#TBT: Paging consolidation in hyperdrive; AT&T plays its first wireless card; Sprint focuses on PCS … this week in 1995

Editor’s Note: RCR Wireless News goes all in for “Throwback Thursdays,” tapping into our archives to resuscitate the top headlines from the past. Fire up the time machine, put on the sepia-tinted shades, set the date for #TBT and enjoy the memories!

MobileMedia acquires Dial Page

Vigorous consolidation in the U.S. paging industry continues as MobileMedia Corp. closes its $188.5 million purchase of the paging and messaging business of South Carolina-based Dial Page Inc. The rest of the Greenville company will be merged into Nextel Communications Inc. Nextel has an agreement to purchase Dial Page’s dispatch subsidiary, Dial Call Communications Inc., a deal which may be consummated by year’s end. Earlier this year, Dial Page stated concerns that consolidation in the paging industry was creating fierce competition that could require Dial Page to acquire more capital and join forces with one or more other substantial paging providers. MobileMedia made the offer to Dial Page in February, Dial Page shareholders voted in favor of the sale in June and the necessary consent from note holders has been received, MobileMedia said. MobileMedia is acquiring Dial Page’s assets and liabilities and made a tender for 85 million outstanding senior Dial Page notes. The Ridgefield Park, N.J., company is making the transaction through its wholly owned subsidiary, MobileMedia DP Communications Inc. The deal is scheduled to be completed by the end of the month. “We’re the second largest paging company in the industry, we have the economies of scale and we have a nationwide narrowband PCS (personal communications service) license. We are in a position to do this,” said MobileMedia Treasurer Kevin Shea. … Read more

PageNet buys Celpage

DALLAS-Paging Network Inc. expects to gain 8,000 paging subscribers through a $7.5 million cash purchase of Celpage Inc., as specified in definitive agreements between the companies. PageNet completed acquisitions of ComTech Inc., SNET Paging Inc., PageAmerica Group Inc. and PageFlorida earlier this year and expects to complete the purchase of International Paging Corp. soon, the company reported. PageNet Chief Financial Officer Barry Fromberg noted that aside from acquisitions this year and those which formed PageNet in the early 1980s, all the company’s growth has been generated internally.  … Read more

Network USA snaps up Page East

NASHVILLE, Tenn.-Network USA Paging Corp. signed a letter of intent to buy Page East Inc. of North Carolina for $10.9 million. The agreement includes the right to acquire the paging assets of Coastal Carolina Communications Inc. Together, the two companies would contribute 18,500 paging and voice mail customers. The final acquisition price is subject to upward adjustment and will be based on Page East and Coastal Carolina Communications’ 1995 cash flows. Nashville, Tenn.-based A+ Communications Inc. signed a definitive merger agreement with Network USA of Pensacola, Fla., in June. The deal, pending shareholder and regulatory approvals, is expected to be completed later this year. … REad more

California ends cellular price regulation; AirTouch lowers rates

Noting the Federal Communications Commission recently ended state regulation of cellular service rates in California, AirTouch Cellular Communications Inc. announced lower prices and new service plans in its Los Angeles market. The carrier reduced the price of its After Hours Plan to around $30 per month compared with a previous price of about $35 per month. AirTouch also announced several new service plans, including a program that offers a 50 percent airtime use discount to customers who call or receive direct calls from another AirTouch mobile phone. That offer runs through Nov. 10. … Read more

AT&T plays its first wireless card

Editor’s note: AT&T acquired McCaw Cellular in 1994, its entry into the cellular market.

AT&T Corp. took another giant step into wireless competition with the confidence of an experienced player holding a royal flush-primed with a fat distribution channel, a database brimming with customer contacts and the ability to dominate the market from which it has been banned for a dozen years. AT&T announced plans to begin offering cellular and paging discounts to long-distance customers in some markets beginning Sept. 18. “We’re just playing our first card,” said Alex Mandl, AT&T executive vice president and chief executive officer of the company’s Communications Services Group, its long-distance arm. “We’ve just begun to demonstrate the promise and potential of a combined McCaw-AT&T. I think it’s fair to say that nobody can match the depth and breadth of our resources,” Mandl said. The campaign will offer a $1, “ready-to-go” AT&T 3810 12-ounce analog cellular phone and the first 30 minutes of airtime for a $29.99 monthly fee in many markets. People who choose AT&T for their cellular and home-long distance service can receive a 25 percent discount on all AT&T cellular long-distance calls, “pending tariff effectiveness.” Consumers can receive some free evening and weekend airtime for three months. Businesses can receive either an AT&T 3810 cellular analog phone or an AT&T 6650 digital phone with a travel pack including battery saver, spare battery and charger. … Read more

AT&T eyes European cellular market and getting in on GSM

AT&T Network Systems Inc. said it intends to buy some of Philips Electronics’ assets in a deal that would grant AT&T access to Global System for Mobile communications-based cellular equipment, and therefore provide the company a gateway to European and other markets. Specifically, the two companies have signed a memorandum of understanding for AT&T to acquire a portion of public network assets held by four units within Philips’ Communications System division-Cellular Infrastructure Systems, Managed Transport Networks, Transmission and Microwave Transmission and Access. Financial details have not been disclosed. The businesses under consideration include activities of subsidiaries Philips Kommunikations Industrie of Nuremberg, Germany, and Telecommunications Radioelectriques et Telephoniques of Paris. Philips’ European operations resources include manufacturing sites in both Germany and France and more than 3,000 employees. Without the Philips deal, AT&T risks being precluded from a fast-growing cellular market in Germany. AT&T also needs Philips, or another third party, to provide infrastructure that will supplement AT&T’s GSM projects in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Malaysia, contracts collectively worth about $1 billion, AT&T said. … Read more

Sprint becomes Sprint PCS, prepping for a ‘pocket-phone revolution’

As major service providers work to gain position for the coming pocket-phone revolution, Sprint Corp. is letting loose of its cellular holdings in order to concentrate on its personal communications services licenses. Sprint has announced it intends to pursue a tax-free spinoff of its cellular unit to Sprint shareholders. Sprint Cellular is the nation’s eighth largest cellular operator, with 1.2 million customers in 87 markets in 14 states. “Through a spinoff, both the cellular unit and the Sprint Telecommunications Venture can pursue their own growth strategies, and develop separate marketing identities and technological infrastructures,” said William Esrey, Sprint’s chairman and chief executive officer. Spinning off successful cellular operations is not a new idea. AirTouch Communications Inc. was spun off from its parent, Pacific Telesis Group, in order to create shareholder value and to let the wireless operations of AirTouch operate outside the restrictions put on the regional Bell operating companies. Phasing out the Sprint brand name from the new, spinoff company means Sprint will focus on one wireless branded product, PCS. The Sprint-cable TV consortium-comprised of Tele-Communications Inc., Cox Communications Inc. and Comcast Corp.-won PCS licenses to offer fully digital, high-end wireless services in 29 markets nationwide. Although Sprint Cellular is testing Code Division Multiple Access technology, the majority of its network is analog-based. The decision to phase out Sprint’s cellular name “is a differentiation of product for the long term,” said analyst John Ledahl of San Jose, Calif.-based Dataquest Inc. … Read more

Apple urges unlicensed, high-speed data use at 5 GHz

Groups battling for unlicensed spectrum at 5 GHz to create a high-speed data system agree there is industry support for such a service, but the details now are in the hands of the Federal Communications Commission. Apple Computer Inc. petitioned the FCC in May to create an unlicensed “NII Band” of 300 megahertz at 5150 MHz to 5200 MHz and 5725 MHz to 5875 MHz. Apple says unlicensed service can serve individual, niche needs on a non-preclusive basis, unlike “centralized” licensed operators who determine service offerings based on aggregate demand. The Apple proposal draws its name from the Clinton administration’s National Information Infrastructure initiative, which encourages the private sector to upgrade the country’s telecommunications and information infrastructure. Services now operating at unlicensed 5725 MHz to 5875 MHz include spread spectrum devices, industrial, scientific and medical applications, microwave landing systems and proposed mobile satellite service uplinks. … Read more

Check out the RCR Wireless News Archives for more stories from the past.

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