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Hybred satellite-cell pocket phone may arrive this year

Previous attempts to create a mass-market satellite phone may have failed miserably, but a Virginia-based satellite firm believes it has a better solution that just may work this time.  TerreStar Networks plans to launch a mobile phone service this year that offers a mix of satellite and cellular service.  TerreStar phones will connect via the AT&T network when in cell range, and switch to the company’s satellite service when they’re not.  TerreStar hopes to attract federal agencies and emergency workers who need phone service when cellular networks fail, such as during natural disasters. FULL STORY_PC World_7/1/09

US cuts off 'criminal' net firm
An American ISP allegedly involved in distributing spam and images of child abuse has been thrown off the net. The US Federal Trade Commission asked for Pricewert LLC's net links to be severed after it had gathered evidence of the firm's 'criminal' connections. The FTC alleges that Pricewert had created one of the "leading US-based havens for illegal, malicious, and harmful content". Pricewert denied the allegations and said it would fight them in court. So far, the FTC has not been able to identify who was behind Pricewert. Although its servers are based in the US, it is registered as a business in Belize and many of its employees are thought to be located in Eastern Europe. FULL STORY BBC_6/5/09

U.S. Senate nears deal to delay digital TV transition
The Senate appeared close to agreement late Thursday on a bill to delay next month's planned transition from analog to digital television broadcasting to June 12 — setting the stage for a vote early next week.Senate Republicans last week blocked Democratic efforts to push back the Feb. 17 deadline for the analog shutoff. The Democrats cited mounting concerns that too many Americans who rely on analog TV sets to pick up over-the-air broadcast signals won't be ready.  More than 6.5 million U.S. households are still not prepared for the upcoming transition and could see their TV sets go dark next month.  "The shameful truth is that we are not poised to do this transition right," said Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John D. Rockefeller, D-W.V., author of the bill to delay the switchover. "We are only weeks away from doing it dreadfully wrong — and leaving consumers with the consequences."  Republicans in both the House and Senate have raised concerns that a delay would confuse consumers, create added costs for television stations that would have to continue broadcasting both analog and digital signals and burden wireless companies and public safety agencies waiting for spectrum that will be freed up by the switch.

FULL STORY_AP-1/23/09

MIT creates picture of NY communications

Global vs. local

For the past two months, 24 hours a day, MIT researchers have been collecting the electronic communications of millions of New Yorkers — but not for salacious gossip or to protect national security.They've been building a census that shows, neighborhood by neighborhood, New York's telephone and Internet links to other cities across the planet and how those connections change over time.  "Our cities and the globe are blanketed with flowing bits of digital data, and looking at this data, we're able to better understand the physical world," said Carlo Ratti, director of the SENSEable City Laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Visualizations from the New York Talk Exchange (NYTE) project are part of a new exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art called "Design and the Elastic Mind." Open through May, the exhibition examines how designers use technology in ways that change lives. The information reveals a trove of interesting population patterns. By looking at the neighborhoods where the data came from, researchers determined that New Yorkers who engage in global gab tend to be on the high end of the socio-economic scale or struggling to make ends meet. Translation: international business and professional people or poor immigrants.  "The striking piece of evidence coming out of this project is that global talk happens both at the top of the economy and at its lower end," Saskia Sassen, a Columbia University professor and globalization expert, wrote for the project catalog. "The vast middle layers of our society are far less global. The middle talks mostly nationally and locally."  Nayan Chanda, an expert on globalization, said such research "is absolutely worthwhile."  "This fast communication that links the world has made globalization much more intense and much more visible. It gives you a very valuable footprint of the extent to which a country is involved in global communications. It's interesting for demographers, for people studying economics, telecommunications and business," said Chanda, director of publications at the Yale Center for the Study of Globalization.  FULL STORY_Yahoo News_2/29/08

Disney cellphone service in Japan to target women

Walt Disney Co., which shut down its U.S. cellphone service last year, is starting a similar service in Japan. But this time it is targeting different customers: adult women instead of children.  Disney's Japan unit said yesterday that its new Disney Mobile service will start March 1 in partnership with Softbank Mobile Corp., Japan's third-largest mobile operator in terms of subscribers. It plans to offer content including ring tones, videos and games to female Disney fans in their 20s and 30s. Users also will be able to customize phone screens and emails with Disney-theme graphics.  Disney, which already offers nearly 90 mobile Web sites on existing mobile operators' networks in Japan, said 75% of the 3.5 million subscribers to those sites were women older than age 20. FULL STORY Wall Street Journal1/23/08

Cell phones cause traffic jams?

A University of Utah study found conversation -- and not the use of hands-free phone devices -- is the main distraction while driving and talking on cell phones.  Cell phone usage is being blamed for several problems this week as a University of Utah study found that cell phone usage on highways causes traffic jams.   David Strayer, a psychology professor at the University of Utah, said new research not only showed that the cars of drivers talking on cell phones tended to move slower, but also that the conversational activity tends to cause traffic to show down.  "At the end of the day, the average person's commute is longer because of that person who is on the cell phone right in front of them," Strayer said in a statement. "That SOB on the cell phone is slowing you down and making you late."  The Utah study is scheduled to be presented during the U.S. Transportation Research Board's annual meeting later this month; the board is a unit within the National Academy of Engineering and Institute of Medicine. FULL STORY_Information Week 1/3/08

Duke University WI-Fi crippled by Apple iPhones

Even before Duke University disclosed that some 150 iPhones have been wreaking Wi-Fi havoc on campus -- effectively taking out wireless access points in inadvertent denial-of-service attacks -- several research firms had issued stern warnings about the security risks that Apple's iPhones might pose to enterprise networks.  One of the big selling points of Apple's iPhone is the ability to connect to the Internet via Wi-Fi, but I.T. pros at Duke University might say otherwise. The iPhones on campus are flooding the school's wireless LAN with as many as 18,000 access requests per second, temporarily knocking out access points for 10 to 15 minutes at a time, according to Kevin Miller, Duke's assistant director of communications infrastructure .  The iPhones are requesting a router address that's not valid on Duke's network. When there's no answer, the iPhones keep asking, a process that essentially amounts to a distributed denial-of-service attack, knocking out access points and keeping Duke's I.T. staff scrambling.  FULL STORY_Sci-Tech Today 7/18/07

France's Alcatel set to buy U.S. rival Lucent Technologies in $34 billion merger

The deal would create the world's biggest telecoms equipment company with combined sales of 21 billion euros ($25.33 billion). The current market leader is Cisco Systems. The new group will be incorporated and headquartered in France, two sources close to the matter said on Friday, and Alcatel intends to keep its stake of almost 10 percent in European defense electronics group Thales, amid market speculation it could sell the stake to defense and aerospace group EADS to facilitate the planned merger. The rapid conversion of technologies and the growth of "triple play" -- the provision of TV, high-speed Internet and voice services over phone lines -- is prompting consolidation in the telecoms and media sectors. French financial advisers believe Alcatel has also looked at media technology company Thomson for a takeover similar to the buy of set-top-box maker Scientific Atlanta by Cisco.  Full Story Reuters_ 3/24/06

Eds Note: Lucent is the owner of 81-year-old Bell Labs, in Murray Hill, New Jersey, where scientists invented the transistor and the Unix operating system, among other notable advances. Eleven Bell Labs scientists have won Nobel prizes for work done there.

Senate panel sets end to analog TV broadcasts
A U.S. Senate panel on Thursday set an April 7, 2009 deadline for television stations to switch entirely to digital broadcasts, the latest effort to provide certainty to the transition that will free airwaves for wireless companies and emergency responders.  The legislation approved by the Senate Commerce Committee would require stations to end their analog broadcasts and return those airwaves to the government, some of which would be sold in an auction that could bring in $10 billion or more.  Full Story_ Reuters 10/20/05

Cisco Systems to supply Palestine Telecoms
Cisco Systems and Palestinian telecommunications firm PalTel have announced that the U.S. internet networking company will help build telecoms infrastructure in the West Bank and Gaza.  Both companies signed a memorandum of understanding to cooperate at a short ceremony on the sidelines of a World Economic Forum meeting in Jordan.  PalTel said in a statement that it was experiencing rapid growth in demand in the West bank and Gaza. Local telephone traffic has risen to 160 million minutes a day from 15 million in 1997, it said. 

Full Story_ Reuters 5/22/05

 

Cell phone makers choose between style and tech
After years of making smaller mobile phones with color screens and built-in cameras, the world's handset makers are exploring new ways to make their phones sell.  Fashion and design lock horns with technology.  Full Story _ Reuters 2/25/05

Intel unveils laser breakthrough
The chip is the first to produce continuous laser light. The breakthrough should make it easier to interconnect data networks with the chips that process the information. The Intel researchers said products exploiting the breakthrough should appear by the end of the decade. Writing in the journal Nature, Dr Paniccia and colleagues Haisheng Rong, Richard Jones, Ansheng Liu, Oded Cohen, Dani Hak and Alexander Fang show how they have made a continuous laser from the same material used to make computer processors.  Full Story BBC News_ 2/16/05

Verizon buying MCI for $6.75 Billion in stock, cash and dividends
Verizon Communications agreed Monday to buy MCI in a cash, stock and special dividend deal worth nearly $6.75 billion. MCI's stable of business customers and its Internet and data business, more than its traditional consumer long-distance service, that prompted the deal analysts say. Full Story_ CNN 2/14/05


Some fear virus threat to cell phones
Malicious programs that can delete address books. Junk messages that flood a cell phone's inbox. Stealthy code that uses Bluetooth wireless technology to sneak onto handsets. Scared yet? Security experts say plagues like these will target mobile phones, but others contend cell phone viruses are the tech equivalent of smallpox: To the best of anyone's knowledge, they exist only in labs.  Full Story  AP_12/27/04

Phone makers ask for more research into DNA damage
Two of the world's top mobile phone makers said more research is needed into the potential for cell phone radiation to damage DNA, following a laboratory study by 12 European institutes which found harmful effects. Motorola and Sony Ericsson, the world's No. 3 and 6 mobile phone makers, said they needed further scientific evidence that radio waves harm body cells and damage DNA.  Full Story  Reuters_12/22/04

 

Radio waves from mobile phones 'alter human DNA'

But the European Union-funded Reflex research did not prove such changes were a risk to human health. A spokesman said the study had not shown the biological changes led to disease. Around 1.5 billion people around the world use mobile phones. 

Full Story   BBC News_ 12/21/04

 

Scottish firm develops search engine that reads out results

Called Speegle, it has the look and feel of a normal search engine. Scottish speech technology firm CEC Systems launched the site in November. But experts have questioned whether talking search engines are of any real benefit to people with visual impairments.  Full Story   BBC News_ 12/21/04

 

F.C.C. lets big Bells charge rivals more to use phone lines

Telephone executives and industry analysts predicted a sharp rise in local phone rates over the next year after a bitterly divided Federal Communications Commission relaxed rules that had required the nation's four large Bell telephone companies to give their rivals access to their networks at sharply discounted wholesale rates. The decision, approved by the commission's three Republican members over the dissents of its two Democrats, was an important victory for the Bell companies, and another in a series of regulatory and legal setbacks for such rivals as AT&T, MCI and a group of smaller competitors.  Full Story  New York Times 12/15/04 (logon required)

November, 2004

Battle for the 'last mile:' The WiMax challenge for phone company high-speed Internet business customers

Firms like TowerStream deliver fast, cheap service without digging up streets to install cables. The emerging industry sells a technology known as WiMax, or worldwide interoperability for microwave access. Unlike WiFi, the radio wave technology in airports and cafes that allows users to log on to the Internet from their laptop computers within 150 feet of an antenna, WiMax delivers broadband Internet connections through fixed antennas that send and receive signals across entire cities.  Full Story  New York Times_ 11/29/04  (logon required)


FCC expected to shield Internet-based telephone services like Vonage from key state regulations

Vonage Holdings Corp., which has more than 300,000 lines in service, allows a customer to make telephone calls nationwide and to Canada for a flat fee using equipment attached to a high-speed Internet, or broadband, connection. But Vonage is battling with state regulators, like Minnesota, which are demanding Vonage obtain state certification, be subject to rate regulation and offer emergency 911 services comparable to those of land lines. Full Story  Reuters_ 11/8/04

September, 2004
Electronics firm Amstrad launches cut-price home videophone

Video calls can only be made between Amstrad's E3 handsets but the devices can also be used to browse the web and send e-mail messages. The handsets can also take still photos that can be sent to other computers or mobile phones.  Full Story  BBC News_ 9/15/04

Built for the U.S., golbal telecommunications networks worth billions now belong to Chinese, Indian and other non-American companies
The shift in ownership of the networks, which are used to carry much of the world's Internet traffic, comes less than four years after the telecommunications bubble burst. In retrospect, analysts say, American investors overpaid to set up the global networks and have ended up inadvertently financing them for foreign owners who bought at fire-sale prices when the companies fell on hard times.  Full Story  New York Times_ 8/26/04 (logon required)

FCC: Web phone calls must allow wiretaps
Internet phone carriers such as Vonage should set up their systems so U.S. law enforcers can monitor suspicious calls, according to a tentative ruling by the Federal Communications Commission. VoIP service is likely to replace much traditional phone service over the coming years, the commission said.  Full Story  Reuters/MSNBC_ 8/4/04

June, 2004

Wiretaps should apply to Internet phone calls -- Justice Dept
Investigators could find it harder to monitor Internet-based phone calls if the government exempts them from traditional telephone regulations, Deputy Assistant Attorney General Laura Parsky told a Senate committee. Voice Over Internet Protocol, or VoIP, promises to dramatically cut phone bills by using the Internet to carry voice calls. Lawmakers and regulators must determine whether the new technology should be subjected to traditional phone requirements, such as emergency 911 service and access guarantees for the disabled and those living in remote rural areas.  Full Story  Reuters_ 6/16/04


France Telecom-owned mobile operator Orange launches world's smallest smartphone

The new smartphoneis one third smaller than its predecessor and the handset is the world's smallest that can handle computer applications. The carrier also said that by the second half of 2004 it would have specially designed "Orange-signature" phones from all six major vendors, adding models from South Korea's Samsung Electronics and Germany's Siemens. The telephones have functions unique to Orange. The new phone, the SPV C500, is contract manufactured for Orange by Taiwan-based High Tech Computer Corp and runs on Microsoft Windows for smartphones.  Full Story  Reuters_ 6/8/04

May, 2004
Divided California Public Utilities Commission narrowly adopts a consumer "bill of rights" that all telecommunications carriers operating in the state must follow
The plan spells out regulations governing telephone contracts, services, bills, marketing, and privacy rights for Californians. The rules, which also apply to cell phones, will go into effect in 180 days. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said he was "disappointed", saying the CPUC "overreached its regulatory responsibilities."  Full Story  Reuters_ 5/27/04

SBC Communications and union reach deal after 4-day strike
The Communications Workers of America, the union representing 100,000 employees ay said the tentative agreement would save jobs and SBC said could save it nearly $2 billion over the next five years. While the deal gives union members annual wage increases, a five-year ban on some layoffs and the prospect of moving outsourced jobs back from overseas, it also allows SBC to require increased health-care payments by employees and does not offer new employees the same job security as current workers. The accord, which must be approved by workers, came after a four-day strike.  Full Story  Reuters_ 5/25/04


SBC Communications Inc. and the Communications Workers of America, a union representing 100,000 employees in 13 states, reach tentative agreement

The announcement came just minutes before workers ended a four-day strike at 12:01 a.m. today and details weren't immediately released. Key issues were health care and job security. The union called the strike after rejecting a five-year contract proposal from SBC.  Full Story  San Francisco Chronicle 5/25/04


Illinois-based Tellabs Inc. buys  Advanced Fibre Communications for $1.9 billion
Krish Prabhu, Tellabs' new chief executive officer and president, said the purchase creates the first company with a product line stretching the telephone infrastructure from the curb in front of the customer's home to phone company offices and onto the Internet. Advanced Fibre Communications is a California company specializing in access gear linking phone companies to the home and small businesses. Tellabs Inc. is a telecom company specializing in transport equipment linking phone companies to the Internet.  Full Story  Chicago Sun Times_ 5/21/04


Union representing 100,000 SBC Communications Inc. workers in 13 states launches four-day strike
SBC, the No. 2 U.S. local phone company, said the strike by roughly 60 percent of its work force had not affected its network, and that it had called in 40,000 managers, retirees and contractors as replacements. At issue are health care, job security, wages and pensions. Full Story  Reuters_ 5/21/04


Union representing 100,000 workers at SBC Communications Inc. calls a four-day strike to begin Friday
Talks between SBC, the No. 2 U.S. local telephone company, and the Communications Workers of America for a new five-year contract faltered, as the union accused the local telephone company of negotiating in bad faith and SBC said it had offered as many concessions at it could.  Full Story  Reuters_ 5/19/04

Verizon Communications Inc. pushes $1 billion fiber optic network

Some analysts say it's a risky strategy that may be the only salvation for beleaguered local telephone companies. The "Baby Bells" have long regarded networks built on fiber optic cables as the ultimate weapon to fight off challenges from cable companies and new competitors. Such networks could carry video on demand, telephone calls and Internet downloads at speeds more than 30 times faster than today's fastest home broadband links.  Full Story  Reuters_ 5/18/04

Allied Defense Group subsidiary VSK Group announces $3 million electronic security contract from Portugal Telecom
The contract calls for the protection of several hundred remote switching sites and regional offices with VSK's electronic security products.  Full Story  Press Release/PRNewswire 5/6/04

African rush for mobile phones makes it world's fastest-growing market
The International Telecommunication Union says more Africans have begun using phones since 2000 than in the whole of the previous century and more use mobile phones than traditional fixed lines. However, only about half of sub-Saharan Africa is covered by a mobile signal, and many people remain too poor to buy their own phone.  Full Story  BBC News_ 5/5/04

April, 2004

Internet phone services cause telecom industry observers to question how well the old local phone companies will defend themselves
So far, cable companies and firms like Vonage have only nibbled at the edges of the local telephone market with voice over Internet Protocol service, or VOIP, winning about 250,000 customers.  Full Story  Reuters_ 4/15/04

Intel's new chips target future phones
Previously code-named Bulverde, the chips have been built to support the growing number of wireless technologies phones are being expected to handle.  Full

Story  BBC News_ 4/13/04

U.S. Trade Representative says China and South Korea plan new barriers to U.S. telecommunications technology
The new measures are set to go into effect in June. USTR said it "will consider all possible options to address these barriers." No details on possible U.S. actions were given.  Full Story  Reuters_ 4/7/04

Canada leans toward applying existing telephone rules to most Internet phone calls
Phone executives say the tentative decision worsens an already haphazard regulatory landscape governing Net phone service providers. Any Net phone provider that supplies 10-digit phone numbers to subscribers, then lets them make or get calls from traditional dialers, would have to follow the regulations, according to the nonbinding decision released Wednesday by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC).  Full Story  CNET News.com 4/7/04

Cell phones disrupt some police and fire department radios
Some places can't use their radios to call for help because of interference from cell signals. Emergency radios broadcast on the same 800 megahertz spectrum as cell phones.  Full Story  AP/MSNBC  4/5/04

Terrorists have been using the built-in alarms in mobile phones to set off explosives
High profile figures like Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf reportedly are turning to radio jammers to block attacks on their cars. The U.S. Department of Defense has plans to jam larger areas.  Full Story  CNN 4/4/04

March, 2004

San Francisco ballpark becomes first pro sports stadium WiFi internet hub
The San Francisco Giant's wired stadium is the latest in a growing world of wireless connectivity. Earlier this month the city of San Jose, the capital of Silicon Valley, began offering free WiFi service in its downtown areas.  Full Story  Reuters 3/30/04

Used phones a threat to big suppliers on China mobile market
A hefty 40 percent of the 62 million new mobile accounts in China last year came from people using second-hand cellphones, says research firm Gartner.   Full Story  Reuters 3/31/04

Mobile phones to operate TV video recorders, says Opera
Opera Software said that the Mobile Interactive Programming Guide (IPG) would allow clients to look up television schedules on a mobile phone and then press "record" to a video recorder, no matter how far away.

  Full Story  Reuters 3/30/04

Four of Europe's biggest mobile phone firms join forces to dwarf market leader Vodafone
Germany's T-Mobile, France's Orange, Spain's Telefonica and Italian TIM unveil a joint brand - FreeMove. With 230 million subscribers worldwide, FreeMove hopes to offer a seamless service across all its member networks.  Full Story  BBC 3/29/04

Tectronic Engineering solves cell site selection and construction issues with new program
Tectonic, as program manager, and American Water, the leading water services provider in the United States, have teamed up to make over two thousand facilities (water tanks and towers, raw land, rooftops, etc.) in 19 states nationwide available to the cellular industry. These locations involve some of the most challenging states to obtain zoning approval, including New York, New Jersey, Virginia and California.  Full Story  Press Release 3/27/04

Cellular execs say go slow on high-speed wireless
High-speed wireless data technology claimed much of the limelight at this year's Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association industry show in Atlanta, but before they pour billions into faster networks, executives want more time to evaluate the technology and wait for more advanced consumer devices, such as phones that can send and receive video clips.  Full Story  Reuters 3/24/04


AT&T Wireless opens for transatlantic texting
The U.S.-based mobile telecoms carrier said its 22 million United States customers could send and receive short SMS text messages to over 263 million mobile phone users in Europe. The company, the country's third largest mobile carrier, said it was the biggest effort to date to open up the mobile texting market between the two continents.  Full story  Reuters 3/23/04

Cell phone firms told to go back to basics: 'Phones don't work that well.'
‘Hip-hop impresario Russell Simmons told wireless executives at CTIA Wireless 2004 that the industry should improve its chief product -- voice calls -- and only then focus on developing new data-centric features like downloadable music. His comments run counter to the overall direction the cell phone industry is taking as it hunts for new revenue sources.  Full story  CNET News.com/MSNBC 3/23/04

Motorola to launch world phone later this year; North American market will see it first
The world's No. 2 mobile phone maker said in an announcement at CTIA the new cell phone will let consumers roam between networks that use incompatible standards.  Full story  Reuters 3/23/04

Tech giants abuzz over VoIP for cell phones
Sun Microsystems and other tech giants are calling Internet phone technology the cell phone industry's next big thing, saying it will help solve old problems and create new services. Sun CEO Scott McNealy announced at the CTIA Wireless 2004 show that Internet phone calling technology known as voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is playing a key role in a device the company is developing in an effort to eliminate the office phone.  Full Story  CNET.com News  3/22/04

Move over 3G, here comes WiMAX
Just when European mobile operators are finally getting their costly third-generation (3G) networks up and running, semiconductor giant Intel is putting its formidable weight behind WiMAX, a powerful wireless technology that offers lightning fast wireless data communications over distances as far as 50 kilometers. Full story Reuters 3/19/04

Nigerian backhaul network improves
Harris Corporation has been awarded a US$24 million contract by MTN Nigeria to supply, design and implement Harris MegaStar 155 radios for MTN's backhaul GSM network. The new Harris radios provide MTN with higher network capacity and a lower cost alternative to existing satellite links.  Full story  allAfrica.com  3/9/04

   
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