Satellite messaging beams with FCC nodA recent decision by...


September 06, 1993|By Steve Auerweck | Steve Auerweck,Staff Writer

Satellite messaging beams with FCC nod

A recent decision by the Federal Communications Commission has paved the way for Mobile Datacom Corp. of Clarksburg to begin offering its satellite-based messaging and positioning service.

The commission gave the company temporary authority to start its commercial service while its application for a blanket license is being processed.

According to Mobile Datacom marketing director Brent Taylor, the radiodetermination satellite service uses leased transponders on geosynchronous satellites to send and receive short messages and to pinpoint a remote unit's location. The technology was licensed from Geostar Corp., which went out of business in 1991.

A big advantage of the system, Mr. Taylor said, is that "all the expensive pieces are in a central ground station," in Clarksburg. Receivers might cost about $2,000, and they can use antennas that are from 6 inches to a foot in diameter.

Mr. Taylor described several possible applications:

* Units might be placed aboard airplanes traveling in remote areas, such as the Alaskan wilderness, to provide a location instantly in the event of trouble.

* Companies could install terminals on sales vehicles visiting out-of-the-way places, using them to verify credit cards.

* An oil company could mount sensors along a pipeline and transmit the data back via satellite.

The FCC decision lets the company run up to 10,000 mobile terminals; Mr. Taylor says the first ones should be working in October.

Smart phone system moves up in class

Faculty and students at the University of Maryland at College Park have made a number of new friends during the past few years -- Fred, Pamela, Little Suzie and Marvin, among others. Now the gang's ready to graduate into the wide world, but part of them will always remain at UM.

You see, the members of the gang are computer programs created on-campus for the school's AT&T Conversant voice information system. They've given the campus a "smart" telephone system bordering on genius -- it can track down phone cheats, help to define a word, or wake up dorm residents in the morning.

Now AT&T has licensed two parts of the "Connect" software suite for distribution with its systems. One is Fred, the Fraud Elimination Device, which can detect suspicious calling patterns and call the culprit with a warning or phone in a report to authorities. The other is Pamela, the People and Machine Electronic Locating Assistant, which provides quick access to individuals through on-line directories.

AT&T's non-exclusive license gives it the option to evaluate more than 40 other Connect packages, according to Wayne Swann, (( director of the university's Office of Technology Liaison.

Mr. Swann said that through the course of the development partnership, AT&T has been "very open, very encouraging." There's been no feel of a "not-invented-here syndrome," he said.

The software was developed by Mark Katsouros, Jonathan Rood and Sukij Yongpiyakul of the university's communications services department.

Microsoft VP to speak at Loyola techno fair

Microsoft Corp.'s vice president for sales in the United States will be the featured speaker when Loyola College holds its 1993 Technology Fair on Sept. 15.

Mike Appe will demonstrate the new Windows NT operating system and discuss the company's vision in his 1:30 p.m. talk in the McManus Theater on the Loyola campus. There's no charge, but the school asks those planning to attend to leave a taped reservation message on 617-5187.

From 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. that day, exhibitors ranging from Computer City to Silicon Graphics will be exhibiting their products in McGuire Hall.

And between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., the college art gallery will run demonstrations of the use of Amiga computers in the arts.

For more information, the fair hot line is 617-5185.

October bound to be technical knockout

October is the Greater Baltimore Committee's Fourth Annual Technology Month.

The committee has packed the calendar with nearly 20 events designed to toot the region's technological horn. A kickoff dinner is scheduled for Oct. 4 at the Hyatt Regency.

Biotechnology is the focus of several events, including a seminar on computational biology and an open house at the Columbus Center downtown.

For more information, write Carol Gilliss at the committee's offices, Suite 1500, 111 S. Calvert St., Baltimore 21202, or call her at 727-2820.

Women compute management gains

The weekly trade paper Computerworld is out with a survey showing that women are continuing to make significant inroads into computer management.

Today's issue reports that men's salary edge in information systems management jobs narrowed from 21 percent a year ago to 15 percent now, and women even hold the edge in the personal computer arena.

The percentage of women in managerial positions crept up just slightly, to 38.1 percent.

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