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Wireless 2005: 4 Shows In One

3/11/2005 12:50:00 PM Eastern

New Orleans – Wireless-industry marketers might’ve felt a little disoriented this morning when they entered CTIA’s Wireless 2005 show here. They might have wondered whether they accidentally stumbled into the Consumer Electronics Show, the Photo Marketing Association Show, a National Association of Broadcasters event, or the Adult Entertainment Expo.

Here at Wireless 2005, exhibitors are demonstrating wireless streaming audio services, MP3 playback, mobile TV services, and broadband-quality web browsing and downloading. They’re talking more about megapixels and frame rates and less about talk time and memory locations. Larry Flynt Publications is showing off its Hustler Mobile wireless-entertainment service.

The faces in the crowds are changing as much as the technologies and presentations. New handset suppliers turning up to exhibit for the first time include BenQ, Futurewei, Haier, and Group Sense. All hail from China.

New services on display include a streaming stereo-music service from Mobzilla of La Jolla, Calif., and DVB-H (Digital Video Broadcasting-Handheld), a technology that optimizes existing TV programming for transmission to handheld devices, including future cellphones. To demonstrate the service, Nokia is teaming up with Pittsburgh-based Crown Castle, which is upgrading its national network of communications towers to broadcast DVB-H programs over the nationwide 700MHz spectrum that it owns. Technical trials underway in Pittsburgh will be expanded this year to other markets.

Other suppliers are demonstrating high-speed cellular-data technologies that widen the wireless pipe to handsets to deliver ever-richer content. Ericsson, for instance, is demonstrating a variety of high-speed cellular-data technologies to deliver voice, Internet and TV to handsets. Ericsson’s infrastructure demonstrations include W-CDMA and HSDPA (High Speed Downlink Packet Access) Phase II, a W-CDMA advancement that accelerates peak download speeds to 14Mbps from 2Mbps.

Here’s an up-to-the-minute look at what attendees found this morning:

FireflyMobile: The Chicago company is demonstrating the five-button Firefly phone, explicitly designed for 8- to 12-year-olds and parents concerned about unrestricted mobile phone use and monthly costs. Parents use a PIN to program up to 22 outgoing numbers into the 2-ounce phone, including speed-dial keys for Mom and Dad. The phone can also be programmed to receive calls only from select phone numbers. A 911 emergency button with accidental call protection connects the phone directly to police.

The voice-only 850/1900MHz GSM phone is shaped to fit a kid’s hand and lights up like a firefly when in use and intermittently in standby mode. Kids can choose ring tones, animation and background colors.

The Firefly phone is available through carrier SunCom and will be offered through Cincinnati Bell in mid-month. In May, the phone will be available nationwide at www.fireflymobile.com for $99.95, including 30-minutes of Firefly Mobile pre-paid airtime. In July, Firefly phones with a Firefly branded, pay-as-you-go/pre-paid calling plan will be available nationwide through Target stores.

Depending upon the retail outlet, pay-as-you-go/pre-paid and/or contract calling plans are available.

Group Sense PDA Limited: The Hong Kong company is entering the North American market with three smartphones based on Palm’s new Garnet OS. Garnet is a Palm OS5 upgrade said to target entry-level and mainstream users. The phones are 850/1800/1900MHz GSM/GPRS 10 models equipped with 1.3-megapixel camera, MP3 player, and MPEG-4 video playback. Two phones accept SD/MMC cards, and one accepts TransFlash.

Kyocera: The new KX5 is a CDMA 1x slider phone that combines 1.3-megapixel camera/camcorder and MP3 player that decodes compressed-music files in the Windows Media Audio (WMA), MP3, AAC, and AAC+ formats. It accepts TransFlash memory cards up to 512MB to store music and pictures. It’s due in the third quarter.

LG Mobile Phones: Three new phones include the LG8100 CDMA 1x EV-DO phone with MP3 playback, stereo speakers, 1.3-megapixel camera, Bluetooth, 3D graphics engine, and Mini-SD slot for storing music, images, and video.

The LG7200 CDMA 1x handset features push-to-talk, multiple instant-messaging applications, color screen, and integrated speakerphone.

Motorola: New phones on display include 2- and 3-megapixel cameraphones. They are the 2-megapixel A1010 and 3-megapixel E1120. Details were unavailable.

Also new: the dual-band GSM/GPRS V176, a mass-market-oriented clamshell due in the second half with speakerphone, instant messaging, MMS, and push-to-talk.

The EDGE-equipped V557 is a GSM 850/900/1800/1900MHz phone with VGA camera and Bluetooth. It’s the first handset with the company’s Screen3 personal portal service, which accesses customized information and entertainment.

The SLVRcam V280 is a GSM/GPRS 850/1800/1900MHz phone with push-to-talk, VGA camera, and Bluetooth.

Recently introduced phones on display include the 1.23-megapixel V635.

NEC: The a232 is an GPRS/EDGE-equipped GSM clamshell with VGA-camera and voice-enabled dialing and control. Carrier SunCom has begun offering it for $29 through April 30. The usual retail is $149, NEC said.

Nokia: The company is expanding its CDMA selection with three new models, and it’s showing a new triband GSM smartphone.

The smartphone is the 850/1800/1900MHz 6682, due in the second quarter with 1.3-megapixel camera, EDGE, Bluetooth, PictBridge connectivity, reduced-size MMC card, MP3/AAC music player, and included stereo headset. It uses the Symbian Series 60 OS. An optional Bluetooth QWERTY keyboard is available.

The CDMA trio includes the 1900MHz entry-level 2115i candybar at 3 ounces. It features built-in flashlight, voice dialing, voice commands, speakerphone, web browser, and optional color covers. It’s expected to be available in the second quarter. The step-up clamshell 3155, due in the third quarter, operates in CDMA 800/1900MHz and analog 800MHz networks. Dual screens include a 262K-color primary screen. Features include FM radio, voice dialing, voice commands, MP3 ringtones, and downloadable applications.

The 4.4-ounce 6155, due in the fourth quarter, also operates in CDMA 800/1900MHz and analog 800MHz networks. It features 1-megapixel camera, LED flash, 15fps video recording, dual color screens, 262K-color primary screen, FM radio, enhanced voice command and voice dialing, push-to-talk, downloadable applications, and streaming audio and video support.

Samsung: A smorgasbord of new phones includes the company’s first five CDMA 1x EV-DO phone for the U.S. market, including an EV-DO PDA-phone and an EV-DO smartphone. Also new: its first two U.S. phones with 2-megapixel cameras, multiple phones with speech-to-text conversion to simplify text messaging, and its second-generation CDMA 1x/GSM world phone, which adds GPRS.

The i730 EV-DO PDA-phone, based on Microsoft’s PocketPC Phone Edition OS, adds Bluetooth, built-in Wi-Fi, and QWERTY keyboard compared to its CDMA 1x predecessor. It’s due in the second quarter with stereo speakers and SD Card slot.

The EV-DO smartphone, based on the Windows Mobile Smartphone OS, is a clamshell phone with SD card slot. It’s due in the second quarter.

The a970, one of the company’s first two 2-megapixel cameraphones, also features EV-DO. The clamshell is due in the second quarter with stereo speakers and swivel screen.

The other 2-megapixel cameraphone, the CDMA 1x a800, is the company’s first phone with quarter-VGA screen resolution. The slider phone features TransFlash memory card, PictBridge printer compatibility, MP3 player, 3D gaming, video on demand support, and internal antenna. It’s due in April.

The a795 CDMA/GSM world phone, due in the second quarter, operates in U.S. 800/1900MHz CDMA 1x networks and in foreign GSM 800/1900MHz networks. The clamshell features dual color displays, including a 260K-color main display.

Another new phone with MP3 player is the GSM/EDGE 850/1800/1900MHz p777. It’s equipped with stereo headset, MPEG-4 video playback, and 1.3-megapixel camera. It’s already available through Cingular at $299.

Wherify: The company will demonstrate its latest Wherifone, due in the U.S. in the spring. The G550 GSM phone features enhanced-GPS technology to help parents locate the whereabouts of their children or elderly relatives. It also transmits location information to police dispatchers.

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