After its introduction in the UK three years ago, Trunked Private Mobile Radio – radio networks for communications between mobile field personnel and a fixed base – is gaining popularity on the continent. Licences to set up regional networks have recently been granted by the French and German governments the French government has split France […]
After its introduction in the UK three years ago, Trunked Private Mobile Radio – radio networks for communications between mobile field personnel and a fixed base – is gaining popularity on the continent. Licences to set up regional networks have recently been granted by the French and German governments the French government has split France into four regional areas and is granting licences for six of them, Deutsche Bundespost Telekom has recently announced the availability of five regional networks. Callum Mackie, co-founder and former sales and marketing director of Band Three Radio Ltd reckons that the opportunities in the rest of Europe now outstrip the UK in terms of growth, and although he acknowledges that subscribers are still signing up to the British operators, Mackie has decided to take his expertise across the Channel and offer his experience to European firms setting up trunked private mobile radio systems for the first time. In a deregulated Europe, Mackie reckons the market could be worth as much as UKP800 million by the mid-1990s. The European market could also be of interest to equipment manufacturers. Because of its head start, the UK standards in trunked private mobile radio standards have a good chance of becoming de facto in Europe – which would offer substantial opportunities for UK equipment firms. Specialised software for particular markets is another area that could grow considerably. Mackie, meanwhile, has set up Opra Ltd, a consultancy focussing on forming joint ventures with local companies or investors to win network licence applications. It offers network management experience as well as the services of technical and project management personnel. Although backed by the Maxon Group, an American equipment distributor for private mobile radio, Mackie says advice from Opra will be completely independent. And although he was formerly at Band Three, one of the two national UK operators, Mackie is initally aiming to help investors pick up regional licences as he says that due to the large infrastructure costs of a national service, regional networks are more profitable. The type of firm that might use the system is a fleet operator with a large network of lorries making deliveries throughout a particular region. Another customer might be district nursing organisations. Mackie acknowledges that his expertise has a shelf life and to begin with he is marketing his service as a way for European consortia to have a greater chance of being granted licences. Consultancy is therefore only one part of the operation, and Opra will also be looking to take some equity stakes in network operations in return for its services.