A decision on which technology to choose as standard to define the radio interface for a pan-European digital cellular radio system by the Groupe Speciale Mobile, GSM, unit of Conference Europene des Administrations des Postes et Telegraphes, CEPT, was stymied last week by the French and the German public telecoms authorities. The other 13 of the 15 telecommunications administrations, including the UK’s Department of Trade and Industry supported by British Telecom/Securicor and Racal Vodafone, voted for a narrowband solution at a meeting held in Madeira last week. But the French Direction Generale de Telecommunications, DGT, and the West German Bundespost reserved their postions in favour of broadband technology. The other parties present at the meeting have given the two administrations until March 16 to clarify their position and if they have not done so by that date the EEC Commission says it will enforce a decision. A narrowband draft specification has been drawn up, including aspects of all six narrowband proposals put forward by European companies. These include Laboratoires Centrale de Telecommunications in France, an old ITT company now owned by Matra and TRT; Bosch and ANT, which is owned by Bosch and AEG; Ericsson; Televerket, which is the Swedish public telecommunications authority, and again the proposal is subcontracted to Ericsson; Mobira of Finland; and Norwegian research institute Elab, which is attached to the University of Trondheim. Two broadband proposals were put forward. The first was led by Standard Electrik Lorenz of Germany, with AEG, Alcatel NV, SAT of France and Italtel of Italy; the second proposal is shared by two Philips subsidiaries, TRT in France and Tekade in Germany. Meanwhile British Telecom is confident that a narrowband solution will go ahead and has announced that it is spending UKP6m to continue research and development of the narrowband digital technology it has been testing over the last year in its pre-competitive stage with Plessey, GEC and Racal Vodafone. The company is now talking to GEC and Plessey about manufacturing equipment for it, as well as to STC. It is also talking to some of the big continental manufacturers – we cannot afford to see this issue in national terms, says business planning manager of British Telecom Mobile Phones Peter Carpenter. If we are to get the economies of scale necessary for a pan-European system, we must look at the cellular radio market in European terms. During 1987, Telecom will be developing the test bed to incorporate the parameters set out by CEPT’s GSM committee. In 1988, it will order a pre-operational system covering mobiles and base stations and it hopes to get a digital narrowband cellular system working by 1991.
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