TMI and Motient merger receives FCC, Industry Canada approvalOttawa-based TMI Communications and Motient Corp., Reston VA, are one step closer to offering continent-wide satellite services under a single banner after regulatory authorities in both Canada and the United States approved their proposed merger announced earlier this year (RoW, Jan. 22/01). That nod is the first step in the company’s plan to offer a wide range of satellite and ancillary terrestrial services to every community in North America. The next stage will be to win support for a controversial terrestrial component to its network that would extend satellite coverage into major urban centres (RoW, Nov. 13/01). The company has applications before the Federal Communications Commission and Industry Canada. Regulatory approvals aside, the merged operation, Mobile Satellite Ventures, has sufficient cash to go forward with its plan, say company executives. In addition to incremental revenue gained from current operations of both TMI and Motient, the merged company has received more than US$100 million in financing over the past year. When the merger was first proposed, it received US$50 million from a variety of investors and, in October, the company received another US$55 million. More details. AirIQ purchases 50 per cent stake in U.S. telematics patentsAirIQ, Pickering ON, has acquired 50 per cent of a number of U.S. telematics patents for use in recovering lost or stolen vehicles for which the owners are in default of loan payments. Part ownership of these patents will enable the company to move forward with a plan to license its newly-acquired intellectual property to financial services firms. Details on which company AirIQ purchased the patents from, and how many patents were purchased, were unavailable at press time."As the value of telematics become increasingly apparent to financial services firms, we are confident that the licensing of our patents will represent a significant growth opportunity for AirIQ," the company’s VP business development Alain Laflamme said in a statement. According to figures from the U.S. Statistical Abstract for 1997, more than 1.25 million vehicles were repossessed and offered in auctions by financial institutions in the United States. AirIQ says the reality, however, is that there were substantially more that could not be recovered. "For financial services companies facing impaired vehicle loans, AirIQ’s location services provide greater assurance that vehicle assets are recovered quickly and cost-effectively," Don Simmonds, AirIQ’s president and CEO, said in a statement. More details. Canada’s healthcare industry calls for investment in broadbandCanadian telehealth advocates are calling on the federal government to invest in broadband deployment in keeping with last year’s commitment to bring access to all Canadian communities by 2004 – but that call may be falling on deaf ears. Dr. Robert Filler, director of telehealth at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto and president of the Canadian Society of Telehealth, says high-speed Internet access should be considered a budget priority. "Telehealth is too important to Canadians’ health to put on the back burner," he said in a statement. "Broadband infrastructure is essential to providing remote communities with greater access to medical specialists and increasing the services Telehealth can deliver. Without broadband, its reach and potential are severely restricted." The medical community currently relies on ISDN lines for teleconferencing between patients and heath care professionals. Greater access to high-speed facilities would provide an entirely new level of medical care to patients. It would also mean more consultations and health professional education. While an investment in broadband technology deployment by the federal government would likely enhance the quality of life of rural and remote Canadians, the writing has been on the wall for the broadband initiative for several months. As early as late September, rumours were circulating that the government’s broadband agenda would be shuffled to the bottom of the deck in light of an increasing need to spend on national security measures (RoW, Oct. 2/01). More details. Cell-Loc in talks to gain additional financing credit facilityDuring what must have been the shortest quarterly earnings conference call in recent history, Cell-Loc Inc. announced that it is awaiting the final terms and conditions of a credit facility prospectus. The location-based network provider said during the Nov. 30 call that the initial prospectus has been received and the company is waiting for the final document with all the relevant numbers in it. During the call, Cell-Loc’s legal representative talked about the prospectus, and said that since the company is waiting for the final version, it is currently in a quiet period and the pending approval won’t constitute a buy or sell of company stock. Sheldon Reid, executive VP corporate and business development, didn’t make any presentation relating to the company’s 2002Q1 results – the primary reason for the call – and simply asked if there were any questions. Since there were none, the conference call ended in apparent record time of less than five minutes. More details. Wireless gaming firm gets substantial cash infusion from major playersAirborne Entertainment Inc. has received more than $6 million in financing from a variety of investors including two of the wireless industry’s most significant players. Both Bell Mobility Investments (BMI), the venture-financing arm of Bell Mobility, and Charles Sirois’ Telesystem Ltd. contributed parts of the total $6.3 million in funding. Companies from the entertainment industry and existing Airborne shareholders also participated in this round. "We consider it a major achievement to have completed this round of financing in such a challenging capital market," Airborne’s president and CEO, Garner Bornstein, said in a statement. "Now with substantial financial resources and committed strategic investors, we are well positioned to solidify our leadership position in the growing mobile entertainment space." BMI president Ted Maksimowski says there’s a huge upside to the wireless gaming segment. "The wireless entertainment sector represents significant potential for the industry," he said in a statement. "We are confident that Airborne’s focus on this high potential sector combined with an experienced and dynamic team is a recipe for success." More details. Wireless Multimedia Forum completes interoperability testingThe Wireless Multimedia Forum has completed a comprehensive six-month testing program of streaming audio and video over wireless networks using equipment from multiple vendors. The program was designed to evaluate interoperability of equipment in sending and receiving streaming content, and it confirmed that device manufacturers, mobile operators, content providers, and applications developers would all have access to interoperable products. With the completion of this round of testing, consumers are one step closer to being able to send and receive multimedia content over wireless networks built on a variety of vendor platforms, say Forum executives. "The successful completion of this comprehensive testing program validates almost two years’ work by the Wireless Multimedia Forum," the chair of the forum, Martin Hall, said in a statement. "We can now expect the first set of interoperable products to make their debut in the marketplace and enable content providers, network operators, service providers and business and personal consumers to take advantage of new streaming media content on their mobile, handheld devices." Testing stages: Encoding and decoding raw audio and video bit streams Encoding, distribution and playback of WMF-compliant MP4 files Parsing and decoding of streams packetized using the Real Time Protocol (RTP) Interactive testing of the Real Time Streaming Protocol/Session Description Protocol (RTSP/SDP) over the Internet. Live testing of complete WMF audio/video streaming systems with and without network error simulation Participants:Emblaze Systems – develops a product line ranging from wireless media platforms to MPEG-4 video ASIC semiconductors offering carrier class, scalable solutions that facilitate the deployment of complete commercial media services over any wireless network. Luxxon – a provider of adaptive multimedia products including the Mediator Platform that enables wireless operators to deliver multimedia services and the low power LUX2 rich media processor for wireless devices. Mobixell Networks – a provider of Rich-Media Service Center, a standard-based transcoding solution for wireless networks, which enables delivery of optimized multimedia content for a better user experience. PacketVideo – provides carrier-grade infrastructure software that enables the distribution of one- and two-way video, high-quality audio, animation and graphics over wireless networks to mobile devices. Serome Technology Inc. – provides solutions from media encoding and streaming to conversational multimedia services using SIP, for wireless as well as wired networks for telecommunication companies, device manufacturers, and content providers. More details. Bridging cellular networks and Bluetooth only a few months away: IXI MobileA recently formed U.S.-based company will unveil a new slate of software reference designs, which can be used to create a whole series of new devices and a personal mobile gateway (PMG) that will help bridge the gap between wireless communications standards such as GPRS and Bluetooth. If the company’s pedigree is any indication, this new product could be a grand slam when it is introduced next February. IXI Mobile was founded by Amit Haller, Gideon Barak, and Ziv Haparnas. At its official launch, the company also revealed terms of a US$12.5 million infusion of cash from lead investors Draper Fisher Jurvetson ePlanet Ventures and Gemini Funds. Gemini also provided the company with seed financing. "There is enormous opportunity in the wireless industry to bring new economies of scale to carriers and manufacturers, while improving wireless communications for all," Colin Watts, Draper Fisher Jurvetson ePlanet Ventures principal, said in a statement. "With a solid management team and a powerful solution, IXI is poised to create a paradigm shift in the wireless industry." The PMG is a new mobile device that bridges cellular networks such as GPRS and personal area networks created using Bluetooth, for example. The device will provide a seamless link to end-users devices including phones, laptops, SMS-enable watches and more, the company wrote in a news release. More details.