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FirstNews - April 22, 2008

Tue, 04/22/2008 - 7:56am

AT&T Announces 22% Rise in Profit

By Teresa von Fuchs

AT&T announced that profits for the first quarter rose 22% from the same period last year; the country’s largest telecom reported profits of $3.46 billion, or 57 cents per share for the quarter, up from $2.85 billion, or 45 cents a share for Q1 2007. The company said its strong performance was due to continued growth in its wireless and enterprise services divisions.

Profit before 1-time charges, such as merger-related costs and severance charges, rose to 74 cents from 65 cents a year earlier. And quarterly revenue rose just over 6% to $30.7 billion.

The carrier said it added 1.3 million net wireless subscribers during the quarter.

“We delivered an excellent first quarter and a solid start to the year,” said AT&T’s Chairman and CEO Randall Stephenson, in a statement. “AT&T's goal is to innovate and lead in a communications world driven by mobility and interactivity…The future of wireless has never been more promising, and I am very pleased that through our transaction with Aloha Partners and our successful bids in the recently completed auction, we have assembled the industry's premier, high-quality wireless spectrum position.”

 

Samsung Chairman Steps Down

By Teresa von Fuchs

Samsung Group Chairman Lee Kun-hee announced that he will be stepping down as head of South Korea’s largest corporation following his indictment on tax evasion and breech of trust. Kun-hee had led the group for more than 20 years.

Charges against him and other Samsung executives were the result of a 3-month investigation into accusations that executives were keeping a “slush” fund that was used to bribe judges and other state officials. The independent counsel running the investigation said it did not find evidence of the slush find, but did charge Kun-hee with evading taxes on up to $4.5 billion hidden in associates’ accounts.

After undergoing hours of questionings twice in the same week, Kun-hee hinted that he may step down. He announced his resignation earlier today, and Vice Chairman Lee Hak-soo announced his own resignation and that Lee Jae-yong, the chairman's son who is an executive at Samsung Electronics, also will be stepping down.

The company also announced that Kun-hee would pay the taxes he is accused of evading and that he would not use the money found in the extra accounts.

 

Samsung Soul Launches in Europe

By Teresa von Fuchs

In other Samsung news, the company’s final handset in its Ultra series, the Soul, goes on sale this week in select European markets. Samsung said the handset should be available in most other GSM markets by the end of May.

According to Samsung, the Soul continues “in the line of the Ultra Edition’s minimalistic, slim design, [with] a full metal body with a premium finish and 12.9 mm-thin form factor.”

Features include: Magical Touch by DaCP, an application that changes navigation indicators on the keypad according to the user’s current activity, and a 5-megapixel camera with face detection, image stabilizer and Wide Dynamic Range. The handset is also HSDPA-compatible to European standards.

The Soul made its U.S.-debut at CTIA Wireless show earlier this month, though the company has not announced when it may be available in the United States.

Samsung said it sold 4.5 million Ultra series handsets during Q4 2007, just under 10% of total handsets sold during the 3-month period.

 

Alltel Celebrates My Circle’s 2-Year Mark

By Monica Alleven

Alltel is celebrating the second anniversary of its My Circle calling plan, giving a special bonus to customers.

Starting today, customers celebrating their 2-year anniversary with My Circle will receive one free bonus number added to their current plan. For example, a customer on the 10-number plan for two years can get an 11th number added. On each subsequent 2-year anniversary on an eligible My Circle plan, customers can get another bonus number added.

The idea, in part, is to show existing customers that the carrier appreciates their loyalty, according to Alltel Chief Marketing Officer Frank O’Mara.

With My Circle, customers get unlimited calls to and from any combination of home phone, office or wireless numbers anywhere in the United States, regardless of phone company or carrier. It’s similar to T-Mobile USA’s MyFaves, which offers unlimited calls to five favorite people.

While AT&T and Verizon Wireless emphasize their networks, Alltel has stayed out of that fray. But it struggles with how to get the message across that it has a great network, a claim validated by J.D. Power and Associates’ recent ranking of Alltel with the highest in wireless call quality in two regions. The carrier automatically gives customers a credit if a call is dropped, O’Mara notes.

Alltel, with more than 12 million customers, boasts that it is the owner and operator of the nation’s largest wireless network, although O’Mara acknowledges that a lot of its markets are in less populated areas.

 

APC Wireless Acquires Movida MVNO

By Teresa von Fuchs

Cozac, a subsidiary of APC Wireless, announced it has purchased Movida, the recently bankrupted Latino-focused MVNO. APC Wireless said that this acquisition, along with its acquisition of Liberty Wireless in January, “enhances APC Wireless’s MVNO strategy.”

In a statement, APC COO Samuel Bahreini, said: “APC Wireless is dedicated to Movida’s subscriber base and setting industry-wide benchmarks for superior service.”

APC Wireless said that it plans to keep Movida’s rate plans and subscriber contracts the same, while improving the user experience. Founded in 2005, Movida aimed its bilingual MVNO services at the Latino market; the MVNO operated over Sprint’s CDMA network.

Financial details of the acquisition were not provided. However, as part of Movida’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, financials will have to be published shortly.

 

Sprint Delivers 2008 NFL Draft Live

By Rhonda Wickham

Sprint customers will be able to watch NFL Network’s live broadcast of the NFL Draft on April 26-27 using their video-enabled phones again this year through an exclusive agreement that is in its third year. Subscribers also will receive other exclusive wireless NFL Draft content via NFL Mobile, including blogs from players, text alerts for favorite NFL teams, live updates via Draft Tracker, draft day interviews from Radio City Music Hall, in-studio analysis from Trev Alberts as well as the latest news, opinion and analysis.

According to Steve Gaffney, Sprint’s director of sports programming, Sprint’s NFL sponsorship and Now Network gives the operator the ability to deliver the latest draft news and information as it happens directly to the fans whenever they are.

NFL Mobile is available free to Sprint’s data subscribers and can be downloaded by texting NFL to 7777, or via the Vision or Power Vision Sports deck. NFL Mobile is also included as part of Sprint’s Simply Everything unlimited pricing plan for $99.99 per month.

 

Sony BMG Joins Comes With Music

By Teresa von Fuchs

Nokia announced that Sony BMG Music has joined the handset maker’s unlimited music download service, Comes With Music. The service offers one year of unlimited music downloads with the purchase of new music-compatible mobile phone.

“As one of the leading major music companies in the world, our collaboration with Sony BMG means we can offer a huge range of fantastic music from both international and local artists,” said Tero Ojanperä, executive vice president and head of the Nokia Entertainment and Communities business, in a statement. “It's great to have them on board as we move forward with bringing our unlimited music bundle to the market.”

Nokia originally announced the service in conjunction with Universal Music. Along with downloading unlimited songs to handsets, customers also will be able to access their music from a PC.

Comes With Music is expected to launch in the second half of 2008 on a range of Nokia devices in selected markets.

Nokia also announced two new music-enabled XpressMusic handsets: the Nokia 5320 XpressMusic and Nokia 5220 XpressMusic. Both are expected to begin shipping in Q3 2008, in the retail price range of $254 to $350 before subsidies.

The Nokia 5320 XpressMusic comes with a new voice-controlled Say and Play feature, dedicated XpressMusic keys, a 3.5mm audio jack, up to 24 hours of playback time, an audio chip for hi-fi sound quality, extendable memory up to 8 GB, HS-USB for fast music transfer and HSDPA for fast access to data.

The Nokia 5220 XpressMusic features an asymmetrical design, up to 24 hours playback time, dedicated XpressMusic keys and a 3.5mm audio jack.

 

TESSCO Backs Reseller Growth Initiatives

By Rhonda Wickham

TESSCO Technologies, provider of product and supply chain solutions, is supporting the company’s reseller channel with added finance programs through GE Capital Solutions’ Commercial Distribution Finance unit (CDF).

CDF will provide 60-day free-financing terms for qualified channel partners that buy products and solutions through TESSCO. CDF’s distribution finance program will provide streamlined credit processes and e-commerce efficiencies to help speed up the process.

According to Robert Barnhill, TESSCO’s chairman, president and CEO, the relationship the company has developed with CDF allows TESSCO to increase the payment choices and flexible financing options that its reseller partners need.

For more information about the 60-day interest-free financing program, go to www.tessco.com/go/gecapital.

 

ProVision Delivers LTE Network Planning

By Rhonda Wickham

U.K.-based ProVision Communications is now shipping the ProPhecy 4G, an advanced network planning and optimization tool suite for LTE. ProPhecy 4G helps operators improve the network quality of service and maximize the data throughput per user while substantially reducing capital investment and operating costs.

The unit includes a 3D planning and modeling capability for urban and rural environments. The toolset also includes a site location tool that takes account of economic factors as well as technical performance criteria in order to optimize the number and locations of base stations. The tools also include spatial diversity information, frequency planning, and support for sectorized and multi-element antennas (MIMO).

 

Australian Carrier Dismantles Decade-Old CDMA Network

By Teresa von Fuchs

Australian mobile carrier Telstra announced that beginning at midnight next Monday it will begin the process of closing down its CDMA network across the country. The carrier said it has been preparing to close the network for more than two years, and that the process will be in stages beginning initially in the eastern states.

Mike Wright, wireless executive director for Telstra, said in a statement: “Closing the CDMA mobile network is a complicated process and our engineering team has ensured nothing has been left to chance.” He said that any calls that are in process at the time of the closure will be allowed to continue until 1 a.m. local time.

The telecom said that following the network closure, any calls to a remaining CDMA service will receive a “number disconnected” announcement, while text messages will receive a “message not sent” notice.

The carrier has about 3,500 CDMA sites to remove. The carrier said any equipment still of value will be reused, sold, recycled or appropriately discarded.

 

News Briefs for April 22, 2008

Companies in today’s briefs include: Verizon Wireless, RF Micro Devices, Vodafone, NTT DoCoMo, LiMo Foundation, NEC America, Panasonic Mobile Communications, Nationlink Wireless, ReCellular, Jinny Software, Sunrise Telecom, Oracle, V-Enable, Sprint, Laird Technologies, Unicast, Aerohive, UTStarcom, Bubble Motion, Syniverse Technologies

Verizon Wireless announced that the U.K. ’s biggest female star, Natasha Bedingfield, has joined forces with the carrier to connect with fans via mobile technology. Bedingfield is launching her headlining tour in the United States, with a 20-city schedule that kicks off in Myrtle Beach, S.C., on May 21.  Lucky Verizon Wireless customers who download Bedingfield’s content via their V Cast-enabled handsets will have a chance to win a pair of tickets sent directly to their phones.

RF Micro Devices has announced five new single junction circulators for wireless infrastructure applications. The new circulator product family includes the PC0882AG-21H, PC0940AG-21H, PC1843AG-21H, PC1960AG-21H and PC2140AG-21H. Each new circulator promises excellent electrical performance and rugged construction required by the demanding operational requirements of the high power, linear amplifier and transceiver sections of cellular base stations, repeaters and other forms of transmission equipment.

• By 2020, Vodafone has said it hopes to reduce its CO2 emissions by 50% against its 2006/2007 baseline. The world’s largest telecom said that this target will be achieved primarily by improvements in energy efficiency and increased use of renewable energy. As part of its climate change strategy, Vodafone also will be focusing on developing products and services which will help customers limit their own emissions.

NTT DoCoMo announced that it will develop an operator pack for FOMA 3G handsets compatible with specifications established by the LiMo Foundation. DoCoMo expects to begin introducing handsets equipped with the operator pack in the second half of 2009. The pack will contain a suite of Linux operating system-based software applications that implement i-mode, i-appli and other unique DoCoMo services. The new operator pack will incorporate elements of a Linux-version MOAP that DoCoMo has developed with NEC Corporation and Panasonic Mobile Communications.

• Beginning today, Franklin, Tenn.-based NationLink Wireless is offering GreenLink, a cell phone recycling program. The company will begin collecting used cell phones and accessories through its website, www.mynationlink.com/greenlink and at the company’s headquarters.  NationLink also will pick up phones at corporate locations in the Nashville area. For each phone donated through GreenLink, NationLink will make a donation equal to the value of the phone to Easter Seals Tennessee in the name of the cell phone donor.

• Through GreenLink, NationLink will work with ReCellular to ensure that every phone is scrubbed of all data to protect client security. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that 130 million cell phones are retired annually in the United States alone.  However, only 1% of retired cell phones are recycled or reused.  Phones that are recycled can be broken down into component parts, such as plastics and precious metals, which can be used in products from kitchen cabinetry to circuitry boards.

Jinny Software has won two new SMSC deals with operators in Peru and Brazil, both of which are part of a larger Brazilian group operator. The Brazilian deal extends an earlier deal for a message router to include the Jinny SMSC. In Peru, Jinny will provide the operator with a SIGTRAN SMSC. SIGTRAN provides SS7 Signaling over IP replacing the functionality provided by a traditional SS7 link.

• T&M solution provider Sunrise Telecom unveiled Mobile X-Ray, a monitoring and analysis platform that improves the operators’ ability to speed migration of mobile data services (MDS) over next-generation wireless networks. Mobile X-Ray helps operators  diagnose and manage next-generation deployments by correlating essential information from the network, services, subscribers and user devices. The platform features an Oracle-based Expert Engine, an intelligent data collection and correlation architecture that takes real-time input from distributed probes and translates them into critical information designed to help the operator make decisions about their networks.

• Local mobile search and directory assistance services provider V-Enable is making the full-featured downloadable version of FreeMobile411 available to Sprint customers. This voice-enabled application allows users to speak what they are looking for by holding the talk key of their phones, and see the results displayed on the screen within seconds.

Laird Technologies announced its suite of Dual Slant 45 WiMAX base station antennas, which includes the 2.5 GHz 65-degree, 2.5 GHz 90-degree, a 3.5 GHz 65-degree and 3.5 GHz 90-degree.  All of these antennas are ideal for Maximal Ratio Combining (MRC), MIMO and other wireless wide area network applications. Other features include low sidelobe performance, excellent front-to-back ratio and high-level co-located antenna-to-antenna isolation.

Unicast, a division of Enliven Marketing Technologies, introduced a new mobile marketing SMS technology as a part of its Unicast Rich Media Mobile suite of products. Unicast's Rich Media Mobile technology is a hosted delivery and tracking solution for optimized rich mobile Web page content. The Unicast platform provides the tools for advertisers and agencies to create, deliver and measure the effectiveness of rich media mobile ad campaigns. The new Rich SMS feature enhances Unicast's current mobile marketing offering and allows marketers to bridge online advertising and mobile marketing channels for a comprehensive and integrated digital advertising solution.

Aerohive Networks, creators of the "cooperative control" wireless LAN (WLAN) access point (HiveAP),  announced a portfolio of 802.11n HiveAPs. The portfolio includes a dual-radio HiveAP 320 for indoor use, the metal-chassis dual-radio HiveAP 340 for indoor-industrial use and the waterproof 3-radio HiveAP 380 for outdoor use. Each product has 2 Gb Ethernet ports that provide power-over-Ethernet (PoE).

UTStarcom announced that Frankie Sum has joined the company as regional vice president of international sales for UTStarcom’s Asia-Pacific operations. Prior to joining UTStarcom, Sum served as head of Asia sales for EDS and held a variety of senior positions at Cisco Systems, Software AG, Informix Software, Concurrent Computer Corporation and IBM.

Bubble Motion, provider of voice SMS, added to its ranks with the addition of TS Ramakrishnan as chief technology officer, Paul Hedman as vice president of EMEA, Chris Dunn as chief financial officer and Rick Osterloh as adviser to the executive team.

• Jerry Easom, Syniverse Technologies’ vice president of industry affairs, has been named to the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association (CWTA) Board of Directors as its trade representative. Easom, who has been a member of the CWTA trade council for about nine years, will serve a 2-year term.

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