GTE today announced it has activated the first national wireless data network, with OnStar, the network's first major user.
Called WIN4, the first-of-its-kind network was designed by GTE Wireless specifically for commercial information services and data traffic. OnStar, the nation's leading provider of in-vehicle safety, security and information services, will use the network for the new OnStar devices being deployed in 12 GM models this year.
WIN4 uses GTE's existing wireless network, plus arrangements with more than 30 other carriers to create an industry-standard platform that provides coverage throughout the United States and Canada. The WIN4 network is the first to accommodate messages of any size and offer seamless wireless connections between remote equipment and monitoring sites for a wide variety of applications.
"We designed the WIN4 network to handle the growing demand for a national wireless network that reliably accommodates traffic between machines, and the people and systems that monitor them," said Mark Feighner, president - GTE Wireless. "We are excited that OnStar is the first to use the network."
"It won't be long before millions of vehicles are equipped with in-vehicle data and voice communications systems that help drivers and passengers in emergency situations, such as communicating with a help center when airbags deploy," Feighner added, "It is critical that the wireless network carrying this kind of information is free of service interruptions. The broad array of wireless providers with whom we've contracted, in addition to our own GTE network, provides industry with this kind of exceptional reliability for the first time."
"We have a clear requirement for a robust, highly economical, nationwide wireless network," said Jay Sheth, OnStar executive director of wireless business development. "We are committed to providing OnStar subscribers with reliable and affordable safety, security and information services wherever they travel in the U.S. and Canada."
The OnStar system is available in 31 different GM models. About 50,000 units were sold through 1998. The new 3-button format, featuring one-touch access to an OnStar advisor for routine help and a special "priority call" button for emergencies, is a standard feature in the new Cadillac Escalade sport utility vehicle.
"The WIN4 network has applications for a number of industries," said Phil Forbes, assistant vice president-Carrier Relations for GTE Wireless. "This service opens up a whole new world of machine-to-machine communications. Unlike any other, GTE's network provides a low-cost, robust, low-fraud network with nearly immeasurable current and future applications-from heavy industry uses to healthcare applications, to consumer goods like toys, wristwatches and PCs."
Other industry applications include: monitoring of heavy equipment, gas tanks, refrigerated units, rail cars; performing real-time engine diagnostics, remote meter reading, processing insurance claims from the field, and many others.
WIN4 network benefits include: ubiquitous coverage, two-way messaging, competitive service pricing, and a single point of contact for national service and web-based provisioning. The network is designed to work the same way everywhere, an important feature for national commercial applications.
About GTE Wireless
GTE Wireless provides voice, paging and data telecommunications services to more than 4.8 million customers in 17 states. GTE Wireless is a part of GTE Corp. (NYSE: GTE). With 1998 revenues of more than $25 billion, GTE is one of the world's largest telecommunications companies and a leading provider of integrated voice, video and data services. More information is available at www.gte.com.