Commercial Market

Ericsson to Pursue New Next-generation Wireless Technologies

Ericsson has announced plans to conduct a number of field trials to further develop wireless technologies for third-generation (3G) networks. As part of a historic demonstration, executives at Ericsson Canada and Microcell Connexions engaged in a multimedia conversation using Ericsson’s wideband CDMA (W-CDMA) 3G wireless solutions for the North American environment. Ericsson’s 1900 MHz W-CDMA system will allow North American operators to harmonize their 3G networks with others around the world. The event inaugurated Ericsson Canada’s participation in the North American GSM Alliance LLC and Telesystem International Wireless 3G trial being conducted by Microcell Connexions in Montreal.

Ericsson Canada has also entered into a cooperative agreement with Telexis Corp. to test and demonstrate a Telexis wireless video monitoring application using W-CDMA technology and data rates up to 50-times the speed of current technology. The new technology will enable wireless users to receive video at any location within their wireless network service area. Trials will be conducted at Ericsson’s Next Generation Systems Laboratories in Montreal.

In related news, Ericsson is also expected to deliver its General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) technology to more than 45 mobile network operators in the Americas, Europe and Asia-Pacific for GPRS field trials. GPRS, which will introduce packet data to mobile networks, is a critical first step in the evolution of 3G mobile networks and will fully enable mobile Internet applications and other advanced data communication services. Ericsson’s GPRS systems will allow operators to conduct extensive evaluations and preparations for the first commercial launch of packet-switched applications. The field trial systems consist of open standardized systems, including infrastructure, terminals and applications. Ericsson was expected to deliver the first of its GPRS equipment in July.

Personal Assistant Services Forecast to Reach 300 Million Users by 2005

Ovum Inc. has released a report, “Personal Assistants: Owning the Customer Interface,” which forecasts that there will be approximately 300 million users of personal assistant services worldwide by 2005. Personal assistant services provide easy access to a combination of enhanced network services, which include unified messaging, personal numbering, voice dialing, mobile location, personal directory and electronic scheduling. Service providers will have to meet varying individual and sector requirements to help personal assistant service users manage their communications lives. Features of personal assistant services include the storage of large amounts of user-specific information on the network and a single interface to fixed, mobile, voice and data networks.

The report defines two principal market categories for the service: Call Management Personal Assistants (a bundling of voice-based services through a single access number) and Advanced Personal Communications (APC) service (a bundling of network services that are accessible via a voice user interface or a personal Web page). Essentially, APC is the convergence of a Call Management Personal Assistant and unified messaging. Worldwide revenues from personal assistant services are estimated to reach $267 M by the beginning of 2000; revenues are forecast to increase to $25.9 B by 2005. Although Call Management Personal Assistants are expected to account for the majority of subscribers, APC service will account for approximately two-thirds of worldwide revenues because it is intended for high end users who will tolerate the subscription fees. Call management services will be offered free of charge, generating revenue from increased telecommunications usage and advertising revenue. For additional information, contact Ovum at (781) 272-6414, fax (781) 272-7446 or e-mail:

1999 Mergers Create Top Four Telecommunications Companies

According to a recent report from Tele-Trend, a market intelligence service of Paragren Technologies, a wave of mergers, acquisitions and alliances announced this year by major US residential communications companies has concentrated the market share rankings to create four leading firms. The report, “US Residential Communications Market Share and the Impact of Mergers on Consumer Choice,” forecasts that more than 50 percent of the US residential communications market, including Internet services and cable and direct broadcast satellite (DBS) services, will be controlled by the top four companies formed by mergers, acquisitions and alliances.

AT&T, which completed its acquisition of TCI earlier this year, is in the lead as the largest US residential communications company, followed by the recently approved merger of SBC and Ameritech Inc. The Bell Atlantic, GTE and Airtouch merger will occupy the third highest spot in the rankings, followed by MCI/WorldCom’s planned acquisition of Sprint. (All rankings are based on dollar market share.) Each of the four top companies will provide some type of service to more than one-third of US households. The long distance market is expected to be the most concentrated with three of the four companies controlling approximately 80 percent of the dollar share market; the average spending per customer with all four companies is expected to range from $30 to $42 per month. As a group, the four companies will bill 53 percent of all US residential communications services. Household penetration figures for all four companies for all services and total telephone services show AT&T/TCI ahead with 61.7 percent followed by SBC/Ameritech with 36.6 percent, Bell Atlantic/GTE/Airtouch with 36.1 percent and MCI/WorldCom/Sprint with 33.8 percent. AT&T/TCI also have a significant lead in total cable TV/DBS services with 64.8 percent compared to 38.8 percent (SBC/Ameritech), 35.2 percent (Bell Atlantic/GTE/Airtouch) and 34.5 percent (MCI/WorldCom/Sprint). For additional information, contact Joe McDermott, Paragren Technologies (703) 995-1944 or e-mail:

Reports Forecast Cable TV and DBS Markets through 2003

Cahners In-Stat Group has released two reports, “The Cable TV Industry: Entering the Digital Era” (No. DT9911NW) and “Digital DBS Markets and Opportunities: Sports Drives Growth” (No. DT9912NW), which examine the worldwide cable television and DBS industries. The reports forecast that by 2003 more North American television households will receive digital television signals via satellite than from cable transmission. Digital DBS services (or direct-to-home (DTH)) were first introduced in 1994 and have reportedly gained a significant head start on digital cable TV in the race for subscribers. There are currently seven million digital cable TV subscribers worldwide and the number is expected to triple over the next two years, according to industry analyst Mike Paxton. While the overall number of cable TV subscribers will continue to increase, the rate of growth will be slower than in previous years. Currently, 258 million households subscribe to cable TV; by 2003, that number is expected to increase to 330 million.

A law that will enable subscribers to receive their local broadcast stations via DTH service is currently being considered by the US Congress. If enacted, the law will remove a serious competitive advantage held by cable suppliers and further increase the attractiveness of DTH service. Subsidized equipment offers from broadcasters also are expected to add incentives to switch from cable to digital. In addition, sports programming and interactive services such as sports scores, stock quotes, weather reports and e-commerce are forecast to draw digital DBS subscribers. The reports also forecast that cable will remain the dominant pay-television transmission through 2003, even as it challenged by DTH and other wireless alternatives. For additional information, contact Mike Paxton, Cahners In-Stat Group (480) 483-4473 or e-mail: