By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Here's an update on what major carriers plan to do to offer Phase 2 service:
AT&T Wireless: In recently changing its TDMA-network plans, the 50-state carrier will begin in November to install the network-only Time Difference of Arrival (TDOA) solution in 1,600 cell sites, representing about 20 percent of the cell sites in its network. These sites are in parts of 12 states where public safety agencies have already requested Phase 2 service. The 12-state rollout will be completed by the end of 2002.
The carrier will install TDOA equipment in other TDMA cell sites when it receives public safety agency requests, the spokesman said.
For its planned GSM network, AT&T will roll out the hybrid EOTD solution, which requires ALI-capable handsets and a network upgrade. As each GSM market goes up, "EOTD will be in place," a spokesman said. AT&T plans to add GSM in 40 percent of its markets this year and throughout its entire footprint by the end of 2002.
AT&T expects EOTD-capable phones to be available by the end of the year.
Cingular: Like AT&T, the carrier recently decided to install the network-only TDOA solution in its TDMA markets. The carrier did not return calls at deadline to offer details or information on its GSM-market plans.
Nextel: The carrier plans an assisted-GPS hybrid solution but won't be able to offer location-capable handsets until Oct. 1, 2002, a year later than the FCC would like. By that time, the carrier also expects to have upgraded its nationwide network with assisted-GPS capability, enabling it to offer Phase 2 service to any agency requesting it, said government affairs VP Larry Krevor. About 50 agencies have already requested the service from Nextel, he added.
Nextel interprets the FCC's Oct. 1 hybrid-solution deadline more aggressively than the FCC's own wireless bureau. Under Nextel's interpretation, carriers planning a hybrid solution had to upgrade their entire network by Oct. 1 without waiting for a public agency request.
Sprint PCS: The carrier said it met part of the FCC's Oct. 1 mandate. The carrier, which adopted a hybrid solution, began selling an ALI-capable, assisted-GPS handset, the $149 Samsung SPH-N300, on that day in Rhode Island. It was to be in stores nationwide by mid-October.
In Rhode Island, the carrier will turn on Phase 2 service sometime in November, when it expects public safety agencies in the state to have installed their needed Phase 2 equipment.
The carrier is "moving as quickly as we can" to make its nationwide network Phase-2-ready, a spokeswoman said. "It could be a year," she added. Once the network equipment is installed, she said, the carrier will be able to meet agency requests expeditiously. Wireless carriers, she noted, must also work with landline carriers to pipe Phase 2 data to the agencies, she noted.
By the end of 2002, the carrier intends to meet the FCC mandate that all of its new handsets be ALI-capable, she said.
Verizon: Like Sprint, the carrier plans a hybrid GPS-based solution. Its first ALI-capable handset, a Samsung model, will be available nationwide in stores in December. The carrier intends to meet the year-end 2002 timetable for making all phones its sells ALI-capable.
A Verizon spokesman wasn't sure when it would begin installing hybrid-solution capability to its network.
As a backup for legacy handsets in the Chicago-Gary, Houston, and St. Louis markets, Verizon will launch a network-only solution that it has been testing.
VoiceStream: The carrier will miss select deadlines that it negotiated with the FCC as part of a waiver agreement, but it still plans to install a network-only solution that will back up a more accurate hybrid EOTD solution planned to follow.
The carrier is on or close to the waiver's target of implementing a network-only Network Safety Solution (NSS), which is accurate to 1,000 meters for 67 percent of calls from legacy handsets. The carrier will start deployment in the fourth quarter and offer widespread deployment in the first and second quarters of 2002, said Jim Nixon, director of government affairs. The carrier is working with public safety agencies to target deployment in markets where 911 agencies have installed the equipment needed to receive location data, he noted.
The carrier is also encountering delays in obtaining commercial EOTD network equipment and EOTD-equipped handsets for the hybrid solution, said Nixon. Commercial-grade network gear is expected to be available early next year, and once validation tests are complete, the equipment will be rolled out as quickly as possible in markets where public-safety agencies have requested it. Phones are expected to be available mid-2002.
Based on the 65 requests made by public safety groups, EOTD-capable networks should have been deployed in select markets as of Oct. 1, he noted.
As for EOTD handset availability, VoiceStream can't be as precise in its plans as it was in its original waiver application, Nixon noted. The original waiver stipulated that by Oct. 1, 2001, 50 percent of activated phones were to be EOTD-equipped with accuracy to 100 meters for 67 percent of calls and 300 meters for 95 percent. By March 31, 2002, all activated handsets were to be EOTD-capable, and after Oct. 1, 2003, VoiceStream was to improve EOTD accuracy to 50 meters for 67 percent of calls made by EOTD handsets and 150 meters for 95 percent of calls.
VoiceStream still plans to upgrade accuracy to 50 meters by Oct. 1, 2003, he said.
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