A determined effort to create a relaxed, reflective atmosphere with no hard sell
The Telecommunications Managers Association has been holding its 23rd annual get together at the Metropole Hotel in Brighton this week, alternatively described as the last big industry piss-up of the year and, from the organisers, a forum for the industry. According to the organisers, last year the event attracted 6,000 delegates and 300 vendors to display their wares, announce new products and generally discuss the data and telecommunications needs of actual and potential customers. On the first day, the conference and accompanying exhibition was even busier than usual, although they retained the club atmosphere which the TMA prides itself on. Socialising is an important part of the process and as well as two bars, vendors at TMA provide well-stocked hospitality suites in which they can discuss business with clients on neutral ground. Unlike Communications ’90 held in Birmingham in April, only members and pre-registered visitors attend TMA and the emphasis is not so much on selling products as discussing individual strategies and industry trends. The Parliamentary under-secretary of state for corporate affairs, John Redwood, set the agenda for industry discussions with his opening address, a reflection on the Duopoly Review. He touched on three main areas – equal access, satellite communications and cable television. Stressing the consultative nature of the green paper Redwood asked delegates to consider how equal access could be achieved, how far satellite communications should be liberalised and for how long the cable television companies should be protected. Redwood added that introduction of competition in the local loop would depend on the strength of British Telecom’s commercial response.
Dowty’s Cognito has two-way super-pager
Cognito Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Dowty’s Information Technology Division, was one of the few companies at TMA to launch an entirely new product, a two-way paging service called Emissary. Dowty claims a first in the provision of public two-way paging. According to Cognito the service is set to tackle the data market of cellular and forthcoming personal communication networks. In some markets private mobile trunked radio is also likely to be a competitor. Emissary terminals bleep (if enabled) when the user is being paged, but similaritiies with existing pagers stop there. The terminals are around 7.5 by 3.5 by 1.2 in size, have Qwerty keyboards and function keys and a 4 by 40 character liquid crystal display. Users can exchange text messages of up to 240 characters, terminal to terminal, and senders are automatically informed when the message is delivered. A store and forward feature enables messages to be stored on the network if the user cannot recieve the message – if on a tube train for example – and then when the message can be received it is automatically forwarded. As well as the terminals, Newbury-based Cognito offers optional message management software to enable the management of a group of users from a central site. The software enables supervisors to send the same message to all terminals and it can record messages being sent on the system. Emissary will be tested in January by Lloyd’s of London, Prime Computer UK and Futures Pager. It will be generally available in mid-1991 and costs UKP600 per terminal with a fixed tariff cost of UKP35 per month. Management software costs UKP350. Cognito is aiming coverage of 75% of the UK population by mid-1992.
Racal-Milgo launches Racalan NetExpress
Hook, Hampshire based Racal-Milgo launched Racalan NetExpress, a digital local area network-to-wide area network communications link. The system features a 32-bit bus that supports data throughput of 230Mbps. Each node can filter over 75,000 packets per second and forward 30,000 packets per second in Ethernet/802.3 applications. It interfaces to wide and local networks and therefore supports remote and local internetworking requirements. Wide area network ports can be operated at speeds of 2Mb
Mercury shows off worldwide ISDN
Cable & Wireless’ Mercury Communications Ltd demonstrated its joint venture worldwide ISDN service, called Global Virtual Private Network, on the second day of TMA 23. First announced at Communications ’90 (CI No 1,415), the network is a joint initiative between Mercury in the UK, another Cable & Wireless subsidary Hong Kong Telecom and US Sprint, to provide managed digital voice and data networks to multi-national organisations. Currently, the network covers the US, Hong Kong and UK, but Mercury says other telecommunications carriers will be joining the service in the near future. Mercury says the network allows organisations to exploit advanced capabilities such as videoconferencing and Group IV facsimile. It also provides the other advantages of digital services such as fast call set-up times and caller identification services. The system is offered for use either as an extension to existing private networks or as one itself. Mercury also formally introduced its Datacomms division for business networks, headed by Peter Bury. Bury emphasised Mercury’s backing, giving it strength and stability. A key ingredient in the division according to Bury is Mercury’s systems integration skills and its established support services. The division announced a dealership with Ottawa, Ontario-based Newbridge Networks, to be the main distributor of its digital networking range of multiplexers, network management and integration products. Newbridge has a subsidiary in Newport, Gwent. Mercury Datacomms also launched the Mercury V32 modem with V42 bis data compression. The modem gives automatic access to the Mercury network and is UKP900, UKP500 for a V22 version.
Datapoint has digital call distributor
London-based Datapoint Ltd used TMA 23 to show its digital automatic call distribution system, Infoswitch. It doubles the capacity of Datapoint’s analogue switch, with 500 ports capable of supporting 250 people, against 250 ports for around 92 agents. It is geared towards the introduction of ISDN, preparing users for the advantages of digital systems such as automatic caller identification and better quality lines. Datapoint says the system moves towards intelligent networking and is a base for add-on software packages that the company will introduce as ISDN becomes more widely available. In the meanwhile Infoswitch is fault-tolerant, can process 25,000 in-bound calls per hour and uses Datapoint’s recently upgraded statistics package which has seven screen options, colour coding the status of various elements of the firm’s telephony system, from an agent’s activity to any incoming line bottlenecks. It also includes a daily, weekly or monthly management reporting package which can present reports graphically. Prices work out at about UKP3,500 per position. – Sonya McGilchrist