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November 8, 1988


By CBR Staff Writer

GEC Plessey Telecommunications Ltd sees the biggest market for cordless telephone applications not in conventional telephony but in data transmission, where the company hopes to capitalise on its strength as a PABX manufacturer. It is planning to launch a battery of CT2 cordless phone products onto the European market, with the first three items, catering for the business, domestic and public user, planned to appear in 1990. It also confirmed yesterday that its products will comply with the common air interface standard recently defined by the UK industry, and that it doesn’t want to whet the public’s appetite with interim proprietary offerings, in contrast to the strategy being adopted by a number of manufacturers led by Shaye Communications and Ferranti International. GEC Plessey looks for a UKP1,000m market supporting 4m users by 1995, but with users on the Telepoint voice traffic system numbering just 70,000. Andy Pearce, marketing manager in the Business Systems division, listed second generation applications of CT2 spanning scenarios as diverse as the connecting to the last mile in the telephone network, point-of-sale for retailers, credit card transactions, and even floated the idea of CT2 in space. GEC Plessey is initially focussing its development energies on the cordless PABX, which will enable local connections between computers and data terminals, plus access onto the public switch telephone network. Pearce said that mobility aspects of cordless will not necessarily be the most popular but claimed that the ability to reconfigure office communications will be greatly eased by the elimination of cables. Meanwhile the first three products planned for the 1990 launch will be first, a basic cordless telephone and base station supporting up to eight handsets and one exchange line, for PABX or public switched telephone network connection, tailored for domestic or small office use. Second, a more powerful version will offer higher capacity to accomodate a greater number of handsets, while a top-of-the range system, also set for 1990, will operate as a key-system or PABX. Eventually GEC Plessey plans to cater for the larger 60 employee-plus organisation by clustering three of the top-range units with digital links. Other CT2 activities currently engaging GPT are Airpoint, as it works alongside GEC Avionics and a number of unnamed airlines to provide portable handheld communications from the sky, and is even looking at more cosmic applications – the European Space Agency has apparently expressed an interest in the standard. Closer to earth, the future of European cordless communications looks bright, with PTTs in France and Germany planning Tele point trials although the Bundes post is still deliberating whether to go with CT2 or wait for a CEPT version to arrive – with cynics saying it’s still five years away.

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