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!

Towers, environmental impact and aesthetics

The University of Vermont’s Law School Environmental Law Program recently held a conference called “Unplugged” dealing not with MTV, but with the wireless phone revolution-particularly the issue of antennas and their environmental impact. The organizers made an attempt to provide a wide range of views, but there was an underlying assumption that was hard to avoid: the correct environmental position was opposition to antennas and towers. Scientists, engineers, and government officials were there to talk about radio frequency emissions and safety levels. The point was made convincingly that wireless phone antennas operate at hundreds or thousands of times below safety limits and do not pose a health risk to the public. Some in the audience-which was open to the public-were prepared to listen. Some were not. Other speakers dealt with the environmental question of aesthetics. Their argument had a simple logic: towers are ugly and they don’t want to look at them. … Read more

Educating consumers on safe cell phone use

ELGIN, Ill.-The National Cellular Safetalk Center, a nonprofit wireless industry advocate, has introduced a car phone safety public education program. The new program is based on Safetalk’s successful high school driver education program sponsored by 11 carriers in 16 states and one Canadian province, Nova Scotia, said Safetalk. “The program allows wireless service providers to reach all new customers and their existing customers with information about how to use their wireless phones safely and for safety four times per year,” said Chrystal Clark, Safetalk’s director. “We decided that in addition to teaching new drivers about safety through our high school classroom program, we also needed to make it possible for the industry to kick off a continuing public safety education program. Using the carriers’ sales channels where customers purchase products and services and also through existing monthly billing programs, we can effectively teach the 34 million cellular users the importance of cellular responsibility.” The program includes an eight-page booklet and three seasonal bill inserts, all backed by safety facts. The four-color brochure, “The Guide to Responsible Cellular/Wireless Phone Use,” can be utilized as a handout in retail locations, or packaged with equipment for all new customers, said Safetalk. … Read more

‘We want to own the pocket,’ says Palm’s CTO

The clear leader in innovation as honored at the third annual Mobile Insights Mobility Awards dinner was Palm Computing Inc.’s Pilot organizer, a diminutive device that currently has no wireless access. Jeff Hawkins, Palm’s chief technical officer, was named industry Person of the Year for creating the Pilot, and the device itself won kudos in the Personal Digital Assistant, Remote Access Hardware and Product of the Year categories. The awards were voted on by a panel of judges that included industry analysts. The Pilot’s small form factor prevents the device from even accommodating a PC Card modem. Palm, a division of U.S. Robotics Corp., is working to integrate wireless communications capability into the 10-month-old product. Hawkins predicts such capability is at least a year off, however, as Palm is determined to further reduce the Pilot’s small form factor and retain its ease of use. “We want to own the pocket,” he said, adding, “The Pilot is the largest and heaviest product I will ever make.” … Read more

Dueling OSes make for industry debate on platforms, standards

LAGUNA NIGUEL, Calif.-Laissez-faire capitalists repeatedly faced off with supporters of de facto or government-mandated high-technology standards during last week’s Mobile Insights ’97 conference on mobile computing. The three-day meeting, held at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel here and hosted by industry consultant Gerry Purdy and his Mountain View, Calif.-based MobileInsights organization, brought together some 350 industry participants. Microsoft Corp. representatives took to the podium to expound on their mission of building industry momentum through commonality and collaboration by rallying manufacturers around the Windows CE platform. “We’re very troubled” by the Nokia 9000 Communicator, said Jon Magill, director of marketing for consumer appliances at Microsoft. The Communicator uses Geoworks GEOS operating system, one of many mobile product platforms that are serving to confuse the marketplace, Magill commented. On a panel one day later, Grover Righter, vice president of marketing at Geoworks, responded there is plenty of room for multiple platforms and the real key to industry success is creating suitable end-user applications. Yet Rhonda Dirvin, director of wireless market development at Motorola Corp., laid responsibility for the demise of Motorola’s Marco personal communicator on the dueling OS factor. … Read more

Early days of wireless apps

Since unveiling its MobileWeb Internet Web server/controller technology one year ago, CellPort Labs Inc. reports a diverse group of innovators are using the platform to develop wireless data applications. The Boulder, Colo.-based company developed MobileWeb from its patented wireless phone interface technology designed for hands-free car kits. Building on the company’s universal handset port and controller, MobileWeb can function as a computer server for an Internet Web site or vehicular local area network, CellPort said. “With MobileWeb, we’ve capitalized on the existing wireless infrastructure to connect vehicle-based devices, cellular, digital and other airlinks, and the Internet,” said CellPort President Pat Kennedy. “We provide the critical last three feet of connectivity to a total wireless data solution.” CellPort said a variety of companies are working with the MobileWeb application development kit. The Advanced Law Enforcement Response Technology (ALERT) project at the Texas Transportation Institute is using MobileWeb to integrate police vehicle communications and devices in public safety vehicles. … Read more

AT&T explores fixed wireless for home phone service

What began as a Craig McCaw idea became a definitive project for AT&T Wireless Services Inc. last week when the company announced plans to deploy a proprietary fixed wireless technology that could effectively cut into local home telephone service. The idea of bypassing the Bell companies via wireless technology isn’t new. Competitive access providers do it every day. And numerous wireless companies are planning similar fixed wireless systems, for which manufacturers have built equipment. What is compelling about this announcement is the likelihood this project will be financially endorsed by AT&T Wireless’ parent company, the nation’s heavyweight long-distance provider AT&T Corp. “AT&T Wireless has been known to have vision, but has lacked real financial commitment from AT&T Corp.” for emerging market endeavors, said Bob Egan, research director of the Gartner Group in Stamford, Conn. But this project could cut down on the access fees AT&T pays local phone companies. “It provides an expense reduction for the parent company, so AT&T Corp. will get behind this. It maps in well with the overall corporate piece,” Egan said. … Read more

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

The post #TBT: Palm Pilot wins product of the year award; Early days of wireless apps; Fixed wireless for home voice? … this week in 1997 appeared first on RCR Wireless News.

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