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January 26, 1989


By CBR Staff Writer

Telepoint cordless phone pioneer Ferranti International Plc was yesterday duly rewarded with one of the four operators’ licences announced by Trade & Industry Secretary Lord Young yesterday but the lobby arguing against British Telecommunications Plc’s involvement in the new technology failed to prevent the Telecom led Phonepoint consortium – which also included STC Plc – being awarded one of the licences. The Motorola Inc-Shaye Communications Ltd Callpoint consortium has merged with Cable & Wireless Plc’s Mercury Metrophone – though at whose behest, it is not clear, since Lord Young denied it was his department’s doing – to win the third licence. Biggest surprise is perhaps that the fourth has gone to the consortium of Philips NV, Shell Oil and Barclays Bank, which argued that all those Shell petrol stations and Barclays Bank branches were ideal prime sites for Telepoints; the consortium says it will buy equipment from Shaye and Ferranti. Most disappointed are likely to be Plessey Co-Kingston Communications’ Kingline team, and the Racal Vodapoint offshoot of Racal Telecommunications Plc, although it is not out of the question that each will try to join forces with one of the four winners. The GEC Plc-Thorn EMI Plc Callmaker team was also a loser. It was stressed at yesterday’s announcement that British Telecom would have a minority, albeit the largest, stake in the Phonepoint consortium, which also includes Nynex Corp, the New York and New England phone company – cheeky move by Telecom, since Nynex still wants to hold the US end of Telecom’s arch rival Cable & Wireless Plc’s transatlantic cable; France Telecom; and STC, which developed Telecom’s equipment under licence. The strong foreign participation – Motorola and Nynex from the US, France Telecom, Philips from the Nether lands – is intended to increase the chances of the UK Common Air Inter face standard that will supersede the early proprietary systems in 1991 being accepted as an internat ional standard with the prospect of substantial exports from the UK manufacturers of equipment. The winners have the full-speed-ahead signal to start building their net works, with the hope that the first will begin service in early summer. Lord Young also announced extension of the additional frequencies gran ted to the two UK cellular operat ors in Central London to cover the area within the M25 London orbital motorway, but suggestions that a third cellular operator would be licensed proved false. The Depart ment also issued a discussion docu ment Personal Communications In the 1990s to get industry and users thinking about desirable new pers onal communications technologies.

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