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February 15, 1989


By CBR Staff Writer

The US Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association’s decision to choose the Time Division Multiple Access standard, TDMA, for transmitting conversations digitally between radio towers and phones (CI No 1,103), means that telecommunications manufacturers may begin selling new equipment to system operators as early as 1990. L M Ericsson Telefon AB, whose standard was accepted, and Northern Telecom Ltd, which claims it will have systems available for field tests by the late summer of 1990, should be among the first to enter the market; industry sources say, however, there are at least four other major standards issues to be settled before systems can be fully digitised. According to Thomas Powers, head of AT&T’s cellular equipment business – which proposed the rival Frequency Division Multiple Access system – the industry’s delay was due to the fact that there is is no compelling advantage to one or the other. Other companies are pursuing alternative methods to compress voices to between 11Kbps and 6Kbps; executives expect speech compression methods to be another area of dispute, but the Cellular Trade Association expects all digital standard issues to be ready to go to the Federal Communications Commission by year-end.

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