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July 19, 1987


By CBR Staff Writer

A new concept in telephony which combines many of the benefits of cellular and cordless phones is being pioneered in the UK. At present, cordless phones, require a fixed base station and can only be used within 20 to 30 yards of that station. This lack of flexibility means their use is usually confined to the home or office and, as a result, they have failed to become a mass market product. Cellular phones, on the other hand, while now, with the expansion of the networks, becoming genuinely usable all over the country, are bulky and expensive to buy and run. One solution to the problems could be cordless phones capable of working in the immediate vicinity of any base station rather than their own specific station. In time, this could lead to a series of stations all over the country, perhaps as widespread as telephone boxes are today. The phones would not require the heavy and expensive transmission equipment built into today’s cellular phones, but would be usable over just as wide an area, although not while the user was on the move, and would be much lighter and cheaper to boot. Instead of being analogue as at present, the new phones would be digital. Certainly, British Telecom is impressed by the arguments and, after a joint feasibility study with STC, has commissioned STC Telecommunications to take the idea further. An initial contract worth UKP6m is expected to result in STC building the new generation of cordless phones at its Belfast, Ulster factory, using similar technology to that found in its digital paging devices, starting in 1990. Other digital cordless communications products – CT2s – are expected to follow. Telecom will retain rights to market the phones which it believes, at around UKP200 at today’s prices against UKP100 to UKP150 for the current generation of cordless products, but UKP2,000 or so for pocket cellular phones, will have major European and world sales potential.

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