Telecommunications manufacturers find Brighton so bracing for launching new products
The sleepy, mid-winter Sussex seafront was disturbed this week by armies of telecommunications managers converging on Brighton for the 21st convention of the Telecommunications Managers Association, TMA. Over 150 organisations were represented, ranging from tiny one-product companies, through to the likes of British Telecommunications Plc, IBM and AT&T. For the minnows, this was very much a big day out, a chance to rub shoulders with the big boys of the industry. Representatives from the larger companies, less excited, rather looked as if they’d seen it all before. A diverse range of equipment is on show, covering alarm systems, modems and multiplexers, PABX systems, telexes and a host of other products. Those keen enough to present themselves for the 9am start on Tuesday were welcomed by TMA chairman R K Bell, manager of Telecommunications Consultancy and Projects at BP International. Speeches from representatives of many of the leading players in the communications arena followed, before the conference was finally opened. Overall impressions of TMA differed; most exhibitors seemed to find the annual convention a useful way of catching up on product and technical developments in the industry, while many looked forward to the opportunity of confronting competitors with mild criticism, and indulge in some friendly spying. For others, TMA represented the best way possible to show the industry that we’re still alive and kicking. Though the conference was clearly sales-orientated, several managers pointed, with some disappointment, to an overall product-emphasis. One prospective buyer commented on his efforts to find broader solutions to organisational and technical problems, rather than being on the lookout for single products. Despite all this, new products were, almost exclusively, very much kept under wraps.
Aspect enlists Informix, Unix in call distribution system, launches in UK
In an effort to capitalise on an estimated 40% growth rate in the UK Automated Call Distribution market, San Jose, California-based Aspect Telecommunications Corp has formed a UK subsidiary in London to introduce its CallCenter automatic call distribution system to the UK. The product is a stand-alone, all-digital distributor, designed to handle up to 50,000 calls per day. Running under Unix the controller features two 16MHz 32-bit Motorola 68020 processors, 8Mb RAM, 80Mb to 400Mb hard disk storage and four to 24 serial ports, and the Informix relational database. The CallCenter has capacity for 24 to 300 agents, and 24 to 400 trunks depending on configuration, while the voice processing unit allows for 800 different users messages. The company claims that the system’s call-back voice messaging, real time trend figures, tutorials, flexible system architecture and integrated voice storage and retrieval will give it a competitive advantage in the UK market. The system has had the nod from the British Approvals Board for ro Telecommunications, and maintenance will be carried out by Ilkley, West Yorkshire-based Bailey Telecom – in advance of the product’s January release, Aspect has announced a $150,000 deal with Microsoft Ltd for the installation of a CallCenter. Venture capital-backed Aspect Telecommunications was founded in August 1985, coming out with the CallCenter in April 1987. Company president James Carreker says that the company will be introducing the CallCenter to continental Europe in the near future.
GEC Plessey unveils new PABX, combined PABX and call distributor
GEC Plessey Telecommunications Ltd, presented its new MDSS PABX at the show. Aimed at small- to medium-sized companies, GEC Plessey claims that the 64 ports can be configured in almost any combination. The company is hopeful for a full launch in March, 1989, by which time it hopes to have received full approval for the product, which is manufactured entirely at the company’s plant in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham. And the company’s Reliance offshoot was showing what it claimed to
be the UK’s first combined PABX and Automatic Call Distribution system, Release 2 ACD. The company claims the system is able to queue incoming calls, and then to offer call priroity to those who have waited longest. It is designed to serve between 20 and 500 extensions.
Racal Vodapage launches first national UK paging service
Recently floated Racal Telecommunications Plc’s paging subsidiary, Racal-Vodapage Ltd, announced what it describes as the first national paging service. Julian Horn-Smith, director in-charge of Racal-Vodapage, claimed that until now customers wanting nationwide coverage have had to subscribe to numerous local srvices. In addition to the national service the company is offering north and south coverage options. The monthly rental for a Tonecall pager with one alert and national coverage is UKP16.75, while a Wordcall alphanumeric pager can be used nationwide for UKP39.50. The customer who buys a pager pays UKP12.75 a month for the national Tonecall service and UKP29 for the equivalent Wordcall service. Regional coverage is available to rental customers at UKP14.75 for a Tonecall pager and UKP34.75 for a Wordcall, owners can subscribe to regional coverage at UKP10.75 and UKP24.25 respectively.
Mercury unveils its first ISDN service – initially in London and Manchester
Britain’s other public telecommunications operator, Mercury Communications Ltd, announced an integrated service digital network, ISDN, service aimed at business customers. Called Mercury 2100 Premier the system provides a link between customer equipment and Mercury’s digital network, and will be available initially only in the London and Manchester areas. In common with British Telecommunications Plc the service employs DASS 2 or Digital Access Signalling System number 2 – digital signalling, to deliver Mercury exchange lines direct to a customer’s PABX. Mercury claims the service allows customers make use of advanced applications such as high speed data, up to 64Kbps, and Group IV facsimile without the need for dedicated circuits. Prices for 2100 Premier are based upon the existing Mercury 2100 service, which is provided in multiples of 30 lines by optical fibre or microwave: 30 lines of microwave costs UKP3,000, and optical fibre costs UKP2,175; 30 rented lines costs UKP2,000 and UKP1,850 respectively; and it costs UKP350 for each 30 circuits to upgrade existing 2100 to 2100 Premier.
More from the show in a future issue. The Telecommunications Managers Association Convention is Brighton’s Metropole centre, and today, Wednesday is the final day of the four-day event – it starts on Sunday. It opens 10am, early closing 3pm today.