#TBT: Google plans a push in mobile; Handset locking and portability, oh my; Alltel acquired by PE … this week in 2007

Editor’s Note: RCR Wireless News uses Throwback Thursdays and draws on our archives to revive top headlines from the past. Start the time machine, put on those sepia shades, set the date for #TBT and enjoy the memories!

FCC wants faster number porting

The Federal Communications Commission called for an end to delays in porting phone numbers from one carrier to another, an action in response to complaints from some wireless carriers about the lengthy, bureaucratic process of porting landline numbers to wireless carriers. “I…support actions to streamline the process and time it takes to switch from fixed-line to mobile service, to give consumers the ability to switch carriers without undue burden or delay,” said FCC Chairman Kevin Martin. Local number port validation decided by the FCC for a simple number port should be limited to four fields, including the 10-digit phone number, the customer account number, the 5-digit zip code, and a passcode, if applicable. The agency also came to the tentative conclusion that simple ports should be completed within 48 hours. Delays in the transmission of local numbers are a competition problem for mobile operators. For a Democratic FCC member, the ruling suggests even more. … Continue reading

Sprint and Verizon settle handset lockdown and portability lawsuits

Here’s just one reason the wireless industry wants Congress to approve the expanded state pre-emption rights: Lawsuits galore in a California state court that have tangled national carriers and prompted some to settle. More than a dozen handset lockout and early termination charges cases were consolidated in California Superior Court, County of Alameda. Some of these cases are now coming to an end. Sprint Nextel Corp., the No. 3 mobile operator, reached a far-reaching settlement. “We believe the settlement is fair and reasonable,” said Matt Sullivan, a spokesman for Sprint Nextel. As part of the settlement, Sprint Nextel agreed to provide the phone lock code to consumers; Assisting customers with non-Sprint Nextel cell phones to activate them on Sprint’s network where possible and informing Sprint Nextel direct and indirect retailers of these policies. Additionally, Sprint Nextel agreed to offer these benefits nationwide, not just in California and Florida. Scott Bursor, lead counsel for the class in the AAA arbitration and co-lead counsel for the class in the California case, said Sprint Nextel’s settlement parallels a similar settlement with Verizon Wireless. “Both agreements will make it significantly easier for consumers to use their CDMA phones to subscribe to services on other CDMA operators’ networks,” Bursor said. “Taken together, these two settlements are tremendous victories for consumers and for free competition between wireless carriers.” However, Verizon Wireless has settled despite the #2 wireless carrier saying it doesn’t ban cellphones. … Continue reading

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Rumors about Google’s new mobile focus

According to reports, Google Inc. is about to make a big move into the wireless space. There has been much speculation about the search giant’s mobile plans, from branded devices to ad-supported minutes to open operating systems. However, according to an article in today’s Wall Street Journal, Google is poised to complete whatever it plans to do in this space within the next two weeks. It has set itself the ambitious goal of “making applications and services as accessible on mobile phones as they are on the Internet,” the newspaper reported. Google reportedly wants mobile network subscribers to have a wider choice of services on their phones. But on the way there, Google has to climb a mountain: carrier. The company is expected to announce its suite of advanced software and services that it hopes to persuade handset makers to release Google-powered devices by mid-2008, unnamed sources told The Wall Street Journal. The newspaper reported that the search giant had approached several US and foreign cellphone manufacturers about its plans. Google is also reportedly looking for partnerships with operators. … Continue reading

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Boingo buys Sprint Nextel airport Wi-Fi networks

Wi-Fi hotspot provider Boingo Wireless Inc. said it has installed Wi-Fi networks at seven Sprint Nextel Corp. airports. acquired. The terms of the transaction were not disclosed. The purchase includes a roaming component that will allow Sprint Nextel customers to access Boingo’s hotspot network. Sprint Nextel customers can use Boingo services at various airports as well as at more than 100,000 Boingo Wi-Fi locations worldwide.
Boingo charges $8 per day for 24 hours of Wi-Fi access and $22 per month for unlimited access to North American hotspots. Boingo’s new airports include Houston’s William P. Hobby and George Bush International Airports; Memphis International; Milwaukee General Mitchell International … Read more

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Acquisition of Alltel by Private Equity Groups Receives FCC Approval

The Federal Communications Commission cleared the $27.5 billion acquisition of Alltel Corp. by private equity firms TPG Capital LP and Goldman Sachs Group Inc., despite criticism from several members of connected universal services and improved emergency call conditions.
Atlantis Holdings LLC is the holding company of TPG Capital and Goldman Sachs. While the agency concluded that the transition would not affect competition in wireless services, it established specific requirements to address universal service and E-911 concerns. For this reason, the FCC imposed an interim cap on support for expensive, competitive telecom operators, which Alltel was granted based on 2007 levels, as a condition of approving the deal, although the agency has yet to draft a comprehensive universal service reform policy . But there is an escape clause for universal service: E-911 compliance and submission of certain data in support of universal service. “The condition imposed by today’s merger is even more fragmented than what the [Federal State] Joint Board recommended in May. I fear the condition will be an even greater obstacle to rational, comprehensive USF reform,” said Commissioner Michael Copps. “Also, I find it disappointing that the commission is imposing this condition while the joint committee is currently working hard to give the commission a recommendation for broader reform.” Fellow Democrat Jonathan Adelstein also criticized the drafting of the Alltel Atlantis restrictions – Deals. … Continue reading

For more stories from the past, visit the RCR Wireless News Archive.

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