TELECOM Digest Editor originally questioned, which is more of a threat, SBC or Verizon:
As far as your first question, define threat. Is Verizon or SBC a threat to what?
As far as Nextel, I am not the expert on Nextel and their technology, but the analogy I use when discussing the differences between Nextel and Cellular service and the attempts to recreate the "Direct Connect" feature by carriers such as Verizon Wireless and AT&T was that Nextel was a walkie-talkie with a phone feature, the others are a cell phone with a walkie-talkie feature.
Nextel was built on the LMRS, or Land Mobile Radio Service frequencies and services. This was the taxicab and business dispatch frequency band. Nextel also incorporated a lot of the "Mom and Pop" paging companies and their frequencies in order to obtain bandwidth. As far as "Direct Connect" being a "fancy sort of speed dial", you could probably argue that it is true just as my analogy is true. The Nextel (actually Motorola) implementation is known for its connect speed, normally in the range of just a couple of seconds vice the up to 10 or more for the traditional cellular carriers. The conversation is carried on in the same way as the walkie-talkies, most people scream into their device and blast everyone in the area with the maximum volume on the speaker.
Some have stated if the units are close enough they will transmit between themselves directly without using a tower, otherwise they will use a site and be carried just as if it were a cell-to-cell conversation. We recently installed a Nextel base station in one of our buildings and it is configured to carry a total of 19 concurrent conversations on three frequencies. These include the "dispatch" or two-way and regular cellular type calls. It is possible for a person on the 6th floor to carry on a conversation to a unit in the basement with their two-way. While it may not sound like much, the building is almost 100 years old and has load-bearing walls on the top floor that are almost two meters thick made out of red brick. There is a 28 dB loss between the office on the outside of the wall and the inner part of the building. In terms most can relate to, that's going from four bars of signal to one.
But yes Pat, if you and your friend in Chicago wanted to hold a walkie-talkie conversation it would be carried on both airwaves and landlines.[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: That sounds rather amazing to me, in view of the fact that we are about 700 miles from Chicago, and I have never yet seen any 'radio equipment' (with ease to carry around, and battery operated and low radiation power) which could cover such a distance. I could see a few miles in a city, or two such units in a town like this where I am, but Citizen Band, 2-meter units, and even the older style pocket pagers cannot 'make a trip' like that, (700 miles from Chicago) but Nextel can?
Regards 'threat', I was referring to the 'threat' to consumers, in making informed choices in telecom services. Which of them -- Verizon or SBC -- is more likely to clamp the lid down on us sometime soon if they are able to do so? PAT]