Betting on the Sky

From phones to faxes, it's suddenly a free-for-all in the booming wireless-communications business

Until recently, mobile radio was to wireless communications what the Yugo was to transportation. With a motley clientele ranging from truckers using CBs to police armed with walkie-talkies to taxi drivers dispatched by radio, it was viewed as an unglamorous business and a technological backwater.

But specialized mobile radio, as it is known, has been rediscovered. It is now considered one of the biggest prizes in the all-out war for the public airwaves. The reason: high-tech companies have figured out how to profitably rebuild the antiquated dispatching system into an advanced cellular-telephone network that can take on the likes of AT&T...

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