Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

PCS or Not PCS? Acronyms May Not Matter Much to End Users

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

PCS or Not PCS? Acronyms May Not Matter Much to End Users

Article excerpt

What's PCS and what isn't PCS?

PCS, short for Personal Communications Services, is billed as

the next wave of mobile communications, combining a phone, pager

and answering machine into one pocket-sized device.

Two new companies will offer PCS in Jacksonville. One, Powertel

Inc., already is selling its service and launches an ad campaign

this week. The other, PrimeCo Personal Communications, will roll

out its product soon.

Meanwhile, AT&T Wireless Services has been heavily advertising

a service it calls Digital PCS, which it introduced early this


That's ticked off the new PCS industry, which says PCS

describes a specific spectrum of radio frequencies auctioned off

by the government last year --frequencies that PCS companies paid

millions for.

AT&T Wireless is using a lower range of frequencies and

shouldn't call its service PCS, critics say.

Baloney, AT&T says. It provides a digital network and many of

the same services the new companies will offer, and that's what

PCS describes.

"It's all about services," said AT&T Wireless spokeswoman

Trent McGuire. "People don't care if the phone in their hand is

powered by a rubber band as long as it makes their communications

easier and more convenient."

The PCS providers say their systems are more secure and

provide other advantages, including cost, over their cell-phone

competitors. AT&T Wireless and BellSouth Mobility don't agree, of


There are even differences among the two local PCS providers.

Powertel uses a platform called GSM, for Global System for Mobile

communications; PrimeCo uses a protocol called CDMA, or Code

Division Multiple Access.

But whether a phone is a "true" PCS or which protocol it uses

will make little difference to the end user, said Bob Montgomery,

network manager for the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association.

"Quite frankly, who cares?" Montgomery said. "Does the phone

work? That's the bottom line."

It was nail-biting time for Continental Cablevision officials

last week when a presentation to the PC Users' Group of

Jacksonville nearly went haywire. …

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