Qualcomm Incorporated (NASDAQ:QCOM) announced a strategic partnership arrangement with Transcommunications Incorporated (Transcom), marking the first time that domestic users of the OmniTRACS® mobile communications system will have the ability to send andreceive Internet email messages anywhere in the world, from the cabs oftheir trucks. With the introduction of CabCARD Personal Communications, Qualcomm is once again meeting the needs of the transportation industry by providing a unique communications solution—one that benefits drivers and fleet owners alike.
CabCARD Personal Communications offers multiple functions—email via the OmniTRACS mobile terminal, voicemail via Transcom-operated services, as well as other prepaid telephone services from any touch-tone phone. And best of all, the CabCARD is rechargeable, using either a message from the truck that accesses the driver payroll or advance accounts, money transfer systems, personal checks, money orders or major credit cards.
Combining the ease of Transcom's prepaid phone card with the OmniTRACS satellite-based communications system, CabCARD Personal Communications enables drivers to communicate privately with friends, family and other fleet drivers. Drivers who use the CabCARD driver email feature describe it as an affordable alternative to the telephone and a convenient and easy-to-use tool for keeping in touch while on the road.
"CabCARD's driver email is convenient because I don't have to stop and hunt down a pay phone, deal with busy signals, or play phone tag to send or receive a message," said Sherry Young, a driver for Chattanooga-based U.S. Xpress, the beta test site for this service. "Driver email gets the message through whether a person is home or not."
Using the OmniTRACS mobile communications terminal and a CabCARD account, a driver can send a message for less than the cost of most cellular phone calls. Long-haul driver Cecil Moon stated that his cellular bills used to average $150 every month, but CabCARD's driver email has helped reduce his communications costs to about $60 per month. Team drivers Carl and Linda Lavergne said their monthly calling card bill has been reduced by about 40 percent since using CabCARD's driver email. In addition to enjoying reduced personal communications costs, drivers currently using CabCARD's driver email feature say that keeping in touch with family and friends is easier than ever. And they are pleased with the privacy the CabCARD system provides.
"For the first time, I don't have to worry about being on the road and missing an important message," said Linda Lavergne. "Dispatchers have always been good about relaying a personal message through the OmniTRACS system, but sometimes they would get busy and not get an urgent message to us for a long time. With driver email, we can send and receive messages whenever we want, and we no longer worry about the message being delayed."
With driver turnover plaguing the trucking industry, cries for benefits, such as those provided by CabCARD Personal Communications, have been heard nationwide. According to Max Fuller, co-chairman of U.S. Xpress Enterprises, the CabCARD product is proving to be a viable tool for increasing driver satisfaction. "This is the biggest thing we've ever done to bring our drivers closer to their families," Fuller said. "It can be extremely lonely on the road and away from family and friends. CabCARD services provide fleets with a quick and affordable means for keeping drivers happy. Cellular methods are okay, but we found them unaffordable for the majority of drivers out there."
"Providing a cost-effective, convenient way for drivers to communicate on a personal level was our Number 1 goal," said John Sarto, senior vice president and general manager of Qualcomm's OmniTRACS Division. "With CabCARD Personal Communications, we have given users access to the Internet using the OmniTRACS system and created a venue for limitless future opportunities."
The prepaid nature of the service allows users to budget their communications expenses with no surprise bills at the end of the month. Transcom's management system software, which currently operates on the AS/400 platform, allows for the prepayment of messages to be deducted from driver payroll or advance accounts. A preformatted "macro" message from the driver via the OmniTRACS mobile terminal to the Transcom Management System (TMS) is all it takes to have prepaid time added to the CabCARD. In addition, messages sent to drivers are password-protected, thus eliminating the fear of being charged for messages from unknown senders.
"Transcom developed the prepaid TransCARDSM phone card three years ago aspart of a driver retention program for trucking companies," said Jim Coppinger, founder and executive vice president of Transcom. "We're excited to be a part of these revolutionary capabilities and are pleased that this successful and proven service is now being expanded to provide email capabilities through Qualcomm's OmniTRACS system."
Family and friends may use a personal computer or an inexpensive Internet appliance to exchange email with the driver. The email message is transmitted via any online Internet service provider through Transcom's Network Service Center and over Qualcomm's satellite to the truck.
CabCARD's driver email messaging capabilities are currently only availablefor OmniTRACS mobile communications customers that operate on an AS/400 computer platform. However, CabCARD's prepaid phone services are available for all OmniTRACS customers.
Qualcomm's industry-leading Eudora Light electronic mail software is available free of charge for users authorized by the driver to send and receive email communications using CabCARD's driver email. Eudora email software enables a PC that is connected to an Internet network to send and receive email. Eudora email software is available to consumers through a wide variety of retail outlets, computer catalogues and on-line software stores. Eudora Light email software can be obtained electronically from the Eudora web site at http://www.eudora.com.
Headquartered in Chattanooga, Tenn., Transcommunications Incorporated develops and implements complex value-added telecommunications solutions, software and controlled access services for the transportation, retail, corporate travel, computer and software industries. Products include intelligent telecommunications network services, value-added voice response systems, software and prepaid credit-based long distance services. In addition to providing email Internet-connectivity for Qualcomm's satellite communications units, Transcom is the transportation industry leader in providing prepaid phone cards and other network services, such as conference calling, automated recharge and news, weather and sports updates to drivers.
Qualcomm's family of OmniTRACS products include the OmniTRACS mobile communications and position reporting system; value-added application software designed to enhance existing operations; transportation and business solutions; and information management systems. Qualcomm has sold more than 175,000 OmniTRACS units worldwide, with systems operating in the United States, Canada, Europe, Brazil, Mexico, Japan, Korea and Malaysia.
Headquartered in San Diego, Qualcomm develops, manufactures, markets, licenses and operates advanced communications systems and products based on its proprietary digital wireless technologies. The Company's primary product areas are the OmniTRACS® system (a geostationary satellite-based, mobile communications system providing two-way data and position reporting services), CDMA wireless communications systems and products and, in conjunction with others, the development of the Globalstar low-earth-orbit (LEO) satellite communications system. Other Company products include the Eudora Pro electronic mail software, ASIC products, and communications equipment and systems for government and commercial customers worldwide. For more information on Qualcomm products and technologies, please visit the Company's web site at http://www.qualcomm.com.
Except for the historical information contained herein, this news release contains forward-looking statements that are subject to risks and uncertainties, including timely product development, change in economic conditions of the various markets the Company serves, as well as the other risks detailed from time to time in the Company's SEC reports, including the report on Form 10-K for the year ended September 24, 1995 and most recent Form 10-Qs.