Orbcomm completes satellite network

Final eight satellites in LEO system now in orbit All 28 satellites in ORBCOMMs initial low-Earth orbit (LEO) network are circling the globe and should be in full commercial service before the end of the year, according to the company.The completed system will allow ORBCOMM to provide near real-time access to its two-way wireless messaging, tracking, and monitoring services throughout the United States.

Final eight satellites in LEO system now in orbit All 28 satellites in ORBCOMMs initial low-Earth orbit (LEO) network are circling the globe and should be in full commercial service before the end of the year, according to the company.

The completed system will allow ORBCOMM to provide near real-time access to its two-way wireless messaging, tracking, and monitoring services throughout the United States. The goal is to relay messages to and from mobile users within 20 seconds.

The initial satellite constellation provides ubiquitous, or complete coverage throughout the worlds temperate zones. ORBCOMM plans to add another eight satellites next year to extend full coverage to the equatorial plains, the company says.

A growing number of resellers are using the LEO network to offer the trucking industry specialized tracking and messaging services, including untethered trailer tracking and asset management systems.

Resellers targeting the fleet market include Orbital Sciences, Vantage Tracking Solutions and ARINC.

Fleets and customers can now call up shipment details at the National Transportation Exchange Web site (www.nte.net). Pickup confirmation, enroute location, and delivery confirmation are all available at the site by entering either a purchase order or NTE ordernumber.

The load-matching service, which bills itself as an Internet-based electronic marketplace for motor carrier transportation services, allows member shippers and carriers to tender both loads and available space on a spot market basis.

Other recent Web site enhancements include trial membership access to the exchange and an on-line PowerPoint presentation on how the organization works.

Jana Bell, who joined HighwayMaster earlier this year as exec. vp and chief financial officer, has been named president and CEO of the communications company. Bill Saunders, the former president and CEO, will continue as chairman of the board. William Kennedy, the previous chairman and one of the companys founders, will retain a board seat as vice chairman.

As part of a reorganization that will sharpen its focus on the commercial dispatch and tracking business, HighwayMaster Corp. says it has also halted development of its Autolink service, a consumer-oriented automobile security system.

Along with the Autolink and management announcements, the company has announced that it is downsizing its work force by approximately one-fourth.

HighwayMaster provides mobile voice and data communication over an enhanced-cellular network that provides national coverage in the U.S. and Canada.

Cimarron Technologies has added CDPD (cellular digital packet data) wireless communications to its Skymark III GPS AVL fleet management system. Under a joint marketing agreement with Bell Atlantic Mobile, the fleet tracking and messaging system will be offered with CDPD service throughout Bell Atlantics network operating area.

A system that uses gamma rays to inspect sealed trucks and cargo containers for contraband was given the 1998 Computerworld/Smithsonian Award for Transportation. The Vehicle and Cargo Inspection System (VACIS) was developed by Science Applications International Corp. and has been used by the U.S. Customs Service to inspect nearly 50,000 vehicles.

The Iowa Dept. of Transportation will begin tracking its road maintenance vehicles with a satellite communications system developed by Orbital Sciences Corp. Over the next five years, the state DOT plans to equip all 1,000 trucks in its fleet with the ORBTRAC-100 two-way messaging and tracking system. It will be used to monitor the progress of snowplows and other emergency service vehicles.

An activity-based costing system for less-than-truckload applications and a data warehouse extension for that system have been revised and expanded by Transportation Consulting Group Inc. of Bethesda, Md. LTL/CIS Version 3.1 analyzes traffic and operating cost components of shipments; Traffic/CIS Version 3.1 handles driver manifests and customer profiles.

Qualcomm Inc. has shipped its 250,000th OmniTRACS mobile communications terminal. Fleets throughout the world now operate more OmniTRACS systems than all other mobile satellite service providers combined, according to the company.

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