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!

Verizon history: Bell Atlantic takes over Nynex
NEW YORK-The U.S. Department of Justice Antitrust Division gave its approval April 24 for Bell Atlantic Corp.’s $23 billion takeover of Nynex Corp. The Federal Communications Commission also must grant its approval before the companies can close the merger. “The (Antitrust) Division has decided that it will not challenge the transaction, having concluded that the merger does not violate the antitrust laws,” the Department of Justice said. The proposed acquisition, announced in April 1996, would create a new company called Bell Atlantic, headquartered in New York. The combined company would serve 39 million telephone access lines and nearly 5 million wireless customers, at least 80 percent of which are in 13 Eastern Seaboard states and the District of Columbia, with the remainder in various countries around the world. The new Bell Atlantic will own 100 percent of Bell Atlantic Nynex Mobile, which will continue to be headquartered in Bedminster, N.J., and 50 percent of PrimeCo Personal Communications L.P., which will retain its Dallas headquarters. PrimeCo is a partnership among Bell Atlantic/Nynex, U S West Inc. and AirTouch Communications Inc. AirTouch is expected to gain control of U S West’s ownership in PrimeCo by the end of the year. … Ivan Seidenberg, chief executive officer of Nynex, said, “The merger … will promote customer choice, innovation and economic growth in the communities we serve … We intend to be our customers’ first choice for communications and information services.” … Read more

AT&T premieres prepaid service in Texas
SAN ANTONIO-AT&T Wireless Services Inc. launched its FlexCall prepaid wireless service in eight counties in the greater San Antonio area. Counties included in the launch are Atacosa, Bexar, Comal, Gillespie, Guadalupe, Kendall, Median and Wilson. Customers may initiate FlexCall for about $75 on an account opened with cash or a major credit card.

Alabama phone companies get into wireless
A C-block enterprise created by two Alabama telephone companies is methodically slipping into position to rival big-name wireless players in the Gulf Coast area. The telephone companies believe if they are going to lose landline customers to wireless offerings, they want to lose business to a company they own. DigiPH (pronounced Digif) is the creation of Millry Telephone Co. and Gulf Telephone Co. It holds personal communications services C-block licenses for eight contiguous basic trading areas in Florida, Alabama and Mississippi. DigiPH recently signed an equipment contract with Siemens Stromberg-Carlson for Global System for Mobile communications network systems valued at $74.9 million. Siemens is providing financing, although the companies won’t say how much. Network construction is scheduled to begin this summer, and service should be available in all basic trading areas by the end of the year. “The population in these markets is concentrated along the coast, beaches and interstate highway,” said Edd Williams, DigiPH president and chief executive officer. “We’ll only have to cover 15 percent of the geographic area to cover 80 percent of the pops, so at launch date, we’ll have covered the area we’re required to cover,” Williams said. … Read more

McCaw family increases Nextel stake
MCLEAN, Va.-The McCaw family announced Monday an early commitment to exercise its option to acquire $232.5 million in Nextel common stock. The family also has agreed to provide Nextel with $50 million in senior secured financing so Nextel can meet commitments with its equipment vendor, Motorola Inc. In addition, Nextel released first-quarter results that indicate the company added 122,600 digital subscribers between Jan. 1 and March 31. The McCaw family intends to exercise its option to acquire 15 million shares of Nextel common stock on July 28, at an exercise price of $15.50 per share. The McCaw family also purchased, for $25 million, options to acquire up to 25 million shares expiring in July 1998 for a total exercise price of $420 million in new equity. With the new announcements, the potential investment by the McCaw family in Nextel stands at about $1.6 billion. McLean, Va.-based Nextel said it now has 422,900 digital units in service across the country. The increase, Nextel said, is a “70 percent jump over last year’s fourth quarter results when 72,300 subscribers were added.” … Read more

Qualcomm reaps benefits of mobile handset demand
NEW YORK-With production of handsets now hitting the current 300,000 capacity mark during some weeks, Qualcomm Inc. announced second-quarter earnings and revenues April 21 that showed dramatic growth, while gross profit margins declined. Qualcomm, headquartered in San Diego, reported revenues of $586 million during the fiscal 1997 second quarter, ended March 30. This was nearly quadruple the $149 million in revenues for the same period one year earlier and 50 percent higher than revenues during the first quarter of fiscal 1997. Net income for the second quarter increased to $16.7 million, or 23 cents per share, compared with $1.5 million, or 2 cents per share, for the second-quarter 1996. Of total revenues, those derived from Qualcomm’s communication systems accounted for the vast majority, $508 million, and represented an increase of $404 million compared with the second quarter of fiscal 1996. Qualcomm attributed this revenue growth largely to the significant increase in sales of Code Division Multiple Access handsets and ASICs, as well as its recognition this past quarter of all revenue related to infrastructure equipment installed in major markets of the growing Sprint PCS CDMA network earned between August and March 30. Sprint PCS was Qualcomm’s first personal communications services contract, said Tony Thornley, chief financial officer. “The C-block area (of PCS) has started somewhat slowly, but we hope it will pick up,” said Irwin Jacobs, chief executive officer. “We understand market conditions and are watching them closely.” … Read more

Wireless prices lower where PCS competes
Wireless pricing in competitive markets with at least one personal communications services operator on average is 18 percent lower than in markets with no PCS competitors, reported the Yankee Group. More than 40 markets in North America have three broadband wireless voice providers and 10 markets have four service providers, said the Boston-based firm. Among 30 U.S. markets studied-some with no PCS competitors and others with one or two PCS competitors-PCS pricing is on average 10 percent to 15 percent lower than cellular pricing. Cellular carriers in markets where PCS is operating have accelerated migration to digital services and in some cases are dropping prices. PCS operators are not offering low monthly access fees (less than $15) with high per-minute rates (more than 75 cents), as have many cellular operators for their low use customers. Instead, PCS operators are aiming to keep average revenue per unit high, reported the Yankee Group. The most aggressive PCS pricing plans guarantee APRU of at least $40 and are not competitively priced at usage levels below 100 minutes per month. In those 30 U.S. markets studied, the bundled price per minute for 100 minutes of use ranged from 35 cents to 71 cents. … Read more

Investors get paging jitters
NEW YORK-Paging, a veteran wireless player, has to go back to the trenches and prove itself anew to the investment community. The “credibility gap” has three components, Sharon Armbrust, senior analyst for Paul Kagan Associates Inc., Carmel, Calif., said last week-technology, operations and finance. In the technology arena, there has been a once bitten, twice shy sentiment among investors since late 1995 when the launch of SkyTel 2-Way messaging service by Mobile Telecommunication Technologies Corp. “didn’t meet expectations,” she said. “The skittishness of the market about VoiceNow, almost before (Paging Network Inc.’s) VoiceNow (voice paging) was out of the box, is indicative of the fear of (paging’s) dependence on future services and technologies.” On the operations side, investors were given pause by MobileMedia Corp.’s bankruptcy filing, which revealed that “consolidations can cost more and posed more problems” than anticipated. With respect to financial considerations, there is concern looking forward that, despite subscriber growth rates, revenues and cash flow per subscriber will continue to decline. “Is all the bad news out?” Armbrust asked paging and investment banking executives at a Kagan Seminars Inc. conference on Wireless Telecom Values and Finance. … Read more

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

The post #TBT: Bell Atlantic buys Nynex; PCS competition lowers prices; Wall Street gets paging jitters … this week in 1997 appeared first on RCR Wireless News.


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