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November 7, 1995


By CBR Staff Writer

Cambridge-based Ionica Ltd is at last ready to put a date on launch of the telephone service for which it was granted a radio licence a couple of years back. It has been allocated a total of 30MHz of radio spectrum with which to offer wireless telephone services to UK customers and will now start on March 26 next year. The company’s system represents the first national effort anywhere to sell fixed wireless telephones as a mainstream service and is an attempt to break the current near-monopoly enjoyed by British Telecommunications Plc. The licence requires that Ionica cover 75% of the population of England and Wales within four years of start-up. The service will be launched in East Anglia and north east London in March where the company plans to target 1.8m residential and business users. Customers are connected to the wireless network via a new phone jack which when installed transmits digital radio back to an Ionica receiver for connection to the public switched network. The system uses radio in place of copper cabling to and within customers’ homes, reducing the time and cost of network construction, with the resulting savings being reflected in cheaper telephone bills. The network is based on a Service Management System and a Network Management System. The Service Management System runs under most versions of Unix, uses an Oracle relational database and will support the billing of a maximum of 70m calls per day. The radio channels have capacity of 64Kbps and the receiver is an octagional flat plate antenna one foot across. The company has licensed the technology to Scottish Power Plc for $35m. Scottish Telecom, the telecommunications arm of Scottish Power, plans to develop a separate service within the next 18 months to compete with British Telecom in Scotland. The company also plans to offer mobile services under an agreement with Vodafone Plc, which will link its network into the Ionica’s Radio Access System. Ionica has also signed a deal with Colt Telecommunications Ltd to provide it with services between Scotland and London. Colt customers should save 26% on their current bills. All Ionica equipment will be manufactured by Northern Telecom Ltd (CI No 2,784).

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