#TBT: AT&T intros PocketNet; Pacific Bell preps for GSM; Bell South sells cellular online … this week in 1997

5G Top Stories

Editor’s Note: RCR Wireless News goes all in for “Throwback Thursdays,” tapping into our archives to resuscitate the top headlines from the past. Fire up the time machine, put on the sepia-tinted shades, set the date for #TBT and enjoy the memories!

PocketNet! It’s pocket-sized internet. In your pocket.

KIRKLAND, Wash.-AT&T Wireless Services Inc.’s Wireless Data Division introduced its PocketNet service to give businesses access to the Internet and corporate intranets. Using PocketNet, business users will be able to read and respond to e-mail messages, forward documents to a fax machine and access stock quotes, weather forecasts and other information on the Internet, the company said. A monthly service charge of $40 gives users an e-mail account and address, a 500 kilobyte allowance of data transactions and 20 fax pages each month. A fee of $45 per user is required to activate PocketNet. Analog cellular voice activation is extra. The service will be available in 70 metropolitan areas including Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Las Vegas, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, Seattle and Tacoma, Wash. … Read more

That’s New York, baby

NEW YORK-“We are involved in a merger at 2,000 feet of two behemoths,” said Ivan Seidenberg, chief executive officer of Nynex Corp., in a speech Jan. 28 to the Financial Women’s Association of New York. The pending merger with Bell Atlantic Corp., which both companies expect to conclude by April, will play to their advantages of scale and size, preparing them to increase profitability even, “when competitors come into this market at full bore,” he said. The combined company, whose new name he did not disclose, will have a market capitalization of $50 billion. As of Jan. 27, five of the seven states in Nynex’s region, which blankets the East Coast from Maine to Virginia, had either approved the merger or not sought jurisdiction over it. Vermont’s decision is expected shortly. The New York State Public Service Commission has scheduled a meeting on March 5 for review of briefs and reply briefs filed in connection with the merger application. “Three years ago, people said Nynex was brain dead. Now, the issue is that service could be better. The next issue is that we will get screwed in this merger, and I say, `Well? That’s New York’.” … Read more

Pac Bell preps for GSM

SAN DIEGO-Pacific Bell Mobile Services Inc. is in the final stages of testing its ability to transmit data over the Global System for Mobile communications network. Pac Bell Mobile is scheduled to launch full commercial GSM service in Las Vegas and Orange County to business customers in mid-February. Full service to retail customers should be available by the end of February, the company said. Full service will include voice telephony, data and messaging. With these launches, data will become available in San Diego as well, where voice and messaging service was launched last year. “With this, we are bringing landline reliability,” said Roy Gunter, executive director of business development for Pac Bell Mobile. Pac Bell Mobile’s network operates at 1900 MHz. Initially, data will travel on the circuit-switched system at 9,600 kilobits per second, with future improvements of possibly 14,400 kbps, up to 64,000 kbps. … Read more

Tech IPO market cooldown?

NEW YORK-If the conventional wisdom holds true that a rising tide lifts all boats, then wireless companies seeking to go public this year can take comfort in the results of the 1997 Super Bowl. For 27 of the 30 previous years, a win by a National Football Conference team like the Green Bay Packers has portended that the Dow Jones Industrial Average would close out the year up overall. A win by an American Conference team has spelled a Dow slump. Nevertheless, a number of factors are converging to make this year tricky for publicly traded companies and those looking to raise public equity capital for the first time. “For high-technology companies looking to go public, I would go public earlier in the year rather than later,” said David Schulman, chief equity strategist for Salomon Brothers Inc., New York, at a recent Wall Street Forum meeting for institutional investors. In one key way, high-technology companies may become a victim of their own success at having grown as a group from a market niche into a dominant sector in the U.S. economy, Schulman said. … Read more

Telecom & media sector ‘generally healthy,’ Wall Street says

NEW YORK- The media and telecommunications industry was pronounced “generally healthy” by a panel of Wall Street officials discussing new equity and debt issues at an Institute for International Research conference, Jan. 29. The clean bill of health isn’t without qualification, however. “Certain sectors have fallen out of favor from time to time,” said Michael E. Anderson, managing director of Smith Barney Inc. “The industry taking it on the chin hardest (in 1996) was paging, which was decimated by MobileMedia’s problems.” As in many other aspects of life, good timing also is critical to a successful initial public offering. “It makes a big difference when you try to access the capital markets,” Anderson said. “By December, investors were exhausted and the mutual funds had closed their books. If you tried to do a deal in December and got it done, my hat’s off to you.” Mark Kastan, a Merrill Lynch & Co. equities research analyst specializing in new entrants into telecommunications, said the type of investor interest today can be characterized as one of “selective receptivity, notwithstanding the recent choppy environment in the stock market.” The past two years were marked by a less critical “field of dreams” mentality on the part of the investment community, he said. The current attitude no longer is “give us your business plan and we will fund it,” but rather, “if we fund it, you will build it.” … Read more

BellSouth sells cellular on the interwebs

ATLANTA-BellSouth Cellular Corp. launched an Internet World Wide Web site that will allow customers to buy cellular phones and service. When the site is accessed, customers will be prompted to enter their zip code to determine if they are in one of the 216 cities and 15 states where BellSouth Cellular operates. Initially, the company said it will offer one rate plan per market and provide Mitsubishi Wireless Communications Inc. AH129 portable phones. The phone and the activation are free. Customers may change the pricing plan chosen on the Internet by contacting the local carrier. “The World Wide Web is an exciting place to be with transactional services,” said Bob Frame, executive vice president of BellSouth Cellular. … Read more

FCC remote auction tech gains recognition

WASHINGTON-The Federal Communications Commission has been nominated for a Computerworld Smithsonian Award for developing and implementing its remote electronic auction system. The annual awards program, first introduced in 1989, has been called “the Academy Awards for information technology,” and the commission could be up against some stiff competition from as many as 100 applicants in the “government and nonprofit organizations” category. According to the congratulatory letter sent to John Giuli, technical director for the FCC’s auction division, the Computerworld Smithsonian awards program “identifies and honors men and women whose visionary use of information technology produces positive social, economic and educational change. These innovators, nominated by chairmen of the nation’s leading information technology companies, are accorded a permanent place in history at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History.” There are 10 categories of winners, and a three-judge panel of industry leaders votes on each category award individually. Winners’ information is stored at the Smithsonian for future reference, and plaques commemorate the successful nominees. … Read more

Top 20 mobile operators of ’97

Editor’s Note: The RCR research and editorial staffs have compiled this list of the 20 largest specialized mobile radio operators based on survey responses. Racom Corp., Chadmoore Wireless Group Inc. and B&C Communications Inc. declined to provide information. Nextel Communications Inc. announced in October its plans to purchase Pittencrieff Communications Inc. for $159 million. The transaction is expected to be completed this year. The interests in California Trunking/S&S Communications’ SMR business have either been sold or the management has been transferred to others. … Read more

Check out the RCR Wireless News Archives for more stories from the past.

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