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April 22, 1992

IBM, McCAW, BABY BELLS, GTE AGREE PACKETISED CELLULAR DATA SYSTEM

By CBR Staff Writer

IBM Corp’s delayed joint announcement with McCaw Cellular Communications Inc on data transmission turned out to embrace eight other US cellular communications companies when it came yesterday, including the cellular arms of all the Baby Bells bar BellSouth Corp, plus GTE Corp’s cellular units and its Contel Cellular Corp subsidiary. IBM says that the partners have completed the technical specification of a packetised data broadcast system and are fine-tuning prototype equipment – and plan to make the technical specifications available licence-free to any manufacturer that wants to make equipment. IBM is supplying hardware and software to overlay existing cellular networks with a system called Celluplan II, which steals the gaps in between the words of conversations to deliver packetised data at a fast 19.2Kbps; a page of text would cost about $7.50 to send – much more for closely-spaced pages like those in Computergram. The partners operate networks that cover over 95% of the continental US, and look for 13m customers by the year 2000, up from the 100,000 or so that use services operated by RAM Mobile Data Inc in New York and IBM’s own rival Ardis service with Motorola Inc. The network anticipates introduction of personal information devices set by the likes of Apple Computer Inc, Hewlett-Packard Co, Sony Corp and Sharp Corp.

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