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November 18, 1993

MCI LAB TO ENHANCE GROUPE SPECIALE MOBILE STANDARD

By CBR Staff Writer

Determined to become the day one market leader in the planned US Personal Communications Services business, MCI Communications Corp has rallied hardware and technology partners to create a laboratory for the technology in Richardson, Texas, where the parent of one of the partners, Ericsson GE Mobile Communications Inc, has a US base. The other partners are Northern Telecom Ltd, Nokia Corp, Telular Corp and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology-run Lincoln Laboratory. The system MCI proposes will be based on the Time Division Multiple Access-based Groupe Speciale Mobile digital cellular standard, but the Federal Communications Commission is taking a back seat on the subject of standards, so there may be a battle, and more than one standard may emerge. Backers of the rival Code Division Multiple Access technology say that it makes much more efficient use of capacity than Time Division, but MCI has gone for the latter because it is immediately available and already widely used. According to the Wall Street Journal, much of the work will focus on improving voice quality to the point where it matches wireline telephony. MCI expects to have specifications for a viable network published by the first quarter of 1994, ahead of the airwave auctions set for May, so that once the auction is out of the way, it will be able to start building in the markets where it makes winning bids. It is clearly confident of winning big in the auction process because it says it is already planning to invest $10,000m in its proposed system over 10 years. It faces competition in its bid to rally partners for a seamless US-wide network, because Bell Atlantic Corp, BellSouth Corp, Pacific Telesis Group Inc, Stentor Inc, Time Warner Inc and US West Inc have come together a rival consortium to establish a Personal Communications net with US-wide coverage.

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