TBT Throwback Thursday web new 702x3361 1

#TBT: Virtual palm readings; Verizon, Qwest duel over MCI; Mobile phone growing pains … this week in 2005 – RCR Wireless News

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 those sepia-tinted shades, set the date for #TBT and enjoy the memories!

Virtual palm readings! Just send a picture message

LONDON-U.K. wireless subscribers with camera phones can submit a picture of their hands for a palm reading, a British psychic television channel said Thursday. Your Destiny TV is behind the service, which reads photos of users’ palms and delivers text messages with the reading. The palm reading application is available to subscribers with carriers O2, Vodafone, Orange, 3 and T-Mobile for $5.84 per reading. The television station said a recent trial of the offering saw “encouraging numbers” of users submitting photos for a reading. … Read more

Wireless internet use booms

NEW YORK-The number of wireless Internet users last year grew 29 percent, according to a study from market research firm Ipsos. “The Face of the Web” study is based on interviews in 12 global markets with more than 6,500 adult respondents. According to the report, an estimated 171 million people, or about 44 percent of Internet users, have accessed the Internet via a wireless device. Japan was a leader in growth among adults who use the Internet via a wireless connection, said the report. Wireless Internet also gained some popularity in Western Europe, South Korea and urban China, said the report. The report found, in general, more adults connect to the Internet with a mobile device rather than using a laptop to connect to the Internet wirelessly. Other findings include 21-percent growth in e-mail usage on mobile phones and more than 40-percent growth in video and picture exchanging and Internet browsing on mobile devices. Mobile-commerce applications also showed growth, with wireless online purchasers doubling and wireless online bankers increasing by 60 percent. … Read more

Aircell demos in-flight ATG link for personal cell phones

LOUISVILLE, Colo.-AirCell said it will begin conducting flight demonstrations in July with a prototype of its system that allows commercial airline passengers to use their own mobile devices in flight over a broadband air-to-ground link. AirCell expects to commercially deploy its AirCell Broadband System next year, and said the summer demonstrations will mark a major milestone in the company’s development program. The system provides a dedicated terrestrial broadband air-to-ground link, which the company said provides a lower-cost alternative to currently available satellite options. The demonstration will use a small number of ground cellular sites that will be temporarily outfitted with antennas and electronics for the demonstration. The system also will use an Iridium satellite link to extend coverage, a cabin picocell that will allow passengers to make calls from their own wireless phone, and a cabin telecommunications router that provides wireless connectivity for Wi-Fi-equipped laptops and personal digital assistants. … Read more

When $20 a year could get you ‘all available video’

Microsoft Corp. will provide daily downloadable video content including news, sports and entertainment programming for Windows Mobile-based devices, the company announced Wednesday. MSN Video Downloads will deliver a subscription-based mobile TV service featuring content from channels including FOX Sports, MTV Networks, Napster Inc., Food Network and IFILM Corp. MSNBC.com will provide updated news segments throughout the day, and other channels will provide children’s programming, comedy clips and music videos. A limited amount of free content will be available; a $20 annual fee buys access to all available videos. Paid subscribers can select the content they’d like to receive from the service’s Web site. … Read more

Verizon, Qwest duel for MCI acquisition

MCI Inc.’s board of directors elected to accept Verizon Communications Inc.’s increased bid for the business, again rejecting Qwest Communications International Inc.’s larger takeover offer. Verizon increased its bid for MCI by almost $1 billion and included a clause in the contract to protect MCI investors against Verizon’s falling stock price. MCI in February agreed to a $6.75 billion bid from Verizon, but Qwest sought to snatch MCI away from Verizon with a $8.45 billion bid for the carrier. Qwest said it would consider its options following Verizon’s increased bid. “We respect the right of Verizon to change the composition and value of their bid, but we still believe our proposal creates superior value for shareowners,” Qwest said in a statement. The carrier’s takeover offer ends April 5. “We are going to assess the situation and determine what is in the best interests of shareowners, customers and employees.” Verizon’s new $7.6 billion takeover bid is still less than that from Qwest. However, MCI again pointed to Verizon’s financial stability and its wireless assets as reasons for accepting the carrier’s offer. … Read more

Cingular sells ‘American Idol’ chat service

ATLANTA-Cingular Wireless together with Telescope Inc. announced a new premium short message service chat function for fans of the television show “American Idol.” The companies are offering two chat services during this season of “American Idol.” The first, Idol Chat, allows fans of the show to chat with other fans. Idol Interview allows fans to interview celebrity guests that are featured on the show. To use the chat services, Cingular customers send in their user names and agree to pay charges that will appear on their mobile-phone bills. Then they can enter chat rooms where they send and receive messages on their wireless handsets via text messaging. All messages are read and approved by moderators to weed out any inappropriate messages. … Read more

Crown Castle eyes mobile TV

As a tower operator, Crown Castle International Inc. is venturing into a less familiar environment as an enabler of what may grow into a major application in the wireless industry: mobile television. By a stroke of good fortune, the company acquired a spectrum license in 2003, which makes it the only tower company with authority over the 1670 to 1675 MHz spectrum bands. Crown Castle owns more than 10,000 towers and holds nationwide spectrum that is unencumbered. “It was an opportunistic purchase at an attractive price,” remarked Jay Brown, spokesman for the tower operator. But the company does not view mobile TV as a great driver of its revenue, even though major operators, device makers, content providers and equipment vendors are angling for a piece of the fledgling mobile TV business. “It is not going to be large enough to be a significant,” piece of the tower company’s business, he said. Indeed, the company said it plans to bring in strategic partners and already counts a few: Nokia Corp. and Samsung Electronics. Nokia will provide the GSM phones while Samsung will provide CDMA phones. In the chip area, CCI is working with Texas Instruments Inc. CCI and Nokia are already trialing the technology in Pittsburgh, and they expect to begin deployments of the service in select major U.S. markets during 2005. Tests are also under way in New York. “We don’t want to compete with our customers,” said Brown. CCI “will not end up being an operator,” agreed Michael Thelander of Signals Research, adding that “somebody else is going to come in, an operator or somebody new.” He added: “It comes down to better utilization.” … Read more

More capabilities, more problems in smartphones

T-Mobile USA Inc. suspended sales of the Hewlett-Packard Co. iPAQ h6315 smart phone due to unexplained software bugs, a move that illustrates the extremely advanced levels of technology packed into high-end devices as well as the risks carriers face in selling them. Wireless stands head and shoulders above much of the rest of the consumer electronics industry when it comes to technical intricacy. Unlike plasma TVs, laptop computers, satellite radios or MP3 players, high-end wireless devices combine multiple radios, software platforms and hardware innovations into handheld gadgets smaller than most cordless phones. But wireless both benefits and suffers from its position on the razor edge of high-tech science and engineering. The sales cycle in the wireless industry has shrunk to a window of mere months, and industry players must constantly balance customer requirements against competitive concerns. Nevertheless, the allure of a burgeoning market and the promise of bragging rights for a successful product have attracted numerous competitors. PalmOne Inc., Research In Motion Ltd., Motorola Inc., Nokia Corp., Sierra Wireless Inc., Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., Danger Inc., Siemens AG and-most recently-HP have all jumped into the smart-phone market with hopes of achieving gadgetry greatness. Some have gained a modest amount of success, while others have struggled. T-Mobile and HP said they are working on a software upgrade for the iPAQ h6315 “that will deliver an improved customer experience,” T-Mobile said in a statement. … Read more

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

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