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Industry News

The Commercial Market

February 1, 1998
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The Commercial Market

Wireless Utility Metering System to Use Satellite Two-way Network
Enron Energy Services Inc. has announced agreements to launch electric metering systems featuring two-way wireless communications and a satellite-enabled network for industrial, commercial and residential customers in the deregulated marketplace. A residential metering communications system will employ Motorola two-way paging technology and Mobile Telecommunication Technologies’ nationwide advanced messaging network. The interactive metering system will be offered to residential customers in California as soon as regulatory rules allow (currently scheduled for January 1999). In addition to its metering task, the system also will provide the capability for remote control of household temperature, lighting, entertainment centers, cooking and security systems via telephone, computer or two-way pager.

The commercial and industrial version of the interactive metering solution will employ ABB Alpha" electronic meters and TransData Inc. industrial-grade meters fitted with Motorola integrated wireless modems and the ARDIS nationwide data network. Metering of electricity, gas and water usage is provided. In January, energy service providers were scheduled to install meters in California customer locations using more than 20 kW of electricity.

Wireless Control of Automotive In-vehicle Functions Introduced
Motorola has introduced its CreataLink control module, a messaging receiver developed specifically for wireless wide area automotive applications. The module allows automotive manufacturers, aftermarket retailers, dealerships and fleet organizations to equip vehicles with a device that can control numerous vehicle functions via existing one-way paging networks. Using a toll-free telephone number, users will be able to remotely unlock and lock powered door locks, start a vehicle engine, disable a vehicle and engage horn and flashing light alerts in the event of a theft, as well as display in-vehicle messages such as local traffic and weather conditions.

The system eliminates the usual inconveniences following situations such as inadvertently locking keys in a car; a paging telephone call rather than one to a locksmith will solve the problem. The system’s vehicle disabling feature appears to be particularly attractive to car rental, leasing and financing companies. Compared to alternative wireless communications technologies, such as cellular, personal communications service (PCS) and wireless data networks, the system claims to offer lower battery drain, a more cost-effective communications medium, more seamless coverage and better in-building (such as parking garages) performance.

Digital Mexican Wireless Network to Use CDMA Technology
Lucent Technologies has been awarded a multimillion-dollar contract by Grupo Iusacell as part of a $200 M modernization program to upgrade Iusacell’s wireless network. Under the contract, Lucent will replace Iusacell’s existing analog Advanced Mobile Phone Service system with an IS-95 code-division multiple access (CDMA) system in the company’s four contiguous operating regions, including Mexico City, where Iusacell’s service covers 70 percent of Mexico’s total population. The new system will permit the introduction of advanced features such as Caller ID and the page-like Short Messaging Service. In addition, the CDMA system offers increased call capacity and maximizes network efficiency.

The first phase of the agreement covers the upgrade of Iusacell’s wireless system in Region 9, which includes Mexico City. The other three regions will be upgraded in the second phase of the project.

Iusacell is Mexico’s leading independent telecommunications company. It offers cellular telecommunications, long distance, paging and wireless data services. Bell Atlantic subsidiaries have been controlling Iusacell’s management since February 1997.

Impressive Growth Expected in Central American and Mexican Wireless Markets
According to a report by Pyramid Research, "Wireless Markets and Strategies in Mexico/Central America," privatization, liberalization and regulatory reforms will fuel impressive growth in wireless technology in those regions through 1999. Mexico is expected to lead the growth and is forecast to have approximately five million cellular subscribers by 2001, almost 14 percent of the total cellular subscriber base of major Latin American countries at that time. The total value of Mexico’s cellular and PCS markets is expected to reach $473 M in 2001. The introduction of wireless local loop (WLL) service in Mexico in 1998 will contribute significantly to its overall wireless growth because an estimated 270,000 WLL subscribers at the end of 1998 are forecast to grow to 1.5 million by the end of 2001.

Panama, the first Central American country to privatize its telecommunications provider, has been introduced to cellular and paging services, and paging subscriber growth has been significant. Later this year, Guatemala also plans to liberalize and privatize its services. GUATEL, the monopoly operator to be privatized, is planning a $70 M PCS network. The government is attempting to promote competition by auctioning off 15-year renewable, transferable frequency rights with no technology or buildout requirements.

Other countries in the region, including Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador and Costa Rica, are not planning to open their markets until later this year and are expected to experience slow growth in their wireless services for the next few years. For additional information, contact Kristen Walker at Pyramid Research (617) 868-4725, fax (617) 868-5574.

New CD-ROM Tracks Cellular and PCS Markets
The Strategis Group’s newest product release, Wireless ScoreKeeper™: United States, has been introduced to track the players in the cellular and PCS domestic markets. The appearance of competition between the cellular and PCS carriers following the PCS spectrum auctions fueled renewed subscriber growth in the wireless industry in 1997. The Strategis Group predicts that the continued buildout of PCS systems will continue to change the wireless marketplace significantly. During the auctions, there was great interest in who would emerge as the major players in the market. The Strategis publication provides a comprehensive look at the extent to which those initial players have been able to capitalize on their licenses, the progress of their networks and how competition in each market is developing.

The third-quarter CD-ROM edition of Wireless ScoreKeeper: United States includes up-to-date abstracts describing each current cellular and PCS license in detail, licenses owned, price paid per point of presence and executive contact information. The edition updates all licenses that have changed hands since the auctions. It also identifies active network and coverage footprints by carrier and technology in the A through F blocks. Geographical breakdowns include major and basic trading, metropolitan statistical, rural service and major economic areas, and regional economic groupings.

Demographic maps illustrate income and population density levels within each basic trading area. Abstracts of more than 30 technology providers, including descriptions of handset and infrastructure suppliers chosen by active carriers, are provided together with an overview of the PCS and wireless communications service market structure with spectrum allocations, license areas, ownership limitations and construction requirements.

The publication is revised semi-annually. The CD-ROM format permits information to be shared via local area network or local Intranet. For additional information, contact Kathryn Miller at The Strategis Group (202) 530-7500 or e-mail: kmiller@strategisgroup.com.

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