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  1. Technology
July 10, 1990


By CBR Staff Writer

In the face of Siemens AG’s technological and marketing might, the future existence of iSDX is based on GEC Plessey Business Systems Group director Brian Meade’s conviction that both parties are keen to make it [the Siemens-GEC Plessey relationship] work. For the time being, making it work is likely to mean that GEC Plessey will continue successfully to sell the iSDX to countries that support its DPNSS Digital Private Network Signalling Standard, such as the UK, Holland and Finland, while still looking at other targeted markets such as Australia and China – although the export of common channel signalling technology to China is subject to CoCom restrictions. What Meade acknowledged as the territorial limitations of DPNSS would, in other markets, have to be overcome by the addition of gateways to exchanges based on Q931-based specifications, including the inter-PABX signalling standard in joint development by Siemens and Alcatel NV. In the meantime, the drive is on at GEC Plessey to find new markets for the iSDX line by increasing its functionality, with revision 3.6 of the iSDX software currently under field trials to include automatic call distribution, multiline terminal and increased packet switching facilities. The automatic call distribution system for processing large volumes of incoming telephone traffic has been developed in conjunction with GPT Australia, and is already used in that country by a number of organisations including the National Road and Motorist’s Association. GPT ACD will support DPNSS, DASS2 and Q931 signalling systems. The multi-line terminal allows a total of 16 telephones to be configured in a group, and indicates the status of each of the 16 lines – a typical application would be on the desk of a secretary responsible for several managers. The limited packet switching facilities of the iSDX will, with revision 3.6, eventually be on the D channel as opposed to the B channel currently used; by setting up permanent calls between iSDXs with packet switching, organisations will be able to form a complete private packet switched data network on top of their existing voice network. Despite the cost savings claimed for such network sharing, GEC Plessey reckons that there is not much demand for it yet, while the PTTs have given it a mixed response. Revision 3.6 is to be available shortly. GEC is also working on a new 20 to 50 extension line exchange dubbed the Micro and designed to offer iSDX facilities to small users and to the branch offices of larger organisations; GEC Plessey also reckons Micro will attract customers that want a low-cost entry into basic rate integrated services digital networks. First installations of Micro will be made at the beginning of 1991. The most ambitious development under way is, however, the gradual introduction of cordless communication through the exchange, which is intended to culminate in two-way portable extensions capable of using all iSDX features. Cordless communication will be based on the Common Air Interface standard, and will use concentrators located in the office building and linked via radio to standard CT2 handsets. GEC Plessey says that a limited degree of cordlessness will be available over iSDX in around three months, but it is likely to be 18 months before a fully integrated cordless and wired exchange – with complete iSDX features – will be available. GEC Plessey is also looking to talk to Siemens with a view to putting Common Air Interface-based cordless features on Siemens’ rival Hicom private branch exchange. – Mark John

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