Weekly Wrap: All Quiet On the Mobile Front
By Carlo Longino, Fri Mar 28 07:30:00 GMT 2003

A low-key week in the wireless world...


Perhaps nursing a trade-show hangover, or perhaps attention is elsewhere in the world, but it's been a pretty quiet week in the wireless industry. No real major announcements, but some news to report.

Tang Ru'an, the COO of China's leading developer of the nascent TD-SCDMA 3G standard, said this week that China Mobile, the country's biggest carrier is likely to choose WCDMA for its 3G network. China Mobile, which has more than 70% of China's 200 million mobile subscribers, currently runs GSM networks, so Tang says it would be "logical" for the company to evolve to WCDMA.

Vodafone announced this week that it had signed up its millionth customer for its Live! mobile data service hitting sales targets. The company said that 65% of subscribers at its Japanese unit, J-Phone, have signed on to its Sha-mail photo service, which may have provided much of this inspiration for Live!. Vodafone also said it plans to have its UK 3G network up and running in time for this year's Christmas season.

T-Mobile's US unit joined the country's other two GSM carriers in dropping plans to use enhanced observed time difference (E-OTD) to implement an FCC mandate that carriers must be able to locate 911 emergency callers to within 50 meters. The carrier said it was concerned that without any additional customers for the technology, its vendor, Cambridge Positioning Systems, wouldn't be able to provide the necessary development and support. Other US carrier had previously said they were having difficulty getting the technology to provide data accurate enough to meet the mandate.

NTT DoCoMo released its latest gadgets, with the Wristomo phone/watch leading the way. The Wristomo is a waterproof watch whose wristband opens so it can be used as a typical handset, and the watch can also send and receive e-mail of up to 6,000 characters and surf certain Web and i-mode pages at 64kbps. DoCoMo also unveiled its first GPS phone, more than a year after rival KDDI launched GPS handsets and services.

From the "Let's Keep Things In Perspective" Dept.: With millions of Iraqis living in the confusion of war, and hundreds of thousands of American soldiers in and around the country, it's good to see that US congressman Darrell Issa can keep his attention focused on the most important issues. Like enacting legislation that would mandate US government entities construct only CDMA networks when they rebuild Iraq. Issa thinks that "from an investment standpoint, [it's] a bad decision" to let the royalties that building such a network would generate to go to European GSM patent holders as opposed to the American holders of CDMA patents. Issa, of course, represents the 49th District of California, which is quite near Qualcomm HQ in San Diego.