Genachowski May Head FCC After Inauguration
By Evan Koblentz
Keeping his BlackBerry may be the most pressing telecommunications issue for President-Elect Barack Obama, but there’s also the detail of picking a new FCC chair.
Mainstream media reports this week point to the imminent appointment of long-time Obama friend Julius Genachowski to replace current Chairman Kevin Martin.
Genachowski met Obama at Harvard Law School, later became chief counsel to FCC Chairman Reed Hundt in the mid-1990s, worked at IAC/InterActiveCorp and then became a venture capitalist. In that role, he invested in or advised companies including Expedia, Hotels.com, Ticketmaster and The Motley Fool.
Genachowski is already an adviser to Obama’s transition team. The unknown detail for Obama naming him FCC chairman is the timing.
That probably won’t happen until after Obama’s inauguration Jan. 20, sources familiar with the plans said. Martin will step down and current Commissioner Michael Copps is expected to become interim chairman until Genachowski is confirmed by Congress.
The confirmation process should move quickly because Congress will have a Democratic majority. Genachowski could be on the job by spring. Consumer advocacy groups Free Press and Public Knowledge both issued statements today praising his expected nomination.
Meanwhile, the FCC itself remains focused on the digital television transition. Obama’s team supports delaying the Feb. 17 analog signal cut-off date, which concerns Martin because of the likelihood of public confusion. The prospect also concerns public safety groups because of their existing plans for certain spectrum bands.
A delay may also lead to minor setbacks for wireless carriers that need the to-be-vacated analog television spectrum for upcoming LTE networks. Verizon Wireless previously stated its intent to operate some level of LTE network by the end of this year, although that was disclosed before the delay of Verizon’s Alltel acquisition closing.
Sprint Nextel Phones Get Push-to-Locate
By Wireless Week Staff
Users of Sprint Nextel’s Direct Connect phones can now send their address, GPS coordinates and a map using the push-to-talk button.
Sprint said its latest feature is based on Pacific DataVision’s Locator technology. The companies previously worked together for time and date stamps. Location data can be attached to voice messages, officials explained.
“…Locator will allow mobile workers in industries such as transportation, utilities, field service and public safety to increase productivity by communicating their voice message along with their location to their home office or another worker without waiting for a call to be answered,” stated Danny Bowman, Nextel division president.
The service is available now for $19.99 per month in addition to customers’ regular calling plans.
Cisco Aims to Ease 802.11n Upgrade
By Brad Smith
In the current economy, businesses and organizations may be reluctant to upgrade their wireless LANs with the latest technology, 802.11n. Cisco thinks it has an answer to help, though.
Cisco announced its new 802.11n product, the Aironet 1140 series, along with technology it calls M-Drive to encourage businesses and organizations to make the move. The products already are in use by some of Cisco’s customers.
802.11n, also called Wireless-N, is in the Wi-Fi family of technologies but provides data rates of around 300 Mbps or even higher. It is backwards compatible with earlier Wi-Fi technologies. Cisco itself has shipped more than 175,000 Wireless-N access points with its earlier Aironet1250 series.
Cisco’s research has shown some resistance to upgrading WLANs because of concern over the total cost of ownership, because businesses think their IT employees lack the skills to make the upgrade, and because they’re not sure their Ethernet network is ready.
Chris Kozup, Cisco’s senior manager for mobility solutions, said the new Aironet 1140 series and M-Drive bring down the total costs, make it simpler for IT departments to manage their networks, and fit into the current infrastructure. M-Drive also improves the performance of existing 802.11a/g equipment, he said, with tests showing an increase of throughput for 11a/g devices up to 65%.
Cisco also backs up the promise with training and certification programs, migration services, financing and leasing through Cisco Capital, and trade-in credits for legacy equipment.
Veramark Adds Wireless to Telecom Expense App
By Evan Koblentz
Veramark Technologies today announced an update for its telecommunications expense management software, dubbed the VeraSmart 8.1 Communications Management Suite.
The upgrade focuses on presenting sometimes arcane telecommunications data in a user-friendly manner. A new portal feature can integrate with corporate intranets so a variety of employees can access relevant data, rather than just accountants and IT staffers.
Veramark plans to add pre-designed workflows, starting with a wireless procurement package. The company’s previous wireless endeavors were largely built through partnerships with other companies.
Another workflow for business intelligence will be released in March, officials said.
Additional new features include support for other currencies, customizable authentication tools, user-defined views, Windows clustering and automatic failover.
Version 8.1 will ship Jan. 19. Pricing was not announced.
Sonus Reaches Deal with Largest Investor
By Wireless Week Staff
Sonus Networks disclosed an agreement with 25% owner Legatum Capital today, in which Legatum will choose two new Sonus board members bur refrain from new proposals or official actions.
Legatum owns 65 million shares of Sonus, which cut 5% of its workforce last month and left open the prospect of future restructuring.
Sonus also said last month it will declassify its board. That will be accomplished by the 2011 annual meeting, officials said today. Also, the roles of chair and CEO will be separated, while a new committee is created to evaluate development and investment opportunities.
“Legatum is an important partner and investor with a clear commitment to our long-term vision and success. We have listened to their recommendations and are pleased to have reached an agreement that will benefit all our stakeholders. Both the board and management welcome the new perspectives and insights that the new directors will bring,” Sonus CEO Richard Nottenburg stated.
Officials could not be reached this morning for comment on who the new board members will be or when they’ll be announced.
BuzzCity Reports Growth in Mobile Ad Network
By Wireless Week Staff
BuzzCity released the BuzzCity Mobile Advertising Index for the fourth quarter of 2008, showing almost 50% growth in paid banner advertisements in the United States during the last three months of the year. The report represents inventory sold across the BuzzCity Mobile Advertising Network.
The company says the growth of the BuzzCity Mobile Advertising Network in the United States is an indicator of the resilience of mobile advertising in the face of the economic downturn, as well as the exponential growth in mobile Internet use among U.S. consumers during 2008. In total, 382 million paid advertising banners were served to a U.S. audience during the fourth quarter. For the entire year, banners served in the United States grew by 209%.
“The continued strong growth we’re seeing in the U.S. is not surprising, considering that this was a huge year for the discovery of the utility and usefulness of the mobile Internet in the market,” said KF Lai, CEO of BuzzCity, in a press release. “Despite a difficult economic environment, we foresee healthy growth in the U.S. continuing this year as increasing numbers of people discover the mobile Internet and as operators offer lower priced, flat-rate data plans.”
Globally, the company expects to see further growth in 2009 as advertisers focus more on accountability in their campaign execution.
BuzzCity also announced plans for a new office in Johannesburg to oversee the growing advertiser demand in South Africa.
Bluetooth SIG Announces CES Winners
By Wireless Week Staff
The Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) this week announced the winners of its best-of-CES contest.
Each year the Consumer Electronics Show fills Las Vegas with gadgets, and Bluetooth has been a major variable in those gadgets for the past several years.
The overall winner is Parrot’s Zikmu wireless speakers, officials said. Category winners are the LG HFB-500 solar-powered car kit, Microsoft Vista Feature Pack for Wireless, Samsung YP-P3 media player, LG Decoy mobile phone, Parrot Specchio digital photo frame and Nonin Medical Model 9560 Pulse Oximeter. The trade group said its winners were selected based on technical compliance, usability, appearance and documentation.
Another category, User’s Choice, will be announced this Friday. Votes can be placed at www.bluetooth.com/userschoice.
FirstNews Briefs for Jan. 13, 2008
Companies in the News: Transpera, msnbc.com, The Weather Channel, Tyfone, NXP
• Transpera announced partnerships with msnbc.com and The Weather Channel to host and deliver mobile video services and targeted mobile advertising.
• Tyfone, a global provider of mobile financial services infrastructure, completed the beta testing phase of its u4ia Secure Memory Card (SMC) technology for highly secure contactless mobile payments. Tyfone also announced joint system testing with its manufacturing partner NXP, the co-inventor of NFC technology and leading vendor of NFC chips.