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December 15, 1988updated 06 Sep 2016 10:50am

EUROCOMM 88

By CBR Staff Writer

Amsterdam hears clarion call for telecommunications competition on UK model… Director of Technical Affairs at the Department of Trade & Industry Stephen Temple, invited to Amsterdam to air his views on the future of European mobile services, expressed strong hopes that Europe would come down firmly on the side of competition rather than monopoly for the provision of the infrastructure for future public mobile services. Maintaining that there is genuine political backing for European-wide digital systems, Mr Temple argued that European policies would play a critical role in the future of mobile communications; with appropriate policies and a European size market in which to develop, he claimed that the European Community could dominate the future of mobile telecommunications, particularly with regard to the consumer electronics end of the business. He cited the proposed pan European digital cellular system as a model for European co operation, in stark contrast to his disappointment at the lack of a common perspective with respect of digital cordless telephones, a field in which he is less optimistic over Europe’s ability to compete in the world market. He sees little future in analogue cordless phones at 900MHz, and argued that although European Telecommunications Standards body is likely to concentrate resources in the region of 1.6GHz, this frequency has little long-term commercial viability because of the enormous overheads involved; this would imply the use of an existing technology for the back end of the equipment, probably the UK’s CT2 digital technology. In the field of digital cellular radio, Mr Temple said future success depended largely on the achievement of a single market in Europe by 1991, and he considered the introduction of competition in the provision of cellular radio in France and West Germany as a critical driving force for the pan European digital cellular radio system, as it would induce investment and exert pressure on manufacturers to produce cost efficient solutions. On the Telepoint front, Mr Temple predicted that Europe would trail the rest of the world without the rapid introduction of competition into continental markets, as is planned in the UK. In conclusion, Mr Temple forecast that Europe would witness a trend towards what he called district communications: this will involve the subdivision of national service zones to form small cells to increase capacity, and an aggregation of spot coverage zones to form discontinuous national service. The result, he says, will form something of a third generation where the two converge. Given frequency management of the highest calibre, 10 years ahead of product development, Mr Temple expressed his confidence that Europe had the capability to lead the world in district communications of the kind he envisaged.

…but European Community consultant accuses UK of narrow sectional interest Robert Taylor, president of European Research Associates and consultant to the European Commission in preparation of the Green Paper on European Telecommunications Policy, was also invited to discuss prospects for European telecommunications. Again, it was proposed that developments should be intrinsically linked with future conceptions of Europe; current examples of this included Siemens AG’s claim that it, rather than AT&T Co, should partner Italy’s Italtel SpA on the grounds of European co-operation – a proposal that generated much fluttering in the US dovecote – and Sweden’s L M Ericsson Telefon AB’s decision to set up production within the European Community so it could be seen as an EC company. He concluded that the UK has, in fact, held back a European-wide market because its of ambitions to make London a centre of excellence, with little regard to any European dimension in its approach.

Alcatel believes too much deregulation will harm European firms… In contrast to the general mood of the conference, Philippe Gluntz, executive vice-president of the Alcatel NV joint venture between CGE SA and ITT Corp, warned that further deregulation of the Eur

opean telecommunications market could erode what he considers a currently healthy outlook for European telecommunciations manufacturers. Gluntz was adamant that few benefits could be derived from alliances with non-Europeans firms, proposing that Europe should follow Alcatel’s ECR 900 consortium with Nokia Telecommunications and AEG AG to develop and manufacture equipment for the pan-European digital cellular radio network – which he claims will have 10m subscribers by 1998. For Gluntz, the lack of a single political voice, particularly in the Third World, represents a major threat to the future success of European telecommunications; the absence of government ambassadors, actively competing for orders would, he said, put European firms at a disadvantage against Japanese and US competitors.

…but world body reaches accord on joint declaration And, in the closing hours of EuroComm 88, news came through to Amsterdam that the World Administrative Telegraph and Telephone Conference, WATTC, assembling in Melbourne, had announced a joint declaraton on international communications, despite the admission of a number of disagreements. The major issue was the degree to which International Telecommunications Union regulations should cover private operators and users; 112 out of 113 nations signed the joint agreement – all but Venezuela – including all 26 members of CEPT, the Conference on European Posts & Telecommunications, and the US, which had wanted a more flexible and neutral document, with a less regulatory bias. The UK Department of Trade & Industry’s Robert Priddle claimed the agreement had succeeded in bridging the differences between those who were seeking to protect their own national networks through regulation, and those looking for a market relatively free of such restrictions; the UK Department responded to the agreement with satisfaction, claiming that it would impose no new constraints on UK telecommunications companies operating in the world market.

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