Nortel to Cut More Jobs
By Monica Alleven
Nortel says it will cut an additional 3,200 positions worldwide, on top of the previously announced 1,800 cuts.
The company expects to make the reductions over the next several months.
“There is nothing more difficult than notifying employees, and Nortel is extremely conscious of the personal financial burden this will cause affected employees and their families,” said Mike Zafirovski, Nortel president and CEO, in a statement. “But with the unprecedented economic environment and resultant impacts on revenues, significant changes are required to regain our financial footing. Tough decisions are being made to restructure the company and work towards a successful emergence from creditor protection.”
Nortel’s board also approved management’s recommendation to not pay any bonuses under its incentive plan for 2008.
Nortel filed for bankruptcy protection last month, when it also announced it would exit the mobile WiMAX business, ending a venture it had with Alvarion.
Report: Mobile Internet Search Use Climbs 14%
By Maisie Ramsay
Mobile use of Internet search engines grew 14 percent between 2007 and 2008, according to a survey conducted by research firm ABI Research.
The company reported that 70 percent of respondents who used their handsets to access online information used Internet search engines in 2008. The jump in mobile search use is nearly double that of respondents who said they accessed mobile Web sites generally.
“The mobile Web and mobile e-mail continues to be a driver, and search is really the first example of that,” says Jeff Orr, senior analyst at ABI Research.
The survey indicates some changes in the popularity of online content accessed through handsets. News, game and music downloads and video downloads all increased in popularity. A significantly lower percentage reported downloading a ringtone compared to 2007, with respondents’ interest in location information, social networking and sports staying steady.
“A significant percentage of respondents say they use their handset for mobile e-mail and Web access, reflecting the broader access to inexpensive or all-you-can-eat mobile data services in the U.S.,” Orr says.
The surveys were conducted in November 2007 and December 2008, and sampled over 1,000 mobile phone users in the United States between the ages of 14 and 59. Respondents were asked a range of questions about their mobile e-mail and Web usage.
FCC Proposes Fines Over CPNI Non-Compliance
By Wireless Week Staff
The FCC’s Enforcement Bureau is putting telecom carriers on notice that they need to comply with the Customer Proprietary Network Information (CPNI) rules or face stiff fines.
The bureau this week is releasing notices of apparent liability against multiple carriers that filed non-compliant annual CPNI certificates.
“The broad nature of this enforcement action hopefully will ensure substantial compliance with our CPNI rules going forward as the commission continues to make consumer privacy protection a top priority,” acting Chairman Michael Copps said in a statement.
In the case of the more than 600 carriers that failed to file a CPNI certification, notices include a proposed fine of $20,000 while cases involving the submission of non-compliant CPNI certifications have a range of fines up to $10,000. The FCC says carriers will have a chance to demonstrate that the proposed fines are inapplicable or that there are reasons to reduce the penalty due to an inability to pay.
Crown Castle 4Q Loss Narrows
By The Associated Press
HOUSTON (AP) — Cell phone tower operator Crown Castle International said Tuesday that it posted a narrower loss in the fourth quarter as site rental revenue rose, but its results widely missed Wall Street expectations.
Crown Castle shares fell $1.06, or 6.3 percent, in after-hours trading, after finishing regular trading up 90 cents, or 5.7 percent, at $16.80.
For the quarter that ended Dec. 31, Crown Castle reported a loss of $69 million, or 24 cents per share, compared with a loss of $85.4 million, or 30 cents, in the year-ago quarter.
The company’s revenue rose more than 4 percent to $392 million. Site rental, which makes up the vast majority of its revenue, rose 5 percent to $355 million.
The company said that tower leasing demand has stayed strong, because of demand for voice and 3G data services and the move from landline to wireless services.
Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected a smaller loss of 4 cents per share on $385.4 million in revenue.
The company also reported a $32.2 million impairment charge related to a drop in the value of its investment in FiberTower.
For the full year, Crown Castle reported a loss of $69.7 million, or 25 cents per share, compared with a loss of $243.6 million, or 87 cents per share, in 2007. The company’s revenue rose 10 percent to $1.53 billion.
Looking forward, Crown Castle expects to report a loss of 14 cents per share or a profit as great as 6 cents per share in the first quarter. For the full year, the company predicted it will break even on a per-share basis or report a loss of up to 51 cents per share.
Analysts are expecting a first-quarter loss of 4 cents per share and a full-year loss of 8 cents per share.
ChaCha Dances With Google SMS
By Luke Simpson
The mobile answer service ChaCha is competing with Google SMS one year after being launched. With 3.5 million unique mobile customers in 2008, ChaCha ranks No. 7 in total text message traffic among all U.S. SMS services.
The Nielsen Company’s Q4 2008 Mobile Messaging Report found that ChaCha achieved 70 percent of Google’s SMS search volume for the period. ChaCha also has seen success with advertisers. Last year, Palm, McDonald’s, the Obama Campaign and H&R Block jumped on board with SMS mobile ad campaigns.
ChaCha users relay their questions to live operators via a call or text message. The operator then finds the answer and sends it back free of charge. The service allows users without Web access to retrieve information on the go.
Similar services such as Texperts have seen some broad success in the U.K., but the human element of the service presents some problems, according to David MacQueen, an analyst with Strategy Analytics. “These services rely on humans to give smart answers. There have been incidents in the U.K. where individuals have given cheeky or mildly-offensive answers.”
Twitter and Facebook also ranked in the top 10 SMS services.
ZumoDrive Release Puts Cloud in User’s Pocket
By Andrew Berg
Following a private beta trial of its service, ZumoDrive became available to the public today. ZumoDrive’s “Supersize Me” iPhone application appears on the Apple App Store today as well.
The company touts its patented Hybrid Cloud Technology that expands on existing cloud services that sync user’s information to the cloud. Zumodrive differs from that approach in that it seamlessly integrates with a user’s OS and creates a local drive that can be accessed from anywhere at anytime.
The team behind ZumoDrive built the service to address a frustrating problem that each of them faced personally; that is, their digital content kept growing, while they relied more and more on ultra-portable, capacity-constrained devices.
“I tend to carry around just a smartphone and a netbook,” says David Zhao, co-founder and CEO of Zecter, the company that built ZumoDrive. “Now, I get the convenience of these lightweight devices without any compromises, as ZumoDrive lets me easily put all my content on them.”
Users can use Supersize Me, along with the underlying ZumoDrive service, to access all their music, photos and documents on their phones whether they have Wi-Fi, 3G or EDGE connectivity.
ZumoDrive hopes to distinguish itself from its competitors – Apple’s MyMobile and Soonr, to name a couple – by ease-of-use and higher access speeds due to its deep system integration and local drive. ZumoDrive offers an iTunes interface as well, so that users can carry their entire library with them at all times.
The primary ZumoDrive service is available for download on PCs and Macs. The service is free for up to 1 GB of space and paid plans are available with more storage for a monthly subscription fee starting at $2.99.
Smartphones Connect Kids in Schools
By Monica Alleven
Ever think of using a smartphone to improve the math skills of high school students? It’s something inventor and Qualcomm co-founder and Chairman Irwin Jacobs has not only thought about but championed through his work.
Jacobs was among industry leaders who attended the Wireless Foundation’s Mobile Learning Conference 2009 in Washington, D.C., last week to discuss the future of educational technology and the role cellular can play in helping kids in the classroom.
Last school year, Qualcomm sponsored Project K-Nect, which involved 89 at-risk 9th and 10th grade students in four schools in North Carolina. Each student received an HTC PPC 6800 Windows Mobile device running on EV-DO 0 and A networks. Project K-Nect also used Soti’s MobiControl Mobile Device Management Suite to make sure devices were used within school rules.
Jacobs said social networking turned out to be one of the more useful outcomes of the pilot project as students could contact one another at odd times and not have to wait when they got stuck on a problem.
For one school, the project demonstrated a 100 percent passing rate, and students spent more time on algebra as a result of the smartphones.
There’s always a question whether the extra attention students receive lead them to perform better, and more needs to be studied, but Jacobs said the results are promising and there’s a desire to expand the programs. This year, the program includes geometry as well as algebra classes. “We’re still in the early days at this,” he said.
Jacobs himself didn’t need a smartphone when he was a student growing up, but he might have hoped for a different high school guidance counselor. His counselor told him there was no future in science or engineering, and for a while, Jacobs went to school for hotel administration before eventually going on to become a professor of electrical engineering at MIT.
UIEvolution “Cells” a Car
By Monica Alleven
You might think this is a bad time to be taking your business to car companies. But UIEvolution says it’s not only engaging with automakers, it’s going to launch its technology with one automaker this summer.
Stephen Fishburn, vice president of Connected Devices at UIEvolution, says he’s been working with the auto industry for several years, and the current application is moving faster than any previous project.
That could be in part because UIEvolution offers competitors an application that competes with something Ford is already doing through Sync and Microsoft. UIEvolution’s connected car application uses a cell phone as a remote control, so drivers can unlock their car doors or find their car in a crowded parking lot without having to call someone at OnStar or some other service that offers live help. UIEvolution calls it “celling” a car.
Typically, drivers are required to push a button in the vehicle or make a phone call, spending 10-12 minutes on the phone with someone on a call that costs $5 or $6. Instead, UIEvolution has devised a system whereby the driver can serve themselves. “Think of a car as a $40,000 cell phone on wheels with a big battery,” Fishbur says.
Most vehicles have a GPS device on board, and for cars that don’t, consumers can buy and install after-market devices, he says. Currently, UIEvolution’s solution works with an iPhone or BlackBerry. The system can also tell drivers when it’s time to increase tire pressure for better safety and mileage.
The company will be showing a demo, in conjunction with OnStar and GM, in the E-Tech area at CTIA’s April trade show in Las Vegas, where attendees will be able to use a mobile device to lock or unlock the doors or trigger the horn on a Chevrolet Aveo. The company has a demo unit now in Detroit, but it isn’t giving out the URL as it has heard complaints from people about the horn honking when it’s being tested remotely.
FirstNews Briefs for Feb. 25, 2009
Companies in the news: Sprint, Frost & Sullivan, China Mobile, China Unicom, Nokia Siemens Networks, AT&T, Pantech, Towerstream, Proxim Wireless, ICx Technologies
• Sprint announced today that Frost & Sullivan has awarded the company the 2008 Award for Market Leadership in the Consumer LBS Market for its approach to developing GPS applications for mobile phones. The award is based on Sprint’s variety of consumer GPS applications and its recent announcement that it will offer developers open access to two location aggregation platforms.
• China Mobile and China Unicom signed agreements to purchase 2G and 3G mobile equipments and services from Nokia Siemens Networks during 2009. Under the framework agreements, Nokia Siemens Networks will roll out WCDMA networks for China Unicom in 11 provinces across China. In addition, it will provide China Mobile with TD-SCDMA and GSM networks.
• The Pantech BreEZe C520 starts reaching AT&T stores this week in a new black finish. The latest version sports a black exterior and a silver and black interior. In addition to the Breeze’s large keys, camera and bright display, key features include: 1-2-3 Quick-Call Keys, simplified menus and large font. The device is currently available at select AT&T company-owned stores and online; it sells for $29.99 after a two-year service agreement and mail-in rebate.
• WiMAX service provider Towerstream reports it has reached EBITDA profitability in its Los Angeles market.
• Proxim Wireless announced that the California Department of Transportation (CALTRANS) and California Highway Patrol (CHP) are using technology from Proxim Wireless and ICx Technologies for a system designed to reduce the frequency and severity of car crashes caused by fog and extreme weather. The “Fog Pilot” project is a fog and reduced-speed warning system that will help protect motorists along a 12-mile stretch of freeway along State Route 99 in California’s Central Valley.
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