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Industry News

Commercial Market

March 1, 1997
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The Commercial Market

Motorola Awards Cover GSM Network Expansions in China and UAE

Motorola's Asia Pacific Cellular Infrastructure Group has signed a $15 M contract with the Beijing Telecommunications Administration (BTA) for the expansion of the Global System for Mobile communications (GSM) network in Beijing, China. This fourth phase of the expansion of BTA's GSM network is scheduled to involve the installation of more than 100 additional base stations. The expansion will cover the western half of Beijing and is scheduled for completion by the end of this year. Network subscriber capacity will be increased from 250,000 to 500,000 by the new installations.

In related news, Motorola's Greater China Cellular Infrastructure Division has signed a contract valued at $16 M with China Unicom for the deployment of a digital cellular telephone network in the Jiangsu province of China. The GSM network will have a capacity of 60,000 subscribers. Commercial service on the network is scheduled to begin during the first quarter of this year. When completed, the network will provide GSM service to the cities of Nanjin, Suzhou, Taizhou, Xuzhou, Yangzhou and Zhenjiang.

Finally, Motorola's International Cellular Infrastructure Group (ICIG) has signed an agreement for another GSM network expansion in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Under the terms of the agreement with Etisalat, the cellular operator, ICIG will supply GSM base stations and technical support for the network. The expansion will provide additional subscriber capacity in the northern emirates of the UAE and is scheduled to be completed by the end of this year.

Wireless End-user Market Study Covers Products, Markets and Suppliers

A recent report from Allied Business Intelligence, "Wireless End Use Markets: 1997 Competitive Analysis," offers market data for components and a variety of end-user market segments; insight into corporate intelligence involving products, distribution, competition and strategies; and profiles of the major corporate players in the businesses. The study suggests that analog cellular telephony will yield rapidly to digital standards that are able to expand capacities at rates required by subscriber demands. The world's 1995 cellular telephone subscriber base of 75 million is forecast to grow at an annual rate of 25 percent per year well into the next century, and replacement of analog handsets with digital models is expected to play a significant part in the overall handset market.

Personal communications systems (PCS) are expected to spur an extraordinary demand for personal wireless services. The requirements for infrastructure and user devices for such services are expected to represent opportunities comparable to those existing at the height of the demand for PCs. Notwithstanding the increasing demands for cellular and PCS services, paging sales in 1998 are forecast to reach $7 B. Every household is expected to have one or more wireless telephone or pager services by 2000.

Direct-broadcast satellite service, presently serving 2.2 million subscribers, is forecast to grow five-fold in the US and at greater rates overseas during the next five years. Devices employing Global Positioning System (GPS) information are already in use in the consumer market in significant quantities. Enhanced personal security and vehicle navigational aid applications are expected to lead the growth of the consumer GPS device market at a 40 percent per year rate beyond 2000.

The company profile section of the report contains 50 detailed analyses of major component suppliers in the market. Expecting that the wireless industry will undergo a major restructuring as wireless consumer markets become more price driven, the report is designed to assist suppliers in preparing for the change. For additional information, contact Allied Business Intelligence (516) 624-3113, fax (516) 624-3115.

Mobil Introduces Wireless Connection to Self-serve Gasoline Pumps

Mobil Corp. has announced that its Mobil Speedpass, reportedly the fastest way yet to purchase gasoline, will be introduced nationwide. A successful six-month trial of the wireless system in the St. Louis area prompted the company to move forward with the project.

The Speedpass wireless technology and equipment was developed for Mobil by Texas Instruments and the Wayne Division of Dresser Industries. Customers participating in the program will be provided with key tags incorporating transponders that are preprogrammed with unique secure identification (ID) numbers. When a key tag is waved at a pump in designated Speedpass stations, the pump will interrogate the tag and empower it to transmit its ID code. Upon recognizing a valid code, the pump is activated and the customer is able to select the desired gasoline grade.

In the meantime, the Speedpass system contacts Mobil's centralized credit department to verify current credit information and, when the transaction is complete, charges the customer's designated credit card. Credit card numbers remain outside the Speedpass system to maintain confidentiality. In a variation of this format, the transponder could be affixed to the vehicle and read automatically when the vehicle pulls up to the pump. Mobil's Speedpass will be introduced in its key markets from coast to coast this year. Initially, the company's goal is to distribute one million of the key tags to customers who sign up for the service.

Agreement Reached on Ka-band Spectrum Sharing

According to Mobile Satellite News, 15 companies interested in Ka-band (28 GHz) orbital slots over the continental US have reached an agreement on a plan that permits all of them to offer broadband services without interference. The companies, including some of the largest US satellite manufacturers and operators as well as a number of satellite entrepreneurs, advised the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) International Bureau of the agreement in February. The agreement includes the withdrawal of all participants' petitions opposing applications by other participants.

The plan has been accepted by the FCC, which expects to begin licensing systems under its terms. A dispute between Echostar Communications Corp. and GE American Communications Inc. over collocation of Ku- and Ka-band satellites remains unresolved but the FCC indicates that this disagreement will not delay its intent to license all 15 applicants by the end of April. Parties to the agreement include AT&T Corp., Comm Inc., Echostar, GE American Communications, Hughes Communications Galaxy Inc., Ka-Star Satellite Communications Corp., Lockheed Martin Corp., Loral Space and Communications Ltd., Morning Star Satellite Corp., NetSat 28 Co. LLC, Orion Network Systems Inc. and two of its operation units, PanAmSat Corp. and VisionStar Inc.

1900/850 MHz Band Hand-off Demonstrated

The first public hand-off between a 1900 MHz system and an 850 MHz system was demonstrated recently by Ericsson during the Universal Wireless Communications Conference in Orlando. The call, initiated from a time-division multiple access IS-136 digital technology system, was connected and carried across the US through the AT&T Wireless Services network in Richardson and Farmers' Branch, TX; Kirkland, WA; and Chicago, IL.

Connections with wireless systems produced real-time, seamlessly integrated 1900 and 850 MHz spectrum call hand-offs. Advanced digital wireless applications employing public and private networks, including location and caller ID, short message service, message waiting indicator, voice mail, four-digit extension dialing and intelligent roaming, were also demonstrated.

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