|FRIDAY - MARCH 9, 2007 - ISSUE NO. 252|
Dear friends of Wireless Messaging,
We are starting to have some warmer days here in central Illinois. I hope to get outside and do some work in the yard today as soon as I finish this newsletter.
Many thanks to all those who have taken the time to craft well-thought-out opinions on the use of ReFLEX by Public Safety agencies. The discussion will continue; I have been advised that more comments are being prepared.
I have added a news feed from Europe to my web site that contains the latest Amateur Radio News.
USA Mobility has released their fourth quarter 2006 financial results. Vince Kelly and his management team were very upbeat and optimistic during their conference call with investors yesterday. Both Vince and Peter Barnett made some important points about their network "rationalization." Some of us have feared that "rationalization" was just a euphemistic way of describing the dismantling of their paging network. They explained that as the network size is adjusted for today's reality and the fact that USA Mobility has "inherited" many more frequencies than they need through the acquisition of several (formerly) large paging companies, in many areas more transmitters are added to improve the coverage on the channel that they decide to keep.
Peter calls this their "go to frequency" — the one that they move everyone to in order to increase efficiency and reduce the cost of excess site rentals. This is saving the company millions of dollars and everyone should note that they are trying to make sure that their subscribers have at least as good coverage as they did before the area was rationalized. Often coverage in a given area gets improved in the process.
I think we can continue to be optimistic about the future of paging—at least until someone invents something better—and so far, no one has—in my opinion. We may never see a return to 45 million users of public paging services in the US, unless of course, our government pulls their head out of the sand and decides to hang a public alerting device on the wall in every home, business, and school in the country. I hope it won't take another 9/11 disaster to convince them to do so.
Back to the topic.
I am not the least embarrassed to tell you that I had to look up one of the words that I heard on the USMO conference call:
Accretion can also mean: "Growth or increase in size by gradual external addition, fusion, or inclusion."
Please check out the USA Mobility news release below for more details. Subscriber losses continue to improve, expenses continue to be reduced, and capital is being returned to their shareholders.
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.
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A resilient and effective future in paging
Published February 2007, The BAPCO Journal
Paging - is there still a requirement in public safety?
With the growing usage of SMS messaging, are paging systems likely to become obsolete in the face of mobile phone technology or will they remain a reliable and cost effective means of communication within the mission critical arena? Outlining this very point, The BAPCO Journal takes a closer look at the importance that both wide and local area paging systems play and examines how the systems are likely to develop in the future...
The unfortunate events in London on 7th July 2005 demonstrated the importance of effective communications in responding to and managing major incidents and the increasing role that mobile messaging plays in emergency and business continuity plans.
Whilst events demonstrated the growing role and acceptance of text messaging for critical messaging, it also reinforced the role paging still has to play in communicating vital information quickly. Paging's inherent broadcast capability and protection from public peak traffic loads during such emergencies, ensures that even though the paging network experienced record traffic levels on 7/7, messaging was well within capacity, and the delivery of critical messages in a timely manner was unaffected. This mirrors the findings of several reports into communications during the 9/11 disaster in New York, which highlighted the critical role paging played.
Michael Cassidy, president of the London Chamber of Commerce, reinforced this point in an article in the Times soon after the July 7th attacks in London, Cassidy commented "...firms needed to be able to communicate through a secure paging system in the event of further attacks...”
Furthermore, the frequencies used by pagers and their infrastructure are governed and have less tendencies to interfere with sensitive electronic equipment, hence the reliance of hospitals on pagers. In addition to which, since pagers can also be made intrinsically safe, for use in hazardous environments such as petrol refineries there will remain a need for such a reliable and resilient form of communication.
Discussing how pagers can remain effective with the growing usage of SMS messaging, Paul Williams, Lynxpro pointed out, “Ownership is a fundamental reason why paging will remain a major requirement within the mission critical arena, which ensures system reliability and performance.
“In the case of local area paging the entire system is owned by the user, therefore there is no dependency on a third party to provide the service. We also know from experience that in the case of emergency either the third-party network fails to operate because of lack of capacity of in severe situations is closed down as happens when there is a risk of a third party network being used to create the emergency, such as remote detonation of bombs etc. Whilst these instances are thankfully rare, the possibility does remove the ultimate reliability of such systems to operate when they are needed most.”
Pagers were cited in the London Regional Resilience Forum Multi-Agency Debrief report, (as published on 23rd September 2006). Key elements such as: Lessons (page 7) “Responders must not rely on mobile phones for critical functions in a crisis. Emergency responders need to have a dedicated communications that will work in an emergency.”
''Pagers: so long as they are sufficiently independent of other networks, consider using pagers for alerting and mobilisation, including preset pager groups, where this function is critical''
Progress since 7 July - London Ambulance Service (page 27) “LAS managers have all been given radio pagers which are resilient in a major incident”
What happened to the networks? (page 42) “Pagers: They can enable messages to get through when mobile phone networks are congested. COLP (City of London Police) successfully used its pager alert scheme on 7 July to provide key business personnel with incident progress information.”
Recommendations (page 44) “Pagers: So long as they are sufficiently independent of other networks consider using pagers for alerting and mobilisation”
Commenting on the report, Chris Jones, managing director, PageOne said, “PageOne welcomes the findings of the report and reiterates that paging still plays a very important role in providing real time information to many organisations today.”
Is SMS technology impacting on paging?
Discussing the growth of SMS technology and the impact it has had on paging, Jones stated, “SMS text messaging is playing an increasing role within business. Businesses have realised that a resilient communication strategy, uses a combination of technologies such as paging and SMS. As a disaster will inevitably exploit weaknesses in any communications strategy, which is over reliant on a single network or technology - landlines can be damaged, mobile networks can be overloaded.
“It is thus crucial that businesses ensure that they have effective plans for managing and responding to emergency, disaster or even system failure. Many organisations are indeed currently reviewing their communication plans.”
Williams added, “The technology used by SMS follows the same technology as radio paging. The advances in the use of mobile telephony has greatly benefited radio paging systems, which have developed at the same pace as mobile phones. In the case of ‘On-site’ radio paging, such systems offer a number of advantages compared to SMS messages. For example, ‘On-Site’ paging systems are owned and controlled by the user who has complete control over the system. Messages are transmitted and received almost instantly. Unlike SMS?systems where the volume of transmissions at any one time may delay up to several hours the receipt of the transmitted message. Further more the on-going cost of on-site paging is very little as the cost per message is zero!”
Also commenting, Peter Moss, product manager, Stanley Security Solutions’ staff protection systems said, “The growth in SMS technology has clearly had an impact on paging, offering significant advantages not least by enabling people to reply to a message using the same device. The one potential downside to SMS is that network coverage may not always be as good but then the extent of wide area pager coverage was often unpredictable.
“I would argue that whilst wide area paging faces a difficult future, there are still major opportunities and benefits for on-site paging, even in the mobile phone era, for example in hospitals, prisons and secure units as well as in shopping malls, factories or any application where deaf people need to be alerted to fire alarms.
“In the hospital environment for example where both emergency and routine calls are made using pagers, one major benefit over SMS is that you have guaranteed control over the radio link frequency. Radio frequency at these sites is controlled by OFCOM and it is able to grant or refuse licence applications to ensure that pager messages are not subject to interference.
“In contrast, GSM communication is often compromised at the very time when it's needed most, because in an emergency everyone automatically reaches for their mobile phone and networks struggle to cope. The aftermath of the London tube bombs was a classic example of this,” he concluded.
Key drivers for paging systems
Discussing what the key drivers for paging systems are, Jones explained, “Using VHF frequencies and based on narrow band broadcast technology, paging is based on a worldwide standard, and with little to go wrong has consistently paid its way. Pagers were never subject to the WAP or MMS phenomena of being a technology before its time, or a solution looking for a problem. Paging did what it said on the box, delivered one way alphanumeric messages with an extremely high degree of coverage and probability that the message would arrive.
“Pagers are simple, use little energy, and need very few transmitters; the technology is low cost and reliable. What's more, coverage far exceeds that of mobile technology and most importantly, if your application involves receiving alphanumeric content that is critical to the task, there is no better way than paging.”
In fact we are subject to paging technologies every day, but are seldom aware of it. Many modern bus stops with LCD displays showing routes and times before each bus are based on paging. Modern train timetables use paging as does the streaming technology showing stock prices or sports scores. Whilst these are the more obvious examples, there exists a huge market in both commercial and public sector projects. Any application that responds to a trigger to pump out critical information is generally a paging application. Hospitals use pagers to contact medical staff; the railway network uses pagers to inform engineering, maintenance and management about the movement of trains; water authorities use automatic measuring and trigger mechanisms to alert personnel to the changes in river and reservoir levels. Moving away from public infrastructure projects, we find paging used in food storage and retail to alert staff of temperature changes in freezing and chilling boxes, and business continuity and disaster recovery companies rely on paging as the alternative to easily destroyed mobile networks.
Williams adds, “The key drivers behind paging systems are mainly, cost efficiency and reliability. Where a paging system is used in hospitals as a 'bleeper' system to summons attendants or where the system is used as a fire alarm paging, the messages must be transmitted and received almost instantly. Any delay could be life threatening.”
The evolution of paging
Since the events of 7/7 PageOne has worked closely with both public service agencies and corporate businesses to assist them in reviewing and implementing robust business continuity broadcast messaging services. Many organisations have made a conscious decision to diversify their communications service provision such that their paging and messaging provider is independent of their mobile phone provider. And as a consequence PageOne has seen an increase in demand for both paging and SMS services that integrate together, giving enhanced resilience and flexibility for emergency and first responder solutions.
Looking at on-site paging, Moss suggests, “In terms of on-site paging, there has been a greater move over the past 12 months towards two way messaging. Many pagers now automatically send a return message confirming receipt and some also have optional reply facilities so they can indicate whether response has also been actioned.
“Other pagers are also able to transmit signals which pinpoint the precise location of their owner. Within prisons or high security units these can be particularly important enabling prison officers or security guards to alert colleagues to an incident or attack and prompt immediate response to the precise location.
“Because of the extreme accuracy of location, they can even determine whether a guard is inside or outside a cell, an important counter to, for example, prisoner bullying allegations.
“The sophistication of these pagers also provides a useful audit trail post-emergency or incident. The pager data can establish precisely when messages were sent, received and responded to, ensuring much greater accountability.”
In agreement with the continual evolution of paging, Williams added, “Paging systems are continually evolving, the two drivers of this evolution are new technology as it is developed and by the users themselves in their expectancy as to exactly what they want a paging system to do.
“Smaller and more compact pagers for example, The advancement of multi-line messages shown on the pager screen. The integration of paging into existing systems such as the development of automated reminders in an office environment utilising existing infrastructure such computer networking. The instant contact of waiting customers in the hospitality sector.”
And to the future...
PageOne believes that paging has a number of key benefits that ensure it will continue to play a significant role in the UK telecommunications market in years to come. These include:
Cost effectiveness: PageOne's paging services offer considerable savings over other types of messaging services for those customers that send a large number of messages per month. PageOne charges its customers a standard monthly rate for paging that includes messages costs. This represents a significant saving for many clients.
Unique broadcast ability: The unique capability of PageOne's paging network guarantees that, if a message is sent to a number of recipients, then all of those recipients will receive the message at the same time. It also guarantees the timing of the delivery of the message, with no arbitrary delays caused by its network, such as those that can occur when sending SMS messages. This can be vital in industries such as transport where rapid notification across several levels and sites is crucial when problems occur, and for organisations such as the emergency services, for whom immediate and simultaneous message transmission is key.
Independence of network: PageOne's paging network has complete independence from GSM and other public mobile phone networks. This is an extremely valuable asset and can prove crucial in disaster, accident and terrorist situations when mobile phone networks become quickly saturated with non-essential traffic, under which circumstances the paging network continues to provide customers with guaranteed reliability and access to key personnel.
Restricted environment usage: Unlike mobile phones, pagers can be used in restricted environments such as hospitals and computer rooms. This is crucial, not only to customers such as the NHS but also to customers such as the major communications companies.
For companies that select a messaging tool based on one or more of the above criteria, paging is the only option and thus it forms a key element of many companies' and public service organisations' communications strategies.
Integration: PageOne have moved beyond the simple text message and now, through its Oventus architecture, enables a mixture of paging, SMS, and email content to be delivered and managed via connectivity options such as secure VPN, IP and XML. Though the sophistication of such systems is an integration point where organisations with complex communications requirements can mix and match, the USP of paging still resides in its three core tenets: simplicity, stability and cost.
In concluding, Stanley Security Systems suggests that One of the future trends will be towards the use of Wi-Fi technology. Although this requires a certain amount of bandwidth, the type of short messages associated with paging should not require too much space provided the coverage is good enough.
Traditional on-site paging in which organisations maintain control over their own networks, fully licensed and regulated by OFCOM will, however, continue to be viable for many years yet to come.
London Regional Resilience report
London Regional Resilience report
Source: The BAPCO Journal
(BAPCO = British Association of Public Safety Communication Officers)
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New ReFLEX Telemetry Module
Download the complete specification here.
WiPath Announces A Major New Release of LogPage
March 5, 2007
WiPath Communications is pleased to announce that it has just released version 3 of its LogPage message logging software.
The latest version of LogPage dramatically extends the functions of this application to include a very flexible pager message filtering capability and extensive reporting capabilities including the ability to resend messages to email, pagers, SMS and other wireless devices. LogPage is also now available in a networkable version that centralizes the message gathering but enables the message logs to be viewed on multiple workstations.
The new version of LogPage also replaces the RePage application as it incorporates the message rebroadcast functions of that product. LogPage interfaces with WiPath’s paging data products including the PDT2000, PDR2000 and the new PRR2000 ReFlex receiver.
WiPath’s Interceptor, 4 channel logging system, which is based on LogPage has also been upgraded to incorporate these new functions.
According to George Rishfeld, VP Marketing for North America, “WiPath’s goal is to continue to lead the industry in the provision of innovative paging solutions.”
WiPath is a leader in the provision of intelligent solutions in both paging and mobile data with a wide range of innovative solutions including local and wide-area paging solutions, mobile data terminals, dispatch and field service solutions, vehicle tracking and management. WiPath specializes in providing both off-the-shelf and customized solutions to the paging and mobile communications industries. Website: www.wipath.com
Source: WiPath Communications
Intelligent Solutions for Paging & Wireless Data
Wipath develops and manufactures a wide range if highly unique and innovative hardware and software solutions in paging and mobile data. Talk to us about your special project. If we haven’t already done it we probably can.
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
HEARTLAND NAMED U.S. DISTRIBUTOR FOR ALTAI WiFi CELLULAR BASE STATION
Altai Uses Smart Antenna Technology for Next Generation Municipal WiFi Product
“WiFi for Everyone”
CRYSTAL LAKE, ILLINOIS, March 1, 2007 – Lowell Todd, President of Heartland Communications, and Chi Hung Lin, CEO and President of Altai Technologies, announced today that Heartland Communications will become an authorized US distributor of Altai Technologies’ WiFi cellular base station-- a new generation of metropolitan wireless broadband product based on smart antenna technology.
Utilizing the knowledge gained from developing the remote sensing capabilities used by NASA to view Mars’ surface, engineers at Altai Technologies have created smart antenna signal processing technologies for a longer range, less expensive alternative for the hot municipal WiFi market. Now being used throughout the world, the Altai Technologies’ A8 base station has been proven effective in both urban and remote applications.
Todd feels this is a major breakthrough for municipal applications. “People who live in small-to-medium sized communities have limited and often expensive choices for broadband access,” he said. “This solution allows municipalities to provide a cost-effective, necessary service to their citizens while providing a solid return on their investment. This is the kind of responsible win-win solution most municipalities are looking for.”
Heartland Communications brings the ease of a turnkey installation of this new technology coupled with the on-going support needed to seamlessly integrate the system into homes and businesses.
The Altai Difference
Chi Hung Lin, CEO and President of Altai Technologies, was enthusiastic about bringing the Altai products to the US with Heartland Communications. “The US market is perfect for Altai’s cellular WiFi base station,” said Lin, “with large geographic spaces, an educated, technologically ‘tuned-in’ population and municipal managers with the drive to deliver superior service that is reliable and extremely reasonable. We are pleased to be able to partner with a company like Heartland that has the know-how to market, deliver and maintain our system to our new base.”
“We are ready to market and deliver this technology today,” said Todd. “That is one of the great components of this partnership: with their product and our market and service experience, we are set to go now.”
About Heartland Communications
For more information: www.wifimycity.com
About Altai Technologies
The A8 WiFi cellular base station has been proven in the field in various regions and countries, including cities in the US, China, Europe, Middle East and Asian-Pacific countries.
Altai has recently closed its Series A equity financing with a total amount of US $10 million. The Company has a strong management team with in-depth experience from leading communications service providers and equipment vendors, and the R&D expertise spans the whole spectrum of RF and networking systems.
For more information: www.altaitechnologies.com
Source: Altai Technologies
Messaging & Cellular
Call Or E-mail For More Information
USA Mobility Reports Fourth Quarter and 2006 Operating Results
Subscriber Trends Improve, Expenses Reduced and Capital Returned to Shareholders; Key Verticals of Healthcare, Government and Large Enterprise Targeted
ALEXANDRIA, Va., March 7, 2007 /PRNewswire-FirstCall via COMTEX News Network/ — USA Mobility, Inc. (Nasdaq: USMO), a leading provider of wireless messaging and communications services, today announced operating results for the fourth quarter and year ended December 31, 2006.
Reported revenue was $497.7 million for 2006, compared to $618.6 million in 2005. EBITDA (Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, amortization and accretion) for 2006 was $140.4 million, or 28.2 percent of revenue, while operating income was $67.1 million. Net income for 2006 was $40.2 million, or $1.46 per fully diluted share, compared to $12.9 million, or $0.47 per fully diluted share, for 2005.
For the fourth quarter, reported revenues totaled $116.0 million, compared to $119.6 million in the third quarter of 2006 and $143.4 million in the fourth quarter of 2005. EBITDA for the fourth quarter of 2006 was $30.8 million, or 26.6 percent of revenue, and operating income was $13.6 million. Net income for the fourth quarter was $8.3 million, or $0.30 per fully diluted share, compared to $7.9 million, or $0.29 per fully diluted share, in the year-earlier quarter.
Key results in 2006 included:
"We made significant progress during 2006 toward reducing costs and enhancing operating efficiencies despite continued competitive challenges," said Vincent D. Kelly, president and chief executive officer. "In addition, we continued to see improvement in subscriber trends — including quarterly increases in gross pager placements — and generated a sufficient level of cash flow to return capital to shareholders in the form of cash distributions."
Kelly said USA Mobility redefined its sales and marketing strategy during the year to highlight its capabilities as a provider of multiple wireless services. "We reorganized and began to enhance our sales and marketing organizations while launching a corporate re-branding program to more effectively communicate the scope and depth of our service offerings beyond basic paging and two-way messaging," he noted. "Under our new corporate logo and tagline, 'One Source for Wireless,' we've successfully created greater awareness of the Company's expanded services within our customer base as well as generated considerable visibility among a wider set of potential enterprise customers."
The Company also refocused its sales and marketing strategy around its core business segments of healthcare, government and large enterprises during 2006. "By concentrating on these key vertical markets," Kelly said, "we hope to solidify our existing customer relationships and leverage our accumulated knowledge of these industries to broaden our presence and create new sales and service opportunities."
Thomas L. Schilling, chief financial officer, said: "We continued to strengthen our financial position in 2006, principally through numerous cost reduction initiatives including our network rationalization program. In addition, we paid out $99.8 million in cash distributions during 2006 and ended the year with $66.5 million in cash."
Schilling added: "We are pleased the financial guidance we provided for 2006 was on target. Revenue of $497.7 million was within the guidance range of $495 million to $500 million; operating expenses (excluding depreciation, amortization and accretion) of $357.3 million were slightly above the revised guidance range of $354 million to $356 million but well below the original guidance range of $370 million to $380 million; and capital expenditures of $21.0 million were within the guidance range of $20 million to $22 million. With respect to financial guidance for 2007, the Company expects revenue to be in a range from $400 million to $410 million, operating expenses, excluding depreciation, amortization and accretion, to be in a range from $295 million to $300 million, and capital expenses in a range from $18 million to $20 million."
USA Mobility plans to host a conference call for investors on its fourth quarter and 2006 results at 11:00 a.m. Eastern Time on Thursday, March 8, 2007. The call-in number is 866-409-1555 (toll-free) or 913-312-1235 (toll). The pass code for the call is 2684172. A replay of the call will be available from 3:00 p.m. on March 8 until 11:59 p.m. on Thursday, March 22, 2007. The replay number is 888-203-1112 (toll-free) or 719-457-0820 (toll). The pass code for the replay is 2684172.
About USA Mobility
USA Mobility, Inc., headquartered in Alexandria, Virginia, is a comprehensive provider of reliable and affordable wireless communications solutions to the healthcare, government, large enterprise and emergency response sectors. As a single-source provider, USA Mobility's focus is on the business-to-business marketplace and supplying wireless connectivity solutions to more than 80 percent of the Fortune 1000 companies. The Company operates nationwide networks for both one-way paging and advanced two-way messaging services. In addition, USA Mobility offers mobile voice and data services through Sprint Nextel, including BlackBerry devices and GPS location applications. The Company's product offerings include customized wireless connectivity systems for the healthcare, government and other campus environments. USA Mobility also offers M2M (machine-to-machine) telemetry solutions for numerous applications that include asset tracking, utility meter reading and other remote device monitoring applications on a national scale. For further information visit http://www.usamobility.com.
Safe Harbor Statement under the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act: Statements contained herein or in prior press releases which are not historical fact, such as statements regarding USA Mobility's expectations for future operating and financial performance, are forward-looking statements for purposes of the safe harbor provisions under the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These forward-looking statements involve risks and uncertainties that may cause USA Mobility's actual results to be materially different from the future results expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements. Factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those expectations include, but are not limited to, declining demand for paging products and services, the ability to continue to reduce operating expenses, future capital needs, competitive pricing pressures, competition from both traditional paging services and other wireless communications services, government regulation, reliance upon third-party providers for certain equipment and services, as well as other risks described from time to time in periodic reports and registration statements filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Although USA Mobility believes the expectations reflected in the forward-looking statements are based on reasonable assumptions, it can give no assurance that its expectations will be attained. USA Mobility disclaims any intent or obligation to update any forward-looking statements.Contact: Bob Lougee (703) 721-3080
Source: USA Mobility Press Release (with financial tables)
GTES has recently made the strategic decision to expanding its development activities to include wireless location technologies; a market that researchers forecast could reach $3.6 billion by 2010. In support of this new strategic direction, GTES has developed SHERLOC™ a complete one-stop wireless location service, providing the flexibility of being protocol neutral and network agnostic. Targeted at business customers who need to track their high-value shipments or better manage their service or delivery fleets, SHERLOC™ is a hosted application that combines configuration flexibility with ease of use.
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.
GTES is the only Glenayre authorized software support provider in the Paging industry. With over 200 years of combined experience in Glenayre hardware and software support, GTES offers the industry the most professional support and engineering development staff available.
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BloostonLaw Telecom Update
Plot Thickens As Frontline Wireless Offers 700 MHz Plan That May Trump Cyren Call’s Proposal For Free Commercial Spectrum
McCain Introduces SAVES LIVES Act; FCC Seeks Comments On Cyren Call Plan
In comments on the FCC’s proposal to allocate 12 MHz of the 700 MHz public safety spectrum from wideband to broadband use in PS Docket No. 06-229, Frontline Wireless appears to be attempting to trump the request of Cyren Call that virtually all of the Upper 700 MHz band designated for auction be handed over for public safety use. Additionally, U.S. Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) who initially backed Cyren Call, has introduced S.744, the Spectrum Availability for Emergency-Response and Law-Enforcement to Improve Vital Emergency Services Act or SAVES LIVES Act, which closely resembles the Frontline proposal.
Generally, Frontline attempts to anticipate the shortcomings in Cyren Call’s proposal in a so-called “Public Safety Broadband Deployment Plan”: Rather than requesting additional spectrum from the Upper 700 MHz band for a nationwide public safety licensee without charge, Frontline wants the FCC to establish a 10 MHz “E -Block” in the Upper 700 MHz commercial spectrum that is dedicated to a public-private partnership.
This “public safety broadband block” would be auctioned to a single company that agrees to the following terms and license conditions:
In exchange, Frontline’s proposal would give the winning E-Block bidder an exclusive right to use the excess capacity of the public safety broadband spectrum on a secondary, unconditionally preemptible basis. Thus, the E-Block licensee would operate on the commercial spectrum on a wholesale utility operating model while at the same time utilizing excess capacity in the public safety band, on a secondary basis, for its own commercial operations.
However, as BloostonLaw’s recent comments in this docket pointed out, the 4G (e.g., Wi-MAX) technologies that will be used for the network are extremely efficient, and will provide more than enough capacity for Frontline and others to provide commercial broadband service, including VOIP, without much risk that a localized emergency will preempt commercial service.
Frontline is headed up by Hayes Griffin (founding CEO and president of Carolina-based Vanguard Cellular), Janice Obuchowski (former President of NextWave Personal Communications and former chief of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), and former FCC Chairman, Reed Hundt.
Frontline’s proposal is very detailed, and it addresses some of the perceived shortcomings in the Cyren Call proposal – e.g., Frontline claims that it won’t delay the 700 MHz auction schedule or require further legislation.
Frontline even cites to Skype’s recent Petition (requesting that the Commission apply Carterfone principles to the wireless industry) and points out how their “open access” network would require the commercial entity leasing its E-Block spectrum to accommodate open devices, open services and content and open network services, at commercially reasonable rates.
Specifically, Frontline says, the Commission should require the E-Block licensee (including any commercial entity leasing E-Block spectrum) to:
Frontline says it will be submitting a more detailed explanation of these proposed requirements and how they would substantially promote and enhance the public interest in the Commission’s pending Upper 700 MHz service rules proceeding.
The Frontline proposal raises some of the same concerns for our small business and rural telephone clients that were raised by the Cyren Call proposal: If a significant portion of the Upper 700 MHz band is dedicated to the Frontline plan, it may jeopardize the proposal of the Balanced Consensus Plan to create one or more CMA-sized license blocks in the upcoming 700 MHz auction, thereby depriving small/rural carriers of realistic bidding opportunities. Also, the Frontline plan may create what amounts to a state subsidized competitor to fledgling rural wireless services, depending on how the Frontline operation is structured. Of course, the Frontline plan may also create roaming and other opportunities for small and rural carriers. As always, the devil is in the details. We will advise our clients when a comment cycle is set.
McCAIN INTRODUCES S.744, WHICH CLOSELY RESEMBLES FRONTLINE’s 700 MHz PROPOSAL
Senator McCain originally had promised to introduce legislation in support of the Cyren Call plan, but did not appear at a Senate Commerce Committee hearing on the proposal last month (BloostonLaw Telecom Update, February 14). In fact, the Committee itself gave the Cyren Call plan a rather cool reception. Then on March 1, McCain introduced S.744, a public-safety broadband bill that veers from the approach advocated by Cyren Call, and more closely resembles the Frontline plan.
McCain’s SAVES LIVES Act calls for the FCC to auction 30 megahertz at 700 MHz under a conditional license whereby the winning bidder would have to meet public safety specifications to operate a national, interoperable public safety broadband system.
More specifically, the bill would establish a national policy for public safety spectrum directing that the 24 MHz allocated by Congress to public safety in 1997 be used for state, local and regional interoperability and that 30 MHz in the 700 MHz band be available as needed for a national, interoperable public safety broadband network by local, state, regional and Federal first responders. These two networks would be interoperable, thereby allowing local, state, regional and Federal first responders to communicate. Congress has deemed spectrum in the 700 MHz band “ideal” for public safety communications because it can travel greater distances and penetrate obstacles better than spectrum higher in the frequency band.
The bill also would establish a “Public Safety Interoperable Working Group” to establish user-driven specifications for public safety’s use of the 30 MHz and then require the FCC to auction the 30 MHz under a conditional license that requires any winning bidder to meet public safety’s specifications to operate a national, interoperable public safety broadband network. If there is no winning bidder, then the 30 MHz license will revert to public safety, which could use the spectrum for a national, interoperable public safety broadband network and work with the FCC to auction excess non-emergency capacity.
To ensure public safety is using the spectrum effectively and efficiently, the bill would require the FCC to review public safety’s use of the 24 MHz to determine whether it could handle a national interoperable broadband network in addition to local, state and regional networks as technology improves. The bill would also require the FCC, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and public safety to review the possibility of moving most public safety communications to the 700 MHz and 800 MHz bands, thereby enhancing interoperability.
“As required by Congress,” Senator McCain said, “the FCC is slated to auction spectrum in the 700 MHz band by January 28, 2008. Except for the 24 MHz allocated to public safety, the remaining spectrum will be auctioned to commercial providers unless Congress dictates otherwise. Therefore any use of the 30 MHz by public safety must be considered quickly by Congress as the FCC would need to begin developing the rules for a conditional license by early fall to ensure that the auction date is not delayed.”
Public safety groups are not pleased with the McCain bill. “We strongly prefer legislation that grants a license for 30 megahertz in the 700 MHz band directly to a public safety broadband trust, thus ensuring that public-safety needs were given first priority in the deployment of the spectrum,” said the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, National Sheriffs’ Association, and International Association of Fire Chiefs in a joint statement. “We continue to urge Congress to adopt the PSBT model. Nevertheless, we appreciate Senator McCain’s efforts to open the debate, and look forward to working with him and others in Congress as we move forward to shape legislation to meet the critical need for public safety broadband communications capability.”
Cyren Call CEO Morgan O’Brien said: “We applaud Senator McCain for taking this first important step to translate this unanimous agreement into concrete legislative action. However, a subtle and critically important distinction remains in who holds the spectrum license. Cyren Call continues to believe that the Public Safety Broadband Trust must fill that role. The only way to make sure the right network for first responders gets built from the start—and staying true over time to public safety requirements as they inevitably change—is to place control over the network, along with the license to the spectrum, in the hands of public safety.”
O’Brien continued: “Does anybody remember NextWave? That debacle illustrates what happens when commercial entities promise what they need to promise to win an auction, only to renege on that promise, while retaining the spectrum license. In this situation, such an event would be tragic for public safety and the nation.”
COMMENTS DUE MARCH 16 ON CYREN CALL’s REQUEST FOR UPPER 70 MHz SPECTRUM
In a related proceeding, the FCC has set comment dates for Cyren Call Communications Corp.’s petition for reconsideration that seeks reallocation of 30 MHz of commercial spectrum in the 747-762 MHz and 777-792 MHz bands (i.e., most of TV channels 60-62 and 65-67 in the “Upper 700 MHz band”) and assignment of that spectrum without auction to a single licensee for deployment of a nationwide, broadband network for shared commercial and public safety use (BloostonLaw Telecom Update, February 7). Oppositions to Cyren Call’s petition in this RM-11348 proceeding are due March 16, and replies to oppositions are due 10 days thereafter on March 26.
As noted previously, the FCC 8th Floor has indicated that the Commission may try to hold the Upper 700 MHz band auction (Auction No. 31), as well as an auction of remaining “Lower 700 MHz band” licenses, as early as this August. The significance of a potentially accelerated auction schedule for our clients cannot be determined until it is known whether the FCC will go along with the pending proposal to reallocate one or more of the 700 MHz license blocks for Rural Service Area/Metropolitan Service Area-sized licenses. If these smaller licenses are not available, rural telcos and small businesses are not likely to be able to participate in the auction.
The proposed reallocation of TV channels 60-62 and 65- 67 would essentially gut the upcoming Upper 700 MHz band auction, which Congress has earmarked as a significant revenue source. It would also eliminate the Upper 700 MHz C-Block, which a substantial group of small and mid-sized licensees known as the “Balanced Consensus Plan” (including numerous BloostonLaw rural telephone clients) has identified as one of two spectrum blocks that should be licensed as CMA-sized licenses, so that small businesses and rural telcos will have a realistic opportunity to win these licenses at auction.
The FCC had dismissed Cyren Call’s petition without prejudice last fall, noting that in Section 337(a) of the Communications Act, Congress mandated that the Commission allocate spectrum between 746 MHz and 806 MHz, inclusive by designating 24 MHz of the spectrum “for public safety services” and 36 MHz of the spectrum “for commercial use to be assigned by competitive bidding pursuant to Section 309(j).” Thus, the Commission had concluded that Cyren Call’s petition was inconsistent with Sections 337(a) and 309(j)(15)(C)(v)’s auction requirement. As a result, the FCC said it had no authority to act on the petition because Congressional action was needed before the proposal could be implemented. However, the Commission said it would leave the RM-11348 docket open in order to develop a public record (BloostonLaw Telecom Update, November 8, 2006).
In a petition for reconsideration, and in ex parte comments, Cyren Call modified its proposal to address this issue. While recognizing that Congressional action would be necessary, Cyren Call submitted a draft legislative proposal for a Public Safety Broadband Trust (PSBT) that would be organized as a non-stock, nonprofit, government-chartered corporation authorized to raise money by selling debt instruments to investors in private financial markets. The monies raised would be used, first, to purchase 30 megahertz of 700 MHz spectrum from the FCC at a price to be determined by the Commission, but not to exceed $5 billion, thereby replacing the funds that might be otherwise obtained at auction. The potential loser here would be the American taxpayer, if the market value of the spectrum would exceed the $5 billion cap (as it is expected to do).
SORTING OUT THE DOCKETS
The following may be helpful in keeping track of the various proposals regarding the 700 MHz spectrum issue:
1. FCC proposal to allocate 12 megahertz of 700 MHz public safety spectrum from wideband to broadband use (PS Docket No. 06-229, WT Docket No. 96-86). Comments were filed February 26, and replies are due March 12. In its initial comments, BloostonLaw, on behalf of its clients (the Blooston Rural Carriers) stated that the Commission must avoid a situation where a nationwide public safety licensee is permitted to become a subsidized competitor to small businesses and rural telephone companies (BloostonLaw Telecom Update, February 28).
2. Frontline Wireless. The “Public Safety Broadband Deployment Plan” was filed in comments on the FCC’s PS Docket No. 06-229, WT Docket No. 96-86 proposal. However, we would expect to see the plan placed on public notice, especially because of the supporting legislation (S.744) introduced by Senator John McCain.
3. Cyren Call. This proposal for a “Public Safety Broadband Trust,” which essentially is a request for Upper 700 MHz spectrum geared for commercial auction may be the least likely plan to succeed. Nevertheless, the FCC has placed this RM-11348 proposal on Public Notice, with oppositions or supporting comments due by March 16, and replies due by March 26.
Source: Blooston, Mordkofsky, Dickens, Duffy and Prendergast, LLP
For additional information, contact Hal Mordkofsky at 202-828-5520 or email@example.com
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China Unicom to stop paging biz
China Unicom is set to close its paging business around the country excluding Shanghai. The firm has applied to the telecom authority for withdrawing from the bleeding sector. The Ministry of Information Industry says if it doesn't receive too many complaints, the mobile phone carrier is expected to stop the service on March the 22nd.
China Unicom says it will fully protect users' interests. China Unicom's paging business has reached its peak in 2000. Subscribers to one of its national networks jumped to 45 million. But the rapid growth of mobile telecom business has soon wiped out the paging market. In 2003, the number of China Unicom's subscribers shrank to 8.6 million.
Industry insiders say China Unicom suffers about 100 million yuan annually loss in the paging business, and that's around 13 million US dollars.
Source: CCTV.com (China Central Television)
• 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.
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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.
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|LETTERS TO THE EDITOR|
From: "Steve Burling" <email@example.com>
Date: March 7, 2007 7:06:22 PM CST
Subject: cell bill could affect two radio sales
PROPOSED WASHINGTON STATE LAW SNARES HAM RADIO OPERATORS
A number of proposed laws have been introduced into the Washington State Legislature that are designed to eliminate the hazard of talking/texting on cell phones while driving. All of these proposals are overly broad and could be interpreted to prohibit two way Radio operation by the driver of a moving motor vehicle. The bill numbers are HB 1214, HB 1868 and SB 5037. Links to all of the bills can be found at; http://apps.leg.wa.gov/billinfo/search.aspx?term=wireless&year=2007.
Steve Burling KJ7YL
|UNTIL NEXT WEEK|
That's all for this week.
With best regards,
P.O. Box 13283
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|THOUGHTS FOR THE WEEK|
“One human being cannot bring about divine deliverance from affliction for another, but it is possible to share with another the encouragement received in the midst of one’s own troubles.”
”Reliance upon God rather than upon one’s own native ability is of fundamental importance in the Christian life, yet such an attitude does not come naturally. Very often suffering is needed to make us rely upon God.”
—New Bible Commentary, InterVarsity Press (Commentary on II Cor. 1:4-7)
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