G cell phone - at a discount.
Chunghwa Telecom launched beeper and pager services in Taiwan in 1975. The number of clients surged to one million by 1992 and reached its peak of 2.6 million by 1998.
Since then, due to the arrival of cell phones, beeper and pager business has plunged. Nowadays only a small number of Taiwanese use beepers and pagers, more out of nostalgia than for convenience.
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Pinky's signs off
Owner says Pinky's Wireless can't compete with rivals.
By Claudia Grisales
John and Ted LaTouf, raised in a family of newspaper workers, didn't know much about technology.
But in 1990, they launched a pager business out of a check-cashing store with a 30-foot pink inflated gorilla on top that grew into a thriving local company.
Its jingle was set to "The Flintstones" then ("Pinky's, come to Pinky's"), and the company aired a local ad during the 2001 Super Bowl featuring Austin homeless icon Leslie Cochran in a pink bikini.
In its heyday, Pinky's Wireless netted $100,000 a month, had 15 locations and more than 150 workers. Its customers included some of the area's top musicians, Amy's Ice Creams and staffers for Govs. Rick Perry and George W. Bush.
"We felt like we were kings of the city," said John LaTouf, who co-founded the company with his brother at South Congress Avenue and East Riverside Drive.
But last month, LaTouf paid his last 30 workers and pulled down his signs. LaTouf, who also is a commercial real estate agent, is trying to lease out the chain's six empty stores.
He said Pinky's could no longer compete against rivals such as Best Buy Co. Inc., Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Verizon Communications Inc. For the past five years, the company swung between making money and losing as much as $30,000 a month.
La Touf said he brought in consultants and accountants but could not turn Pinky's around. Late last year, he decided to call it a day and move on to other enterprises.
"I don't want to be known as the Pinky's guy for the rest of my life," LaTouf said. "That's not my best body of work."
LaTouf said he told key workers several weeks in advance but regrets that he didn't hold a company-wide meeting to say he was turning over much of the business to a former employee, who tried unsuccessfully to make it work under a different name and strategy.
Customers who think they are owed a refund can send requests to 1725 E. Riverside Drive.
Despite the sudden end, Pinky's legacy will be hard to erase, longtime customers said.
When Amy's Ice Creams was having trouble with its previous wireless company, "they went out of their way help us," founder Amy Simmons said. "He was really serving everybody."
When Austin blues musician Jon Blondell was going through some tough times, John LaTouf "gave me a phone for free. How many people would do that? It wasn't about making a buck with him; it was about helping people first."
The store got its name during an ordinance fight with the city, which tried to force the brothers to remove the pink gorilla from on top of the stores. The brothers fought back with a "don't get stinky with Pinky" campaign and eventually adopted the name for the business, which originally was called Commstar Communications.
The funny name and quirky ads worked, but the brothers also were smart businessmen, said Steve Bercu, co-owner of BookPeople.
In the early days, Bercu said, "they were the only guys that knew what was going on. They had pagers and nobody had technology of any kind."
The LaTouf brothers didn't intend to become telecom entrepreneurs. But when the check-cashing business began to falter, they looked around for another way to make money. At the time, pagers were beginning to take hold, and the big pager companies needed retail outlets. Pinky's had an instant niche.
The brothers stumbled at times. After a sharp-eyed employee noticed that they weren't billing all their pager customers, that revenue rose from $10,000 a month to $50,000.
They also had plenty of lucky breaks that helped Pinky's prosper.
But the landscape changed as the big telecom companies began opening their own retail outlets, and big-box retailers undercut Pinky's prices.
"It's like a tree. The limbs start to get heavy from all the people trying to make a living," said Jim Nolen, a business professor at the University of Texas whose advice John LaTouf sought after Ted died in 2001. "With big boxes . . . and the telcos, he just got squeezed in the middle."
Pinky's had a great ride. But LaTouf said he began to think about letting go a few years ago after Ted and his mother died within a few days of each other. Jerry, another of his six brothers, died the next year.
"If I can teach anything as a dad, it's that businesses and people go away," said LaTouf, who has three children. "They don't go on forever. This is a cycle. And this is something that is very dear to me."
Source: American-Statesman.com (Austin, Texas)
• FIREHOUSES • SCHOOLS • PUBLIC FACILITIES • GOVERNMENT FACILITIES • EMERGENCY ROOMS •
WHAT DO FEDERAL AND STATE GOVERNMENT AGENCIES, FORTUNE 500 COMPANIES, WISPS, HAVE IN COMMON?
THEY ALL USE NIGHTHAWK.
Nighthawk Systems Inc. manufactures low cost and reliable remote control products for fire house alerting, volunteer alerting, activation of warning signs and sirens, and a number of applications for public safety. The Company manufactures the EA1 and the FAS-8 which have been designed specifically for these applications. Both products are paging based and will work with any public or private paging network. They are available in all VHF, UHF, and 900 MHz paging frequencies. The products can serve as the primary notification system or an excellent, low-cost backup to existing systems.
The EA1 is the solution for remotely activating public warning signage. Examples include tornado sirens, flash flood warnings, fire danger, Amber Alert, icy roads, etc. The EA1 can also send text messages to scrolling signs. This can occur in conjunction with the activation of audible alarms and visual strobes. This is ideal for public notification in buildings, schools, hotels, factories, etc. The group call feature allows for any number of signs or flashing lights to be activated at the same time over a wide geographic area. In addition, the EA1 Emergency Alert is the perfect solution for low cost yet highly effective alerting of volunteer fire fighters in their home. When activated the EA1 will emit an audible alarm and activate the power outlet on the units faceplate. A common setup is to simply place the EA1 on a table and plug a lamp into the faceplate. When paged from dispatch or any touch tone phone the EA1 will awaken the fire fighter to a lit room. As an option the EA1 can be ordered with a serial cable, allowing for attachment of a serial printer. When paged the alphanumeric message will be printed out at the same time the alarm sounds and the outlet is activated. The EA1 is an ideal complement to alphanumeric belt pagers common to volunteers.
The FAS-8 is designed for activating one or more relays in a firehouse and if desired, printing the alphanumeric message to a serial printer. For this application the FAS-8 is set to activate upon receiving the proper paging cap code sent from 911 dispatch. Up to eight different devices can be activated all with individual time functions. The most common devices to turn on include the PA amplifier, audible wake up alarm, and house lights. The most common device turned off is the stove. The FAS-8 can accept up to 8 different cap codes and have separate relay and time functions per cap code. This allows for different alerting to be accomplished at the same physical location depending upon which cap code is sent. This can be very helpful when fire crews and medical crews are housed in the same building.
Put the innovative technology of Nighthawk to work for you. For more information on any of our products or services, please contact us.
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org CLICK TO E-MAIL
|LETTERS TO THE EDITOR|
Subject: Help Wanted
Date: February 1, 2007 4:25:40 PM CST
We are probably going to be looking for a programmer for ReFLEX to work over at SDC. In the past they have just gotten good programmers, but I would prefer trying to find someone with this protocol experience, hence your newsletter came to mind.
Do you do job postings? Or is it more of taking out an ad?
My number is below if you want to call me on Friday.
John D. Carlin
Office: (440) 582-8839
Subject: January 26 newsletter comment
Date: January 29, 2007 11:50:52 AM CST
I think your Wheel of Fortune concept is great and is something that Paging has long forgotten, and has to be reminded of occasionally to stimulate the mind to think of other alternative ideas for Paging use. It is good that you have brought this up again.
One of the uses shown on your "Wheel" is to a PDA. Swissphone made a "Paging adapter" that installed on a Palm PDA unit. This allowed a Paging carrier to send LARGE amounts of data directly to the PDA unit. The PDA's user could then "interface" with the paged data during the work day. At the end of the day the PDA could then be uploaded into a computer or network in the office with the results of the day's work . This particular paging adapter was available on VHF and UHF frequencies.
One of the biggest problems the Paging Industry is currently facing is that a majority of the new technical ideas out there require the need of at least a "return" acknowledgement that the data was received by the remote device, and was implemented. In this technical scenario, the One way Paging Industry will always lose out.
This brings me back to the problem Paging faces.
WE NEED A FREQUENCY FOR A "RETURN" PAGING CHANNEL !!!!
900 MHz. Paging:
This could be a 12.5 or 25 KHz frequency somewhere within the 900 MHz bands. Licensed or Un-licensed. Even a "Shared" use frequency, as the "return" transmissions would probably just be brief "status" bursts. The normal one way paging formats could be used to send the outgoing data, and some format (ASCII ?) could be sent back to give a "Status" of the reception of the transmitted data. This setup would not require a massive change of the Paging carrier's system, just a receiver overlay to receive and decode the "return" signal's transmissions. The use of the ReFLEX25 format would however be the best, thereby giving the Paging carrier the full capabilities of 2-way data, but would probably then require the Paging carrier to replace or upgrade their entire Paging system.
UHF and VHF Paging bands:
This could easily be done by getting the FCC to change the existing Part 90 rules regarding the use of these shared Paging Channels. The rules would need to be changed to allow the transmission of "Return" signals from mobile Paging receivers back to the originating Paging base station (Rule 90.35 # 36)
Specific frequencies 465.000, 157.740, and 158.460 MHz could be allocated for shared use of "return" transmissions. Due to the shakeout of paging licenses, some of these frequencies are currently vacant, and could be used for this concept. In areas that these frequencies are in use, the licensees could over a period of time, migrate their licenses to the use of this concept.
This would be in the Public Interest and go a long way to help the Paging Industry continue to provide a much needed communications service to this country.
Interstate Wireless, Inc. (Handy Page)
841 West Fairmont Dr., Suite 5
Tempe, Az. 85282
[Editor's note: Wayne knows that I don't agree with all his opinions but I do admire his creative spirit.]
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That's all for this week.
With best regards,
P.O. Box 13283
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