#TBT: Billing goes online; Cricket telephones ‘beloved’; ‘Portable Internet’ to bridge digital divide…this week in 2000

Editor’s Note: RCR Wireless News is going all-in for “Throwback Thursdays,” leveraging our archives to revive key headlines from the past. Turn on the time machine, put on those sepia tones, set the date for #TBT and enjoy the memories!

Sprint Tests 1XEvolution

Lucent Technologies Inc. and Sprint PCS announced that they will conduct a joint trial of 1XEvolution technology, a third-generation technology based on High Data Rate technology. The trial will begin through the Sprint PCS network in the first half of 2001 and will involve testing and verifying the 2.4 megabit-per-second capability using Lucent’s Flexent wireless networking platform. The trial will initially take place at the Sprint PCS Technology Integration Center in Lenexa, Kansas. The CDMA Development Group recently submitted the 1XEV specification to the global standards group, Third Generation Partnership Project 2. The specification includes 1XRTT technology, which provides doubled voice capacity and data rates of up to 144 kilobits per second to existing Code Division Multiple Access networks and HDR technology developed by Qualcomm Inc. 3GPP is expected to complete the standardization of the technology in August. Many CDMA operators plan to deploy 1X technology next year, while Korean operators SK Telecom and KT Freetel are planning commercial deployments in the fourth quarter. 1XEV should be commercially available by the end of 2001. † read more

Get your eMinutes online

REDMOND, Wash.-AT&T Wireless Services Inc. said it is offering a prepaid feature called AT&T eMinutes, which allows the company’s prepaid customers to top up online voice minutes for immediate use. The company said the program is the first to offer national prepaid wireless minutes for sale online in the United States. The service is provided by Qpass, a digital trading services company, which has provided the trading infrastructure for transaction processing, customer registration and customer service over the internet. † read more

Altel invoices online

LITTLE ROCK, Ark.-Alltel Corp. introduced a free online billing system to most of its wireless customers, which allows them to analyze their calling patterns and pay bills with a credit card over a secure Internet connection. “Alltel’s online billing system saves customers time and money by relieving them of writing checks, purchasing postage and other costs associated with sending invoices,” said Kevin Beebe, president of Alltel’s communications group. More importantly, it gives Alltel’s customers the freedom to analyze their accounts at their leisure. This allows us to build closer relationships with our customers by providing them with easy-to-use tools to meet their day-to-day needs.” † read more

Intersecting Billing and Customer Service with the Internet

NEW YORK — The conventional wisdom that communications software and enhanced services were “a one-night stand as an investment opportunity” has been blurred by a proliferation of new carrier requirements, said Susan Passoni, vice president of Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette Securities Corp. Exclusive e-commerce, DLJ expects the global telecommunications billing and customer service market to reach $8 billion by the end of the year and grow to $35 billion by the end of 2005. account. Current billing systems are (becoming) more complex and are an integral part of new service initiatives, marketing and pricing strategies for all carriers,” said Passoni. “One of the most exciting things enabling the change in the way we communicate is the [meeting] of mobility and the internet (because of) the ubiquity of wireless and the internet, location sensitivity and anytime, anywhere communication… The internet is the killer [application] for wireless.” Worldwide, the number of wireless users is expected to grow to about 550 million by the end of this year and surpass 1 billion by the end of 2003. Wireless data users, representing 31 million of the 425 million wireless subscribers at the end of 1999, are expected to exceed the 1 billion mark by the end of 2005, Passoni said. † read more

Cricket phones become ‘dearly loved’

One thing that Cricket Communications Inc. did not intend when it decided to offer a wireless service that competed with landline telephony was the fact that handsets break faster. In the two markets where Cricket has launched service, customers use an average of 1,000 minutes per month, Leap Wireless International Inc., Cricket’s parent company, said in its recent quarterly conference call. As a result, phones break more often and customers don’t get them fixed. Cricket considers establishing repair facilities and an insurance program to prevent customers from disconnecting from the network. “The phones are just being used all the time,” said Harvey White, chairman and CEO of Leap. “Over 60 percent of our customers use their phone as their primary phone. Not only do they break, but they get dropped, beer is spilled more often or whatever. It is a phenomenon that we are confronted with in this market segment. We talk to our suppliers about the phone and the life of the phone. I’m sure cordless phones were never designed for this kind of use.” Cricket offers customers unlimited local calls for a prepayment of about $30 per month, but the company has purposely limited its coverage area to the metropolitan area and customers can’t roam. Cricket has launched only two markets, Chattanooga and Nashville, Tenn. † read more

Work on ETSI GSM standards moves to 3GPP

SOPHIA ANTIPOLIS, France – The Special Mobile Group of the European Telecommunications Standards Institute’s Technical Committee, which has been responsible for setting Global System for Mobile communications standards, has announced it will close. ETSI said most of the work performed by SMG will be transferred to the Third-Generation Partnership Project, with necessary structural changes within 3GPP expected to be completed by July. “The new agreement concentrates all GSM and Universal Mobile Telecommunications System specifications in one facility, which is open on equal terms to interested companies worldwide,” said Friedhelm Hillebrand, chairman of SMG. † read more

‘Portable Internet’ is coming

WASHINGTON-A group of wireless and telecommunications executives plans to roll out a new service that they hope will lead to residential wireless broadband services at what could be megabit data rates. The market for Burst Wireless Inc. are those customers who cannot access digital subscriber lines or cable modems. “This is for the people who are being forgotten. We will be able to bridge the digital divide in a cost-effective way,” said George Tronsrue, Burst chairman and CEO. The business model requires the technology to be “plug-n-play”. One view is that it will be about the size of a cell phone and have Velcro on the back of a laptop. The technology will be portable but not mobile, said Richard Compton, chief technology officer of Burst, formerly of Lucent Technologies Inc. This is different from Qualcomm Inc’s High Data Rate technology. HDR would allow the user to get fast data while sitting as a passenger in a car or train. While Compton said Burst looks at HDR, “we’d take the mobility out to get a wider pipe.” Burst’s business plan will build on existing wireless infrastructure and other services will be outsourced, Tronsrue said. “We’re going to be able to outsource a lot of things that we should have done in-house five years ago,” he says. † read more

look at the RCR Wireless News Archive for more stories from the past

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