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Science & Technology
Internet cellphones

For the record
Omer Manya
Science & Technology
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From Diana J. Choyce
Apr 10 - 16, 2000

International cell-to-cell calls possible for the first time

Making phone calls via the internet is saving consumers millions in toll costs. It's also causing old line phone company's a lot of heartache. But there is another market that has not been breached...yet. There are currently 500 million cell phone users worldwide and annual revenues generated by the cell phone industry exceed $25 billion annually. A new company called Cellcross.com is hoping to seize a share of those profits. And given the cost of cellular accounts, consumers are sure to be thrilled if this idea works.

The founders of Cellcross.com are Michael S. Pascazi and Frank P. Zarzeka, who were also founders of Fiber Opt. Fiber Opt is a designer and installer of fiber optic networks. Cellcross.com was created to develop and deploy proprietary technology permitting cell phone traffic worldwide over the Internet. This new project is based on system technology invented by Pascazi. It will allow a cell phone user anywhere in the world to call another phone user by translating the signal to Internet Protocol (IP), transmitting around the globe by Internet and then reconverting it to complete the call, with no intervening phone companies or long distance tolls involved. This will make international cell-to-cell calls possible for the first time. According to Pascazi, Cellcross.com plans on constructing a prototype network among four major cities around the world, such as New York, Rome, Tokyo and Santiago within the next six months. Once the company goes live, users can go to the company's web site and sign up using their credit card and country. "Within 24 hours of registration, Cellcross.com will respond with the local access number for country of choice and a PIN code," he said. "The users can then place all his international cell phone calls at low cost with the aid of the Internet." The company already has prototype equipment operational at its New York headquarters and is continuing to refine the technology. "The market for Cellcross.com is huge," Pascazi said. "There are currently 500 million cell phone users worldwide and annual revenues generated by the cell phone industry exceed $25 billion annually. Cellcross.com expects to capture a share of that market quickly by offering low-cost connections in sharp contrast to the $4.00-per-minute charges that are common now."

Fiber Opt originally announced this new project in October of last year. And at that time a working prototype was already operational at the company's headquarters. Their press release stated "This advance is made possible by Fiber Optek's state-of-the-art Internet Protocol communications technology which combines specialized software and its "IP Black Boxes" hardware to allow origination or reception of cell phone calls through standard telephone networks, with re-routing over the Internet. The only cost for such cell phone calls, of any length anywhere in the world, Mr. Pascazi said, will be for the local cell service and the monthly Internet connection charge. "The potential cost savings are vast," he added. When asked how the system worked, Mr. Pascazi explained further that The company's sending/receiving Black Boxes wherever located are connected to the Internet. Standard telephones are connected to each box. A cell phone user dials the Black Box phone number for the country of his or her location. The call is converted to IP Protocol, transmitted over the Internet and the number rings without the need for a toll call. "We believe this system is superior to all other voice-over IP solutions available today," Mr. Pascazi declared. Fiber Opt plans to further develop its technology so that it may be applied to Carrier Quality OC-3, OC-48 and OC-192 systems within a few years. The deployment of these systems, Mr. Pascazi said, will obviate the need for new long-haul transmission systems costing hundreds of millions of dollars.

A recent press release by Fiber Opt further states that when the Cellcross system is deployed world-wide, cell phones will be usable anywhere, day or night, with no need for a toll call. Equally valuable will be the convenience afforded the millions who rely on cell phones for both business and personal communications.The potential market for the Cellcross hardware/software system, Mr. Pascazi added, has led Fiber Opt to consider a partner company topspeed production and installation of its units here and abroad. Fiber Optek's climbing backlog of orders has led to a staff expansion program that will extend over the next six months, according to Mr. Pascazi. "Knowing that our continuing growth will require additional capital as well as a steadily expanding employee family, my advisors and I are currently evaluating the idea of going public through an initial public offering of our common stack, along with other methods of capital acquisition."