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April 18, 1988


By CBR Staff Writer

It looks as if Plessey Co will have a foot in two rival UK camps in the promising market for digital cellular telephone equipment for the 1990s. Racal Electronics Plc’s distaste at allowing GEC Plc into its Orbitel Mobile Communications Ltd joint venture with Plessey for digital cellular equipment has prevailed, and the 50 50 venture will proceed without GEC. According to the Financial Times, Racal, which has very successfully pioneered the cellular phone market in the UK in competition with the British Telecom Securicor Cellnet consortium, feared that if GEC were brought into the venture, it would press for use of a digital cellular switch based on the System X exchange. Racal’s Vodafone unit already uses switches based on L M Ericsson Telefon AB’s AXE exchange, and it is Orbitel’s intention to use Ericsson AXE exchanges for the digital cellular system. And Racal’s fears seem well-founded: the 50-50 GEC Plessey Telecommunications Holdings Ltd joint venture reportedly plans to develop its own range of digital cellular equipment, including a cellular exchange based on System X; Orbitel intention is to supply Ericsson switches with its own base stations and software.

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