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Motorola and Nokia File a $3-billion Lawsuit Against Telsim

Motorola and Nokia File a $3-billion Lawsuit Against Telsim

On a recent business trip to Istanbul, I arrived to wall-to-wall coverage of the Telsim controversy. Motorola and Nokia have filed a $3-billion lawsuit against Telsim, the second leading wireless provider in Turkey, alleging that Turkey's Uzan family borrowed all of that money with no intention of ever paying it back, in violation of the U.S. Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations statute. Telsim is currently denying these charges, and we'll be following the case at wbt2.com as it unfolds starting on February 11.

Heading back on the 11-hour flight to New York, I spent my time catching up on all of the latest wireless news. In the United States, recent months have brought some tough financial news for many of the nation's largest cellular carriers. In the fourth quarter of 2001, AT&T Wireless posted a net loss of $1.2 billion. Just a slightly larger drop in the bucket of their overall revenues, Verizon lost $2 billion.

Investors are worried about a major downturn in the market for new cell phone service, with analysts estimating the slowdown to have business down by approximately 50%. Determined to quiet worried investors, both AT&T and Verizon followed up their announcements of a financial loss with new services and partnerships ­ all designed to improve service and lure new customers.

Comparing U.S.statistics to those of the international cellular scene, we have a long way to go in terms of market penetration. Only 45% of the U.S. population owns cell phones, while most estimates have Europeans hovering at 75­80%. That leaves many potential customers in the U.S. needing to be convinced that they need a cell phone; and that equally important as needing one, that they can afford it. So, the big question to the major carriers ­ Sprint, Verizon, and AT&T ­ is, what will it take for them to double that 45% to 90% over the next two years? Each company has a different plan to get there, but they are all betting on the same thing ­ that now is the time to hop on the bandwagon because wireless is here to stay as a part of life.

In fact, AT&T isn't just betting on that fact; it's the central focus of their latest marketing campaign. Premiering during this year's Super Bowl, "mlife" promotes how ingrained cell phones have become in our lives. (A little side note is that this campaign almost didn't come to life due to a restraining order placed on them after a suit by MetLife claiming trademark infringement. At press time however, MetLife had lifted the restraining order, and the campaign was moving forward, starting with a series of television ads.)

But it's not only marketing that will get us there. Carriers are also adding several new services and plans to lure new customers, and to appease current clients. AT&T announced a partnership with Research in Motion to develop a combination device for the U.S. market. The new device will, for the first time, integrate the always-on capability of a BlackBerry with a cell phone. With 300,000+ current subscribers, the BlackBerry handheld is making a name for itself, but as Palm and others catch up with the technology, it's clear that they need to continue to evolve their service. A heavy BlackBerry user myself, I'll be one of the first in line to test a combo device if it can live up to functionality and ease-of-use expectations.

Verizon, on the other hand, has introduced a handful of new plans to go after more of the market. Marketed as "America's Choice," they are offering anytime, anywhere minutes in the United States. Starting at $35/month for 300 minutes, the new plans range up to $200/month for 3,000 minutes ­ the plan for the heaviest of travelers, or for those who are spending way too much time on the phone.

Along with the simpler rate structure, Verizon is also the first-to-market in the great race to 3G. The technical specs show that they are now offering data transfer speeds that range up to 144Kb. Most users will find the transfer to be more like 40­60Kb, but it is still a huge leap forward, making real data transfer possible.

So from Istanbul to New York to San Francisco, one thing is clear ­ the unwired world is continuing to heat up and WBT is here to provide you with the coverage you need so you won't get burned.

(See Yahoo Daily News)
(See Yahoo Business News)

More Stories By Robert Diamond

Robert Diamond is the founder and editor-in-chief of BroadwayWorld.com, the premiere theater site on the net now receiving over 100,000 unique visitors a day. He is also the owner of Wisdom Digital Media - a leading designer of entertainment and technology web sites. He is also the lead producer on BroadwayWorld.com's consistently sold-out Joe's Pub concert series, and Standing Ovations benefit concerts. Diamond was also named one of the "Top thirty magazine industry executives under the age of 30" by Folio magazine. Robert holds a BS degree in information management and technology from the School of Information Studies at Syracuse University. Visit his blog at www.robertdiamond.com.

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