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  1. Technology
April 13, 1988


By CBR Staff Writer

Ferranti International Plc is to merge its cordless telephone interests with Libera Developments Ltd to create a new company, Ferranti Creditphone Ltd. The partners have together been developing a service adhering to the Department of Trade and Industry standard CT2, but have decided to formally merge into a concern in which Ferranti has a 55% majority shareholding. The other 45% will be owned by Libera’s institutional investors, Venture Capital Funding (Flemings), the British Technology Group, Electra, Melville Street Investments (Royal Bank of Scotland) and Telephone Rentals. Managing director of the new company John Cummings revealed that it has been given the go-ahead by the Office of Telecommunications to launch an alpha pilot in June and that equipment will be approved for public use on August 4. The new company hopes that by getting a service up and running so quickly, it will pre-empt all the others and win de facto standard status for transmission at 1.6GHz. August 4 is the date when a European Community directive blocking any further development of CT2 technology expires, a move initiated jointly by Ericsson and Philips who were proposing an alternative standard to be adopted across Europe. That battle has proved to be a goalless draw commented Cummings and said that the idea of a pan-European standard has been put back to 1993 with the priority to introduce cordless technology now, albeit in a proprietery form. The company still awaits approval to be licensed as an operator but says it is encouraged by Oftel’s attitude and expects to be similarly sanctioned by the Department of Trade & Industry to launch Zonephone in the UK by autumn. The idea of Zonephone is to install points in public places, so that anyone within a short distance of one of the points will be able to make – although not receive – calls on a pocket phone much simpler than a cellular phone. Ferranti Creditphone will operate its Zonephone service using a series of Telepoints which will route any user within a 400 yard radius onto the public switched telephone network. A central computer will collate information from the Telepoints in order to bill customers. The company is currently seeking to license the service to overseas manufacturers and telephone authorities and talks are under way with the Far East and the US where markets are four times the size of the UK potential, claims Cummings. The company is also trying to find a household name company to act as a third party outlet in the UK for selling equipment enrolling new subscribers and acting as a Telepoint site or PhoneZone. It says that at least one high street retailer is interested. Ferranti Creditphone will initially concentrate its service within the M25 motorway ring road around London, and expand outwards, and reckons users will stand a one in three chance of being able to make that call in year one of operation, and a two in three chance the following year.

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