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Telecom News & Information

Thursday, December 16 2004

Sprint-Nextel deal leaves four major wireless services in U.S.

Sprint unveiled a $35 billion deal Wednesday to buy Nextel Communications - just weeks after Cingular Wireless swallowed up AT&T Wireless - a transaction that would leave only four major wireless phone carriers in the country. Full Story

FCC relaxes rules regarding Regional Bells access pricing for rivals

Telephone executives and industry analysts predicted a sharp rise in local phone rates over the next year after a bitterly divided FCC voted Wednesday to relax rules that had required the four large Bell telephone companies to give their rivals access to their networks at sharply discounted wholesale prices. Full Story

Wednesday, December 15 2004

FCC set to consider in-flight cell phones

Air travel, already a less-than-pleasant experience, soon may become a whole lot worse. If the FCC determines that technological issues can be adequately addressed, and if a separate study by the Federal Aviation Administration finds that cell phones don't affect aircraft safety, it's likely that passengers will be allowed to jabber away during flights within the next few years. Full Story

Wednesday, November 10 2004

Internet phone victory - FCC says firms not subject to state regulations, taxes

Federal regulators sent a powerful message Tuesday to California and other states to leave the fledgling Internet telephone industry alone for now. Full Story

Monday, November 01 2004

Customers await effects of merger between Cingular and AT&T Wireless

AT&T used a mix of different technologies, called TDMA and GSM, to zap phone calls through the airwaves. But analysts doubt Cingular will spend much money maintaining or upgrading the TDMA wireless network, because it wants customers to switch to GSM, which is generally considered more advanced than TDMA. Full Story

Tuesday, October 26 2004

FCC approves Cingular's merger with AT&T

The $41 billion deal, which gained Justice Department approval on Monday, would create the largest U.S. cell phone company with 47 million customers nationwide. Full Story

Tuesday, September 28 2004

PalmSource pursuing smart-phone niche

PalmSource Inc., which makes operating systems for handheld computers, will introduce today its first product designed specifically for smart phones. Full Story

Thursday, September 09 2004

Cell phone tower rules may loosen up

Federal regulators are set to approve a watershed pact that would eliminate roadblocks to the construction of many cellphone towers across the USA, improving coverage for millions of subscribers. Full Story

Friday, August 06 2004

FCC favors police surveillance of internet phone calls

Internet phone calls should be subject to the same type of law enforcement surveillance as cell and landline phones, federal regulators said Wednesday. Full Story

Friday, July 23 2004

AT&T to Stop Marketing Residential Phone Services to Consumers

AT&T Corp., which was founded by Alexander Graham Bell and dominated the nation's telephone business for generations, said Thursday it plans to stop marketing traditional phone service to residential customers. Full Story

Thursday, July 22 2004

Qwest wants fewer rules

Qwest Communications wants regulation of its retail services lifted throughout Colorado, a move that would eliminate state oversight of residential and business telephone rates, many features and customer service. Full Story

Monday, July 19 2004

In-flight cell phones 'worked great' in test

Cell phone company Qualcomm (QCOM) has teamed with American Airlines (AMR) to develop satellite-based air-to-ground cellular service. Several smaller companies are working on rival systems. In-flight cell service could be introduced within two years and become commonplace within four, developers believe. Last week, American and Qualcomm officials circled over West Texas in a jetliner making calls from their cell phones. Full Story

Thursday, July 15 2004

Boeing switching to Internet telephony

The Boeing Co. has decided to hang up its traditional phones and instead use Internet technology for communications worldwide. Full Story

PG&E announces trial run of broadband internet through power lines

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Michael Powell attended a demonstration of the technology. He has said broadband over power line technology makes it "theoretically possible to reach every power outlet in America with a broadband connection." The FCC is under pressure to substantially increase the number of U.S. homes that have broadband, which now stands at about 29.2 million. Full Story

Thursday, July 08 2004

FCC approves Nextel's shift of airwaves

The Federal Communications Commission plan calls for Reston, Va.-based Nextel Communications to acquire a band of spectrum worth $4.8 billion. In exchange, Nextel will give up its current spectrum and pay to reconfigure the airwaves it currently occupies in order to ensure public service communications systems are free of interference. Full Story

Tuesday, July 06 2004

IRS eyes Net phone taxes

A "temporary" tax created to pay for the Spanish-American War may result in higher fees for Internet telephone calls. In a notice published Friday, the IRS and Treasury Department said they are considering whether an existing 3 percent federal excise tax on phone calls should be reinterpreted "to reflect changes in technology" used in "telephonic or telephonic quality communications." Full Story

Thursday, June 24 2004

FCC media ownership rule changes tossed out on appeal

The ruling by the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia tossed out rules that would have allowed companies to own more television and radio stations in a single market. The court also left intact an order it made in September blocking the rules, announced in June 2003, from taking effect. Full Story

AT&T to cut back in seven states

AT&T Corp. said Wednesday it will stop selling traditional local and long-distance residential service in seven states, blaming its move on a court decision that it says will result in higher prices for its use of regional networks. Full Story

Wednesday, June 23 2004

SBC upgrade to carry TV, faster Internet

SBC Communications, California's largest telephone company, says it will spend as much as $6 billion over the next five years to soup up its aging telephone network to deliver television and faster Internet services to millions of customers. By snaking fiber-optic cables deeper into neighborhoods, SBC plans to join an elite group of companies offering consumers a coveted media triple- play -- telephone, Internet and television service. Full Story

Monday, June 14 2004

Think before you text message

Texters beware. Like e-mail and Internet instant messages, text messages tend to be saved on servers. "One of the false assumptions that people make is that when they hit the delete button, messages are gone forever, but nothing can be further from the truth," said Jeff Kagan, an independent telecommunications analyst in Atlanta. Full Story

Supreme Court Won't Save Phone Competition Rules

The decision means that government rules intended to make local phone service more competitive will expire on Tuesday. The rules had been thrown out by an appeals court, and the Bush administration decided not to ask the Supreme Court to review that decision. Full Story

Friday, June 11 2004

Administrative law judge rules SBC DSL policy unlawful

An SBC Communications Inc. policy that prevents its customers from switching their local phone service while keeping their SBC high-speed Internet connection has been ruled unlawful by a state regulatory judge. Full Story

Thursday, June 10 2004

FCC won't appeal ruling on phone competition rules

The Federal Communications Commission will not appeal a court ruling that vacated the agency's phone competition regulations requiring regional carriers to share their networks with competitors at deep discounts. Full Story

Phone rates could rise on Bush administration decision

The Bush administration's decision not to challenge a court ruling on wholesale telephone rates could hamper competition and make phone calls more expensive. It could even force some companies to quit the residential market. Full Story

VoIP All Smiles on FCC's Line-Sharing Move

"It's very encouraging that the [Federal Communications Commission] believes VoIP will provide sufficient competition to the [Baby Bells] that the old regulatory form is no longer required," said Dan Hoffman, president and CEO of M5, a provider of VoIP business service. "In a way, it's a great vote of support for the rapidly growing VoIP industry." Full Story

Supreme Court asked to keep phone competition rules in place

The Supreme Court was asked Thursday to temporarily block an appeals court decision that struck down phone competition regulations requiring regional carriers to share their networks with competitors at deep discounts. Full Story

Verizon testifies against Oracle takeover of PeopleSoft

In a strong endorsement of the government's effort to block Oracle's hostile bid for PeopleSoft, a Verizon executive testified Wednesday that the cell phone giant would probably take a big hit if the merger were to occur. Full Story

Wednesday, June 09 2004

8X8 Calls Level 3 for VoIP Expansion

Voice over Internet Protocol provider 8x8 (Quote, Chart) is expanding its Packet 8 telephony service to 300 new markets, thanks to an agreement with network operator Level 3 Communications. Among the new cities are Flagstaff Ariz., Beverly Hills, Bloomington, Ill., and Rockaway, N.J. Full Story

Tuesday, June 08 2004

Consumer group sues cell phone companies for locking handsets

The Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights filed suit accusing AT&T Wireless Services Inc., T-Mobile USA Inc. and Cingular Wireless, of using software in their handsets that prevents them from being used on a competitors' network. Full Story

Saturday, June 05 2004

Consumers hate cell phone firms

Your cell phone company knows you hate it. Mobile phone service was the second-lowest ranked industry - beating only cable providers among the 40 rated - in the University of Michigan's newest customer satisfaction index. And there's more: mobile companies were the No. 2 sector in complaints last year to Better Business Bureaus, dropping from first place in 2002. Only auto dealers did worse. Full Story

Friday, June 04 2004

British Telecom Launches Consumer VoIP Service

British Telecom's (BT) recent quiet launch of Broadband Voice, a consumer voice-over-IP service, offers a second-line voice package, including unlimited calling in the United Kingdom on evenings and weekends, but the service, at this point, falls short of the feature-rich low- cost offerings by consumer services, such as Vonage. Full Story

SBC board member a big investor in MCI

SBC board member Carlos Slim is also one of the largest investors in rival MCI -- a situation that Wall Street analysts and experts in business ethics say represents a clear conflict of interest. Full Story

Tuesday, June 01 2004

Qwest And MCI Reach Access-Fee Deal

The first big break in the ongoing battle between local telephone monopolies and long-distance providers over access-fee charges came after marathon negotiations resulted in long-distance provider MCI and local telephone service provider Qwest reaching a commercial agreement on the charges. Full Story

United States and Mexico reach agreement aimed at lowering long distance rates between the two countries

Mexico and the United States have settled a dispute over long distance rates, an agreement that is expected to save consumers millions of dollars in calls between the two countries, both governments announced Tuesday. Full Story

Friday, May 28 2004

Regulatory rulings could impede growth of VoIP

“It’s unfortunate if the states attempt to assert jurisdiction over VoIP services,” says Randolph May, a senior fellow at the Progress and Freedom Foundation in Washington, DC. “It may slow the introduction of the new technology.” Full Story

Combo Wi-Fi, Cell Phone Coming Soon

Handset will make voice calls over both cellular and 802.11a networks. Full Story

Thursday, May 27 2004

Comcast to offer VoIP phone service

Comcast will offer Voice over IP telephone service to its customers in 2005 after testing in U.S. markets this year, Comcast spokesman Robert Smith said. Full Story

Cell service resellers take off at a gallop

Wireless resale is not new. MCI resold service until the business imploded in 2002 amid billing and customer service problems. TracFone, a unit of Mexican giant American Movil, is the biggest reseller, amassing 3 million prepaid wireless customers since 1996. But 2004 "is becoming a breakout year" for resellers, says Adam Guy of research firm Compete. As mobile subscriber growth slows, traditional carriers want to boost revenue by merging or by tapping market niches that have resisted the lure of cell phones. Those include teens, seniors and low-income users.
Full Story

Wednesday, May 26 2004

Stratellite service to challenge ADSL

A trio of former telecommunications executives hopes to offer high-speed wireless broadband via low-orbit 'stratellites' to Australian companies as early as next year. Rather than orbiting in deep space, the blimp-like stratellites hover in a fixed position around 21 kilometres above the earth and provide voice and date services to a defined region via on-board telecommunications equipment. Full Story

Tuesday, May 25 2004

SBC Communications reaches deal with CWA

SBC Communications Inc. and a union representing 100,000 employees in 13 states reached a tentative agreement just minutes before workers ended a four-day strike at 12:01 this morning. Full Story

Deutsche Telekom buys California, Nevada mobile networks from Cingular

The agreement announced Tuesday would unwind a joint venture established in 2001, under which Deutsche Telekom's T-Mobile USA customers phoned over the Cingular network in California and Nevada and Cingular's customers used the T-Mobile USA network in New York. Full Story

Friday, May 21 2004

Cell phone directory to be published later this year

The directory is expected to include about 75 percent of the nation's 163 million mobile numbers. From those numbers, it would be easy to deduce the addresses of phones that receive e-mail because, in most cases, the number is the user name part of the e-mail address. Full Story

Thursday, May 20 2004

4 day nationwide strike against SBC could cause disruption in phone service

The Communications Workers of America union, which represents more than 100,000 SBC employees in 13 states, said workers will walk off the job at 12:01 a.m. Friday morning and won't return until 12:01 Tuesday morning. In a blistering e-mail to union members, the CWA said bargainers returned from Tuesday's negotiating session "angry that SBC continues to show disrespect for its employees." SBC said no further talks are scheduled. Full Story

Friday, May 14 2004

Next up, Wi-Fi phones

How about this for a monthly wireless telephone bill: nothing. Futurists and technologists think wireless fidelity technology -- the emerging standard for wireless e-mail and Internet access -- someday might supplant cellular phones as the primary form of mobile, voice communications. Full Story

Sunday, May 09 2004

Iraqi probed in rigging of cell-phone pacts

"The winners of the Iraqi cellular tender were Saddam's most senior financiers, their Egyptian, Kuwaiti and Iraqi supporters, the bank BNP Paribas, European cellular corporations, particularly Alcatel and the European GMS technology it depends on, and Chinese telecom interests, such as Huawei, which had been active in breaking the Iraqi embargo," said a defense official. Full Story

Friday, April 30 2004

Union authorizes strike against SBC

The Communications Workers of America, which represents 100,000 SBC Communications workers, edged another step closer Thursday to a walkout at the telephone provider if negotiators cannot agree on a new labor contract. On the eve of the company's annual meeting today in Columbus, Ohio, union leaders said that at elections around the country, 90 percent of CWA members voted in favor of authorizing a strike as early as May 8. Full Story

Monday, April 05 2004

Skype not yet up to all the hype

Users of the popular file-sharing program Kazaa are used to getting things for free, be it music or movies. Now the same guys behind that technology are offering a service with something else for free: long-distance calls. Full Story

Monday, March 29 2004

Vonage to offer portable Wi-Fi phones

With the phone, Vonage subscribers can make and receive phone calls within range of Wi-Fi wireless access points normally found in homes, airports, cafes, fast food restaurants and other high-trafficked areas, Executive Vice President Michael Trembolet said. The phone could also work inside any home outfitted with Wi-Fi networks, he said. Vonage also will begin selling its $35-a-month unlimited local and long-distance services to broadband-enabled homes in the United Kingdom, Mexico City, Switzerland and some Pacific Rim territories later this year, he said.
Full Story

Sunday, March 28 2004

Wi-Fi connections spreading so rapidly, you may never be out of touch

Widespread, untethered Internet access is no longer a dream. People can stumble upon free and commercial Wi-Fi "hot spots" in hotels, airports, bookstores, coffeehouses, college campuses, convention centers, marinas, pubs, ski resorts, shopping malls, truck stops, doctors' offices and fast-food joints. Full Story

Thursday, March 18 2004

Asiacell to roll out new services in Iraq

All three of the licensed GSM operators have commenced operations, and there has been talk of getting the Internet and related services on line at some date in the not too distant future. To give a perspective on the status quo, Gulf News speaks to Ahmad Haleem, board member of Asiacell, which is the GSM operator for the Northern Region of Iraq. Full Story

Wednesday, March 17 2004

Building GSM Network Operations in Iraq

There was no national mobile telephone network in Iraq prior to the resolution of the 2003 conflict, and in fact mobile telephony was specifically banned by the previous government. However, three GSM providers operated in the northern, Kurdish, areas of the country under the cover afforded by the Northern 'no fly zone'. The first and most extensive of these, established by Kurdish businessman Faruk Rasool, was the Asiacell network. Full Story

Sunday, March 07 2004

Atheer launches GSM services in Southern Iraq

Atheer Telecommunications, appointed by the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) as the GSM provider for the Southern region of Iraq, today launched its mobile services for consumers and businesses. Full Story

Thursday, March 04 2004

SBC Launches Quadruple Play with Satellite TV

SBC's residential service bundles now include a "quadruple play" or TV, wireless, broadband and local/long distance service on a single, monthly bill. Full Story

Wednesday, March 03 2004

Cincinnati firm to offer internet through power lines

A division of utility Cinergy Corp. plans to offer high-speed Internet service over its power lines, letting customers connect by simply plugging a computer modem into existing electrical outlets. Full Story

Tuesday, March 02 2004

A win for regional Bell firms

A federal appeals court handed a victory to the four large regional Bell telephone companies on Tuesday, striking down regulations that required the Bells to lease their local networks to rival companies at low prices set by state regulators. Full Story

Friday, February 27 2004

Will Naked DSL Chill the Cable Guys?

Naked DSL might be just the thing that kicks the broadband wars between phone and cable companies into high gear. The term refers to a high-speed digital subscriber line purchased without a corresponding analog local-phone line. To date, the Baby Bells have been loath to offer customers "naked" DSL. Full Story

Monday, February 23 2004

Internet phone fees spark FCC debate

AT&T cannot avoid paying hefty fees to local phone companies to connect long-distance calls by carrying big chunks of the calls on the Internet, the Federal Communications Commission is soon expected to rule. The decision is sparking a debate at the FCC about regulation of Internet phone calls. Full Story

Sunday, February 22 2004

Call centers bring West's wages and ways to India

Empowered by an ample paycheck, often from big U.S. companies such as American Express and America Online, some Indian workers are living lavishly on credit cards, and their open-mindedness is breaking conventions about dating. Full Story

Friday, February 20 2004

Big share bonuses for AT&T wireless executives

Despite a stock valuation that's still a fraction of its high nearly four years ago and a service record so poor that the Redmond cellular company recently lost more subscribers than any other cellular provider, executives at AT&T Wireless Services Inc. were given shares worth millions of dollars as performance bonuses last month. That award came a week before they moved to sell the company for a price that renders nearly all the employees' options worthless. Full Story

Friday, February 13 2004

Cingular and Vodafone vie for AT&T Wireless

Vodafone and Cingular are considered the only serious contenders for AT&T Wireless, which is 16-percent owned by Japan's NTT DoCoMo. Despite speculation of a possible Japanese counter-bid, top executives at the company met overnight and company sources said they were unlikely to bid. Full Story

FCC rewriting rules on internet access

Homes could start being connected to the Internet through electrical outlets, and consumers and business may find it easier to make cheaper telephone calls online under new rules that the Federal Communications Commission began preparing on Thursday. Full Story

Tuesday, February 10 2004

Microtel Inns & Suites Checks-in with Free Local, Long Distance Calls, Wireless High Speed Internet Access and More for Guests Nationwide

First Budget Chain to Offer Free Telecommunications Amenities, Online Check-In and -Out

Ever wished that you could check-in to a reasonably-priced hotel room and enjoy free local phone calls, free long distance calls to anywhere in the continental U.S., free wireless high speed Internet access, and more? Now, Microtel Inn & Suites -- the chain of all newly-constructed, interior corridor economy hotels -- will become the first budget brand to offer guests free local and long distance calls, and free wireless high speed Internet access in every room in all its hotels, along with advance online check-in and check-out. With unprecedented access to Microtel online folio data, guests can pre-register online and head straight to their guestrooms when they arrive, and also virtually avoid the check-out process. Read the press release

Monday, February 09 2004

At last, cell phone service connects in Baghdad

Denied many modern luxuries under Saddam Hussein, Baghdad's consumers welcomed the arrival of cell phone service over the weekend. But there were grumbles about the high fees charged by the city's new cell phone monopoly. Full Story

Monday, February 02 2004

Long-distance costs surge 55% in 4 years

The nation's largest long-distance carriers have raised their basic rates by an average of more than 55 percent during the past four years, socking consumers who haven't signed up for special calling plans, according to a report released today by Consumer Action, a San Francisco consumer watchdog group. Phone companies have also quietly raised the price of collect and calling cards. Full Story

Thursday, January 29 2004

Cingular plans to resubmit bid for AT&T Wireless

Cingular Wireless plans to resubmit its all-cash offer to buy AT&T Wireless, its initial overture derailed by a potential bidding war with at least three other potential suitors, a source familiar with the situation said Thursday. Full Story

Friday, January 23 2004

Free Wireless Everywhere

There's still a long way to go before ubiquitous free wireless becomes a reality in San Francisco. But at 25 gray boxes and counting, SFLan and BARWN are here today. And they're off to a good start, as the roughly 1,000 users who have already logged on to the network anonymously can attest. Full Story

Sunday, January 04 2004

AsiaCell signs License for Northern Iraq

Asia-Cell, the consortium lead by Kuwait’s Wataniya Telecom, Asia-Cell Telecommunications and United Gulf Bank of Bahrain, today announced the signing of its license for mobile operations in Northern Iraq. The licence, awarded by the Iraqi Ministry of Telecommunications on 7 October 2003, appoints Asia-Cell to provide GSM services to Iraq’s Northern region for the first year and to expand to the rest of Iraq in the second year. Initial services are already available in Sulaymaniya. Full Story