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#TBT: Sing along to Sprint Radio; readying for MediaFLO; here comes 802.11n … this week in 2006 – RCR Wireless News

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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!

Tune in to Sprint Radio
OVERLAND PARK, Kan.—Sprint Nextel Corp. continues to pursue mobile music lovers with a new streaming multimedia service offering more than 50 channels of content. Sprint Radio features music, music videos, news, weather, sports and financial information from providers including NPR, ESPN and Radio Disney. The service is available for $6 a month and is available on the Sprint Media Player or via a downloadable Java application. Unlike many of the carrier’s content offerings, Sprint Radio is supported by some iDEN handsets as well as some CDMA2000 1x-equipped Sprint Nextel devices. Mobile multimedia firm mSpot is powering the service and is responsible for content production. Sprint Nextel used the launch to tout upgrades to its music store, as well. The full-track download service has been expanded to include expanded charts and categories and a recommendation feature based on past purchases. … Read more

When everybody had a mobile-specific content service
BURBANK, Calif.—Warner Music Group Corp. subsidiary Rhino Entertainment said it will provide music-based content for HBO Mobile. Rhino, which develops and promotes content from WMG’s catalog, plans to deliver ringtones and ring-back tones to support HBO’s mobile content services to Cingular Wireless L.L.C. subscribers. The service eventually will include full-track music downloads, Rhino said. “By combining WMG’s extensive music library and world-renowned artists with Rhino’s unique expertise at packaging and branding, we’re confident we can offer some interesting and complementary musical offerings … Read more

Mobile ESPN adds live college football games on its MVNO’s phones
BRISTOL, Conn.—Mobile ESPN L.L.C. reported plans to offer college football fans the chance to watch up to 25 live games each month during the season from their Mobile ESPN wireless phones. The mobile virtual network operator announced that it will offer live video from a line-up of games from ESPN and ESPN2, kicking off the offering with the Florida State vs. Miami game on Sept. 4 and continuing for the rest of the college football season. “The addition of live college games to our content represents a key milestone in the way we’re using innovative technology to serve sports fans,” said Manish Jha, Mobile ESPN’s senior vice president and general manager, in a company statement. In addition to the games themselves, ads shown during the games that have been cleared for use on the mobile platform will also be streamed to the phones; when ads are shown on TV that have not been cleared for mobile use, they will be replaced on the handset with ads for ESPN-branded services. Access to the games is available for subscribers who have Mobile ESPN’s Total Sports Package; the service costs $25 per month, but the first month is offered for free. The package includes all of Mobile ESPN’s sports content, alerts, wireless Internet access and text messaging. Mobile ESPN includes its basic Sports Package (with content such as game scores and other statistics) with any voice plan. The Total Sports Package plan charge is in addition to voice plan costs, which range from $40 monthly for 400 anytime minutes to $200 per month for 6,000 anytime minutes. … Read more

FLO, FLO, here we go
The FLO Forum said it approved a specification for its mobile TV network technology, a move that will allow equipment makers to build gear designed to work on any FLO-based network and enable operators to choose products from multiple vendors. Designed to broadcast multimedia content to portable devices, the forum pointed out that FLO technology enables wireless operators to deliver news, entertainment and informational programming in clips and streaming video to millions of mobile users without taxing their current networks. Backed largely by Qualcomm Inc., the forum explained that its Multiplex Subsystem-to-Transmit Station Interface, dubbed MTI, allows transmit stations from multiple vendors to be part of a single FLO broadcast network. However, transmit stations must be compliant with the MTI protocol to correctly broadcast a FLO waveform, the group said. Kamil Grajski, president of the FLO Forum, said the new specification puts the group closer to achieving its goal of creating an interoperable ecosystem for FLO-based products. The forum also noted that Verizon Wireless recently reiterated the carrier’s commitment to use the one-way transmission technology. … Read more

California seeks to require hands-free mobile use while driving
WASHINGTON—The California State Assembly passed legislation prohibiting driver use of handheld cell phones in the nation’s most populous state, likely paving the way for the bill’s passage by the legislature later today or tomorrow. The measure, authored by Sen. Joe Simitian (D) and pursued by the Palo Alto lawmaker repeatedly in recent years, passed the Assembly by a 44-25 margin. The Senate, which already passed the bill, is expected to vote again—this time on the Assembly’s amended version—shortly. GOP Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger appears favorably disposed toward the legislation, though he has not taken an official position on it. The Simitian bill would require drivers to use hands-free devices to make and receive wireless calls while behind the wheel. Violators, beginning Jan. 1, 2008, would face a $20 fine for a first offenses and a $50 ticket for subsequent infractions. Exceptions to the driver ban on handheld mobile phone operations were carved out for public safety-related calls and commercial truck drivers, including those in the farming business. Push-to-talk wireless communications would get a pass for three years from the bill’s 2008 effective date. The bill’s provisions do not impact existing laws that prohibit school-bus drivers and public transit vehicles from using cell phones on the road. If the bill becomes law, California would join New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and the District of Columbia and various towns in trying to take cell phones out of drivers’ hands. … Read more

OnStar turn-by-turn directions becomes standard feature for GM
DETROIT—A new driving-directions option from General Motors’ OnStar telematics service will be standard for one year on more than 2 million GM vehicles starting with the 2007 model year. After the first year, customers can renew the Turn-by-Turn Navigation service for $300 a year. The new price point falls between OnStar’s current options: an emergency services package for $200 a year and a complete package including emergency services, driving directions and information services for $400 annually. The Turn-by-Turn Navigation service will offer voice-guided directions and automatic route corrections, as well as access to a database of more than 10 million points of interest in the U.S. and Canada. The Turn-by-Turn service will be standard for one year on various models of GM vehicles, including nearly all Buicks and Cadillacs, according to the automobile manufacturer. … Read more

Here comes 802.11n!
AUSTIN, Texas—In a break from its tradition of certifying products only after a standard has been approved, the Wi-Fi Alliance says it plans to “pre-certify” the interoperability of pre-802.11n products in the first half of 2007, before the IEEE ratifies the standard, which is expected to happen sometime in 2008. Karen Hanley, senior marketing director at the Wi-Fi Alliance, explained that many of the alliance’s members are already shipping pre-802.11n products, and pressure has been building for the Wi-Fi Alliance to test and pre-certify products based on the draft specification, or the baseline fundamentals of 802.11n technology. Hanley said the move to pre-certify products meets the needs of both its members and consumers, for whom certification provides reassurance that pre-n products have been tested and can be expected to perform in line with the basic tenets of the 802.11n standard. “This two-phase approach balances our longstanding commitment to standards-based technology with the current market need for product interoperability certification,” said Frank Hanzlik, managing director of the Wi-Fi Alliance. “While we are committed to supporting a full 802.11n standard when it is available, pre-standard products are reaching a level of maturity and there is enough market uptake that a certification program makes sense for the industry.” The alliance said it expects certified pre-n products to be compatible with products certified to the full standard. … Read more

APCO looks at issues with VoIP 911 calls
WASHINGTON-The Association of Public-safety Communications Officials said it will examine challenges calling 911 using Voice over Internet Protocol and other advanced communications technologies as part of its Project Locate. Locate is an acronym for Locate Our Citizens At Times of Emergencies. APCO developed Project Locate to help spur deployment of wireless enhanced 911. Public-safety personnel cannot always find people calling 911 when they are calling using VoIP technology because the phone number connected to the caller may not be local. More than a year ago, the Federal Communications Commission required VoIP service providers to deploy enhanced 911 service, but the agency has not fined VoIP providers that have missed the November deadline. APCO hopes to improve the location information received by public-safety personnel. … Read more

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

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