Manufacturers of digital cordless CT2 technology are expected to announce a standard for a common air interface to radio base stations this week. Ferranti Creditphone, GEC Plessey, STC Plc and Shaye Communications Ltd have been meeting several times a week in order to reach a swift decision, say industry sources. The pressure is on because the Department of Trade & Industry has set an autumn deadline for awarding up to four operator licences, and manufacturers want to incorporate the specification in synchronisation with the Department timetable. GEC Plessey and STC have both denied a report that the standard is leaning towards an STC-based protocol, although one source confirmed that a common standard has been agreed in principle and is waiting a formal recommendation to the Department. The government ordered interested parties last spring to agree a standard with the threat that one would otherwise be imposed, to prevent incompatible standards muddying the market. The move is intended to keep prices down and give UK industry a better chance of penetrating the continental market, which to date has not been active in cordless technology. The tight timetable for introducing CT2 or Telepoint will undoubtedly give the leaders an advantage over the later entrants. Should British Telecom be awarded an operator’s licence, it plans to push for a spring launch – and will probably have to look beyond its contracted equipment supplier, STC, for kit, said a source who doubted that STC would be ready in time. Ferranti Creditphone and Shaye Communications are believed to be ahead in the equipment stakes although even Ferranti will be pushed to meet its autumn launch promise. Ferranti has been granted an interim licence by the government to test its ZonePhone service in public.
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