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October 16, 1995

TEXAS INSTRUMENTS HAS CELLULAR DIGITAL MULTIMEDIA SYSTEM

By CBR Staff Writer

It has taken a very long time coming, but now the adjective resurgent really can at last be attached to Texas Instruments Inc, once the world’s largest chipmaker and a serious computer company, but very much an also-ran since the early 1980s. And having spent the last decade cutting back and getting out of businesses, it is at last looking at promising new areas to enter, and has lighted on digital cellular telecommunications – not with a me-too product, but with an innovation. It has created the Local Multipoint Distribution Services business as a unit of the its Communications and Electronics Systems Group, and the unit has designed, built and demonstrated a prototype network system based on local multipoint distribution. The system is designed to enable two-way cellular transmission of digital video, speech and data, and has the support of Philips Electronics NV and Hewlett-Packard Co, among others. Texas has developed high-speed chips for the system – in Gallium Arsenide, the only technology fast enough. The system, which inter alia can be used for what is ridiculously called wireless cable television, is designed to provide integrated, two-way digital distribution of multimedia services such as broadcast and cable programming, movies on demand, telephony, video conferencing and high-speed on-line access. If you’re a service provider that does not have the capability for video, this is attractive – it allows the minimum of infrastructure, said Bill Eversole, vice-president and general manager of the Texas Instruments group. The system is designed around a fixed network of transmitter and receiver nodes and antennae in a cell structure. Customers will access services through a small rooftop antenna and an interface unit that connects to their telephone, facsimile machine, modem, television set-top box or videoconferencing system. The system achieves this high throughput simply by using a particularly wide frequency band, according to Eversole. It requires the whole 27.5GHz to 28.5GHz band, compared with the few Megahertz needed for cellular telephony. Eversole said the US Federal Communications Commission is currently considering the proposal in preparation for a frequency auction. He said a decision was likely towards the middle of next year.

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