New Consortium Aims to Make TV More Personal and Interactive

Microsoft Corp., DIRECTV Inc. and THOMSON multimedia have announced an alliance to bring a new advanced RCA® DIRECTV™ system with the new Microsoft® Ultimate TV™ service to market. The RCA DS4290RE system with Ultimate TV and DIRECTV service is the first direct broadcast satellite (DBS) television platform that integrates DIRECTV programming, digital video recording, interactive television and Internet access in one package. The package will permit viewers to watch two shows on DIRECTV at the same time (picture-in-picture), watch one show while recording a second and record more than 30 hours of digital-quality programming for later viewing in their own personal lineup. Viewers will be able to choose from more than 500 hours per week of interactive television, respond to promotions with a remote control, and send and receive e-mail.

The DS4290RE receiver incorporates two DIRECTV satellite tuners and a hard disk drive for digital video recording. In addition, it provides a digital audio output, a standard V.90-capable modem for Internet communications and two USB ports that are planned to support printers as well as keyboards and broadband network interfaces such as DSL modems. The receiver package includes a digital satellite receiver, an 18-inch dish antenna with dual-output LNB and a universal remote control. The receiver with the two television services was expected to be available for retail purchase by the last quarter of this year.

New Venture to Provide Vehicle Telematics Services

Ford Motor Co. and QUALCOMM Inc. have announced the creation of Wingcast, a new company to develop and deliver wireless mobility and information services that will equip cars and trucks with voice, entertainment and safety services and Internet access. Ford cars and trucks will be the initial recipients of these newly developed products and services. Ford expects that more than one million of its vehicles will be so equipped by the end of 2002, more than three million by 2003 and virtually all of its cars and trucks by the end of 2004.

Wingcast expects to combine QUALCOMM's CDMA wireless technology with Ford's telematics and consumer experience to provide consumers with seamless access to applications and services in their vehicles such as communications, information, navigation, entertainment, safety and security. The company's first offerings are scheduled for introduction in late 2001. Nissan is also working with Ford and QUALCOMM to bring Wingcast services into some of its luxury vehicles and may extend their application to a broader selection of Nissan and Infiniti vehicles in the future.

Ford and QUALCOMM each own equity in Wingcast under undisclosed terms. Cartell, a Michigan-based supplier of telematics equipment to automakers, is a minority stakeholder in the company. Initial Wingcast services will be available in North America over cdmaOne™ digital wireless networks. Advanced offerings requiring high speed wireless data will become available as third-generation cdma2000 and wideband CDMA networks are implemented.

First In-flight Bluetooth Wireless Technology Test is Successful

AirCell Inc. and Motorola Inc. have announced the successful completion of the world's first in-flight test of Bluetooth wireless technology. Current Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rules prohibit the use of personal cellular phones while airborne due to potential interference with terrestrial wireless networks, but AirCell has developed an FCC-approved in-flight cellular link that avoids interference with terrestrial cell sites. The systems rely on hard-wired handsets within the aircraft that are widely deployed in commercial fleets. The test combined Bluetooth technology links between personal communications devices like wireless phones and laptops with the fixed AirCell air-to-ground link within the aircraft. The system is expected to drastically reduce the cost of phone calls made while airborne and, at the same time, provide a variety of advanced services such as fax, e-mail and Internet access.

Globalstar Introduces Satellite Telephone Service in Russia

Globalstar has introduced its satellite telephone service in Russia, bringing wireless telecommunications service to virtually the entire country and introducing it into nearly 40,000 communities that presently have little or no access to wireless or wireline telephone service. GlobalTel, the exclusive provider of Globalstar service in Russia, will use its gateway in Moscow to offer basic telephone services including voice and short messaging service (SMS) and, in early 2001, will offer fax and data service. Later this year, gateways in Novosibirsk and Khabarovsk will be on line to provide service to central and eastern Russia, respectively, expanding Globalstar's coverage to virtually the entire country from the Baltic Sea to the Pacific Ocean. In addition to covering nearly all of Russia's land areas, Globalstar will provide service up to 200 miles off of the country's coastlines to commercial and private maritime vessels as they travel outside the coverage area of traditional cellular and radio services.

GlobalTel will market Globalstar products and services through its regional providers and distribution network as well as through its sales office in Moscow. Phone units are being offered at prices starting at US$999, and call rates within Russia range from US$1.19 to $1.99 per minute.

CDMA-800 and PCS-1900 Expected to Lead Base Station Growth

Areport from the Cahners In-Stat Group, "Towers, Towers, Everywhere: 2000 Worldwide Base Station Forecast," estimates that the global count of 800 and 900 MHz cellular and 1800 and 1900 MHz PCS, PDC base stations will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 30.4 percent through 2004. During that period, the report predicts that CDMA-800 and PCS-1900 installations will grow at rates of 48.9 and 35.3 percent, respectively, to lead the market. TDMA-1900 is expected to be very close to the leaders in third place.

The report forecasts that the number of US base stations will grow 17.5 percent this year and, at that level, account for the majority of new installations in the Americas. Canada's base station count is also expected to grow this year but, since its high population centers already have good coverage, no significant additional growth is forecast. During the next four years, South America's share of the Americas market is expected to increase from its current 21.8 percent to 50.2 percent. In Europe, the current dominance of GSM/DCS-1800 is expected to limit growth. Europe's market share at the end of 2004 is forecast to decrease by 10 percent. The report notes further that the significant year-to-year decline of analog in Europe is likely to take it to the point of non-existence by the end of 2001 and that DCS-1800 will be growing at a faster rate than GSM-900.

In other areas, the study finds that Japan, with 8.6 percent of total worldwide base stations in 2000, is likely to see that share drop to 3.7 percent in 2004. Russia is identified as one of the few geographic areas to enjoy significant analog growth, which is expected to peak in 2004 and begin a moderate decline as digital technology begins to replace it. The anticipated surge in new subscribers in third-world nations is also expected to contribute to the dynamic growth in base stations through 2004 and beyond. China, in particular, is expected to contribute heavily to this growth. For additional information, contact Kirsten Skedd, Cahners In-Stat (480) 609-4534 or e-mail: *