Integrator's Wireless Solution Prompts Additional $243,750 In Sales
Customizing a Fortune 500 Company's car phones earned Celestial Networks Inc. $282,750 in sales revenue and a solution that is gaining interest from other customers.
Most of us don't think about the security - or privacy - of our cell phone conversations. However, one of Stan Szelest's customers takes cell phone security very seriously. Szelest is the president of Celestial Networks Inc. (Cincinnati), an integrator specializing in wireless communications. One of his customers is a Fortune 500 company that, more than once, had private corporate information exposed via its phone systems. Therefore, in the early 1990s, the customer installed encrypted Motorola (Schaumburg, IL) phones in its fleet of corporate and executives' vehicles. The company also paid Ameritech for use of an encrypted, private wireless network for these phones.
As the years went by, Motorola discontinued the model of phones the company was using and parts became scarce. Furthermore, the company began experiencing connection problems (i.e. calls being disconnected) with the analog network since it had been almost entirely transitioned to a digital network.
When the company installed its car phones in the early 1990s, one of its main contacts at Motorola was Szelest. Now in need of a new system, the company again contacted Szelest who had just started Celestial Networks, Inc.
Customize Cellular Phones For More Coverage
"The owner of the company liked the style, and especially the large keypads, of his older Motorola phones," Szelest said. "He said the keypads on new cell phones are too small to be able to dial and drive safely. Instead, he wanted a phone similar in size to his old ones, with hands-free dialing, and with a reliable and digital network connection."
Szelest decided to stick with Motorola components for this project since he and the customer were most familiar with that vendor's products. He started with a Motorola M8989 dual-band (900/1800 MHz) OEM handset and added a Motorola d15 GSM (Global System for Mobile communications) tri-band data module (electronic circuit board). Another circuit board was added to convert the handset to operate on the GSM 1900 MHz frequency.
"These customized phones operate on 2 watts of power instead of the .2 watts traditional GSM phones use," Szelest said. "That extra power enhances the phones' reception." In addition, the new phones offer voice-activated dialing, a data port, GPS (global positioning system) interfaces, and a dual handset capability for limo applications.
Earn More Revenue From Activation Fees
Once the hardware portion of the project was complete, Szelest's next step was choosing a network that would meet the customer's security and coverage needs. "I explained that digital networks are more secure than analog networks - but not entirely secure," Szelest said. "It just costs more to hack into a digital network's signal." Since he had added GSM connectivity to the Motorola phones, Szelest contacted wireless carrier T-Mobile (the primary GSM network carrier at the time) to set up his customer's wireless accounts. Szelest wanted to become an authorized dealer in the T-Mobile network so he could earn activation fee revenue (which varies with each carrier) from each of his customers' cell phone accounts. To do so, he was told to contact RACO Wireless (Cincinnati), a national premier dealer for T-Mobile. Through RACO, Celestial Networks became an authorized T-Mobile dealer and Szelest's customer's solution was complete.
What About Wireless Encrypted E-Mail?
Celestial contracted with another company to install the phones in the customer's limos and executive vehicles. The customer tested the new solution for three weeks in two vehicles and found no coverage problems. The initial contract called for a dozen phone kits, which Celestial sold for $3,250 each. Due to the customer's satisfaction with the style of the phones and the coverage of the network, Celestial was given another contract to outfit an additional 75 vehicles with these units.
Since then, Celestial has also begun testing a solution for wireless encrypted e-mail, which is certified secure at the FIPS (Federal Information Processing Standard) 140-2 level of encryption. (This level of encryption was only available to top government agencies such as NATO until very recently.) Several large federal agencies have also contacted Celestial for a phone solution similar to this project.