By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
BEDMINSTER, N.J. —Verizon Wireless has expanded availability of two-way SMS (short messaging service) to more than 200 markets since the service's launch late last year. The remainder of the national carrier's markets will offer the service in the next several months, a spokesman said. Via SMS-enabled phones, subscribers can transmit short text messages up to 120 characters to any other Verizon subscriber within the same Verizon area. Verizon splits the country into seven areas. Nonetheless, a Verizon subscriber can send text messages to any e-mail address in the world, including any wireless phone with an IP address. Those phones could include digital phones operating on another carrier's network. Subscribers can also receive text messages sent from any e-mail address. Monthly service plans cost $2.99 and $7.99 a month for 100 and 600 messages (sent or received), respectively. Subscribers can also opt to pay a la carte: 10 cents per sent message or 2 cents per received message.
WASHINGTON, D.C. —The FCC auctions for unused 1.9GHz spectrum raised $16.9 billion for taxpayers, the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association (CTIA) said. The association also applauded the FCC's decision, sought by carriers, to delay 700MHz auctions until Sept. 12 from March 6. The delay will enable carriers to "assess their spectrum needs" following the 1.9GHz auctions. Verizon and companies backed by AT & T and Cingular accounted for almost four-fifths of the revenue raised in the auctions for 422 licenses in 195 markets. Other successful bidders were Salmon PCS and Leap Wireless. Pretty soon, some carriers could be bumping up against spectrum caps that limit their per market holdings to 45MHz in urban markets and 55MHz in rural markets, but the FCC has agreed to consider lifting the caps at the request of carriers—which fear they won't have enough spectrum to launch 3G services in some markets.
RESTON, VA. —Nextel has begun offering the industry's second iDEN/GSM phone, enabling Nextel subscribers to roam into GSM networks outside its U.S. iDEN network. The Motorola-made i2000plus, available at $199, also features a microbrowser to access the carrier's Nextel Wireless Web service. The first iDEN/GSM phone, the i2000, lacked browser. The 800MHz-iDEN/900MHz-GSM phone enables roaming in 75 countries. The phone weighs 5.9 ounces with a slim lithium battery that delivers 1.7 hours of talktime or 36 hours of standby time in iDEN mode and 2.3 hours/40 hours in GSM mode.
SCHAUMBURG, ILL. —Motorola has scrapped plans for late-2001 deliveries of a wireless-phone/PDA based on Psion's Epoc operating system, while saying it wants to simplify its product portfolio and cut costs. Motorola said it is still interested in developing Epoc-based phones as part of its involvement in Symbian, which is jointly owned by Psion, Motorola and other major phone makers. "Only one particular product is no longer on the road map," a spokeswoman said. Motorola said it's still targeting first-quarter 2002 to deliver its Palm-based phone, which will be a triband model operating on GSM networks in the United States and other countries. The company still hasn't determined whether the first-quarter 2002 launch will be worldwide or regional.
This TWICE webinar, hosted by senior editor Alan Wolf, will take a look at what may be the hottest CE products at retail that will be sold during the all-important fourth quarter. Top technologies, market strategies and industry trends will be discussed with industry analysts and executives.