Lucent Technologies and Verizon Wireless Sign $1.5 B Letter of Intent
Verizon Wireless and Lucent Technologies have signed a letter of intent potentially worth up to $1.5 B which names Lucent as a primary supplier of network infrastructure to the newly-formed wireless venture. The agreement will allow the largest US wireless carrier to increase its coverage and capacity in key markets and to offer third generation (3G) high speed mobile Internet and other enhanced data and voice services to business and residential customers.
The parties expect to enter into a purchase agreement that would set the stage for continued close collaboration begun with Bell Atlantic Mobile on commercializing next-generation CDMA digital wireless technology for introduction into the national Verizon Wireless network. Earlier this year, Lucent and QUALCOMM Inc. reported the first live laboratory demonstration of the 3G data transmission technology which was planned for initial deployment in Verizon Wireless' Philadelphia area network earlier this year. The technology supports peak data transmission rates of 153 kbs. When deployed, the technology will have the additional benefit of doubling network voice capacity without the need for new basestations.
The letter of intent covers a broad range of Lucent products including those supporting high speed data and mobile Internet applications. Verizon Wireless is expecting to deploy a variety of mobile Internet services including intelligent network and unified messaging and two-way Short Message Service Center (SMSC) service developed jointly with Telecommunications Systems of Annapolis, MD.
Agreement to Establish Personalized Delivery of Interactive Broadband Services
EchoStar Communications Corp. and Geocast Network Systems Inc. have signed an agreement under which Geocast will deliver its personalized broadband services to PC users via dedicated bandwidth on one of EchoStar's primary direct broadcast satellites. The agreement will permit Geocast to reach a nationwide audience and allow DISH Network to deliver new PC services to its subscribers.
Geocast will deliver content from EchoStar's satellite to DISH Network customers who have a DISH Network satellite TV system with a GeoBox, a personal broadband server, connected to their PC. The GeoBox contains a 40 gigabyte hard drive and will store the personalized content delivered via DISH network at speeds up to 12 Mbs. The GeoBox will permit PC users to receive and store high quality audio, TV-like video images and software downloads at very high speeds. The Geocast service is expected to be available to DISH Network customers in the third quarter of next year when it will begin to provide instant access to personalized selections of information from local and national sources, entertainment and e-commerce offerings.
Quad-band Antenna Can be Embedded in Notebook Computer Hinge
RangeStar Wireless has announced a quad-band antenna for notebook computer applications which can be embedded in the notebook's hinge. The antenna supports three types of wireless service, general packet radio services (GPRS), Bluetooth applications and 802.11A unlicensed applications. The antenna supports both vertical and horizontal polarization and provides hemispherical coverage permitting the antenna to operate when the notebook is open or closed and when it is in a docking station or briefcase.
The antenna offers a peak gain of +1 dbi in the 900 MHz band, 0 dbi in the 1800 MHz band, +3 dbi in the 2.4 and 5.2 GHz bands. The unit weighs one gram and measures 131 * 7.8 * 1.5 mm.
European Cell Phone Users to Abandon Fixed Telephone Service
A recent report from Strategy Analytics based on detailed interviews with cellular users in six European markets, Wireless 2000: European End-user Market Dynamics, forecasts that 40 percent of cellular users in Western Europe expect to use their cellular phones for all voice traffic in the future. Only one third of those interviewed remained convinced that they will still use fixed telephones. The report also notes that cellular service pricing can contribute significantly to this move. Pricing remains the most common complaint of cellular users in the region and is responsible for 50 percent of subscriber churn.
The youth portion of the market is taking the lead in depending solely on cellular phones. Almost 50 percent of those in the 1624 year age bracket are planning to abandon their fixed phone service while only one-third of users over 45 have the same plans. The younger age group uses short messaging services (SMS) and e-mail much more heavily than the older segment, and are more comfortable with the mobile phone for all forms of communications. Pricing will ultimately determine how deeply the cellular operators are able to convert users to cellular-only habits. European cellular users are very willing to change services in response to cost advantages. For additional information, contact: Phil Kendall, Strategy Analytics, +44 0 1582 589813, fax: +44 0 1582 454828.
DBS to Reach 25 Million Subscribers by 2005
A new report from the Yankee Group, Direct Broadcast Satellite: Growth in New Directions, forecasts that, driven by the addition of local channels and new services like Internet access and interactive TV, the Direct Broadcast Satellite (DBS) subscriber count in the US will grow to 25 million over the next five years.
The report notes that, historically, DBS has been strongest in rural areas without access to cable television and among those seeking more movies, sports and improved picture and sound quality. Recent legislation permitting satellite delivery of local stations has strengthened its ability to compete with cable in urban and suburban markets. In addition, new service offerings like high speed Internet access, satellite receivers equipped with digital video recorders and Interactive TV will significantly contribute to its growth.
Among the report's findings, within households acquiring DBS service during the first three months of this year, 70 percent have access to cable but only 17 percent subscribe to cable. In that same group, only eight percent with local station coverage by their satellite package also subscribe to cable. While satellite TV hardware prices have fallen from $300 to $150 this year, subscription prices have remained at $40 per month. Customer satisfaction remains high with 79 percent of DBS subscribers recommending the service to others. For additional information, contact: Kim Vranas, The Yankee Group (617) 880-0214.
$525 M Greater China Wireless Contracts Awarded
Nortel Networks has received contracts worth an estimated $525 M for new wireless network build-out which is expected to serve up to 17 million subscribers in Greater China, and will provide next generation Wireless Internet and data services.
The awards include $250 M for expansion of Chunghwa Telecom Taiwan-wide GSM 900/1800 MHz dual-band digital cellular network and $275 M in new networks and expansions by China Unicom in the People's Republic of China (PRC). More than 1900 new GSM 900/1800 MHz basestations will be installed in Taiwan to support dual-band roaming and a General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) software upgrade will support high speed Wireless Internet services. The PRC work is concerned with the implementation of GPRS infrastructure and software. *