#TBT: Virgin Mobile comes to Canada; American Idol SMS voting expands; Bringing wireless email to the masses … this week in 2005

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!

Virgin Mobile set to launch in Canada
TORONTO-The Virgin Mobile Group is reportedly set to launch a mobile virtual network operator-based wireless service in Canada March 1 using Bell Canada’s CDMA network. The service is expected to be similar to Virgin’s MVNO launch in the United States using Sprint PCS’ network that since mid-2002 has signed up more than 3 million prepaid subscribers. … Read more

DoJ quizzes Sprint on Nextel buy
WASHINGTON-Sprint Corp. today confirmed it received a second request for information from the Justice Department on its proposed $36 billion acquisition of Nextel Communications Inc. It is not unusual for the Justice Department to seek additional data from companies in major mergers. “It would have been surprising if we didn’t get a second request,” said James Fisher, a spokesman for Sprint. Earlier this month, applications were filed with the Federal Communications Commission to transfer Nextel’s wireless licenses to Sprint PCS. However, the FCC has yet to put the applications on public notice. Once that occurs, the public and other interested parties can review the license reassignment applications and file comments on whether the transaction should be approved. Fisher said he expects the Sprint-Nextel deal to close in the third quarter. … Read more

Cingular joins SMS voting for American Idol
ATLANTA-This year’s “American Idol” text-message voting will likely surpass last year’s groundbreaking campaign, as Cingular Wireless L.L.C.’s 49 million subscribers can take part in the short message service offering for the first time. Last year’s marketing effort, which allowed AT&T Wireless Services Inc. subscribers to vote for their favorite crooner with their phones, generated 13.5 million text messages-up from 7.5 million messages in 2003, the campaign’s first year. The campaign was hailed as a turning point for U.S. operators looking for a catalyst to generate text-messaging revenues. With the merger between Cingular and AT&T Wireless completed last year, more than twice as many wireless users can participate in this year’s vote for the popular TV show. Cingular said it has also added features to this year’s vote, which began in February and will continue until the next winner is selected later this year. … Read more

NBA dabbles in wireless
DENVER-The National Basketball Association wants to be on the forefront of technology, be it the Internet, High-Definition TV or satellite radio. And to be on the cutting edge, the NBA also recognizes it needs a wireless presence. “It’s important … that the NBA be ahead in terms of technology,” said Brenda Spoonemore, the NBA’s senior vice president of interactive services. Spoonemore oversees the league’s Internet, wireless and customer relationship management database efforts. “We need to be there (in wireless).” The NBA represents a major opportunity for wireless, and the reverse is also true. For the NBA, wireless is a new way to touch and interact with fans. For wireless, the NBA offers a ready-made stable of content and a willing fan base. Indeed, the possibilities for NBA-branded content on mobile phones are extensive, and could employ all sorts of new wireless technologies. NBA fans could interact with live TV broadcasts through text messaging, access information on their favorite teams via a WAP page, and download game highlights to a video-capable phone. Interestingly, all of these applications are already available. “We’re looking at the portfolio of wireless,” Spoonemore said. “Our goal is ubiquity and convenience for our fans.” The NBA announced its “NBA Unwired” initiative in November. … Read more

Poking holes in the mobile pay-TV hype
BOSTON-The deafening buzz surrounding mobile TV may be unwarranted, according to a report from Strategy Analytics. In the new study, “Mobile TV: Hype not Justified by Demand!,” the consultancy argues that vendors rushing to bring broadcast services to market around the world may be overestimating wireless users’ demand for on-the-go video. Instead of investing in high-speed technologies specifically for mobile video broadcasts-like Qualcomm’s planned “MediaFlo” network or DVB-H-operators would be wise to test the mobile TV waters with infrastructures currently coming online. “Consumer demand for paid-for mobile TV remains highly uncertain, and we remain unconvinced that consumer appetite for mobile TV services exists outside of niche segments,” said Phil Taylor, director of the firm’s global wireless practice. … Read more

Broadening the reach of wireless email
After years of mostly futile efforts to exploit the largely untapped wireless e-mail market, wireless companies are thinking small. Instead of working to put high-tech devices in the hands of every road warrior and high-level executive, messaging companies are targeting consumers and low-end business users with affordable-if limited-mobile e-mail offerings. It’s no secret that uptake in the wireless e-mail space has disappointed, particularly among business types. Research in Motion Ltd. and its BlackBerry remain the brand of choice for today’s business wireless e-mail subscribers, claiming about two-thirds of the nation’s 3 million enterprise users. But a recent Yankee Group report estimates the potential market for U.S. wireless e-mail users in the enterprise is at least 35 million, dwarfing the number of BlackBerry holders today. Yet, given the inability to loosen RIM’s current stranglehold on high-powered executives who have taken the wireless e-mail plunge, it makes sense to target users further down the value chain. “There really is no successful, mass-market consumer (wireless) e-mail solution in place,” said Skuli Mogensen, chief executive of OZ. “RIM has done a very good job (targeting enterprise) with its BlackBerry; their entire offering is very attractive. But that’s far from a mass-market reach.” Primarily a mobile instant-messaging provider, OZ entered the wireless e-mail space two weeks ago with an offering that allows users to access branded e-mail from portals including AOL, MSN Hotmail, Yahoo! and others. … Read more

This is how we used to do a Google search on our phones, kids
MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif.-Google Inc. has rolled out a movie-search service for wireless subscribers, allowing users to access showtimes and theater locations and phone numbers via handsets. The offering expands on the Internet portal’s local short message service search service, which was launched late last year. Users can send queries such as “movie” and their ZIP codes to the short code 46645 (GOOGL) and receive local film information including genre, rating and a brief review. … Read more

Wi-Fi revenues surge
LONDON-The worldwide equipment business for Wi-Fi enjoyed traction last year in revenue and unit sales, according to a new report from Infonetics Research. Global revenue stood at $2.8 billion for 2004, a 15-percent jump from 2003. Unit sales leaped 51 percent from the previous year to 36.1 million. Infonetics expects unit shipments to continue to grow through 2008 when they will reach 80.4 million, 123-percent more than 2004. However, quarterly results were not so robust. Worldwide revenue dropped 21 percent to $619.4 million between the third quarter of 2004 and the fourth quarter of the same year, according to Infonetics. The firm attributed the drop to plummeting ASPs from fierce vendor competition. … Read more

Skype tests free chat-to-SMS service
LONDON-Skype is testing a free service that allows users to send text messages to any GSM handset, the Voice over Internet Protocol provider said Thursday. The new offering lets users send messages from Skype Chat to GSM subscribers via a gateway powered by Connectotel, a London-based software developer. Users initiate a chat with a Skype user dubbed “smsgateway,” then enter the message to be delivered to a phone. Earlier this year, Connectotel launched “SMS to Skype,” which delivers text messages from GSM phones to Skype users. … Read more

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

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