The Department of Trade & Industry has had plans from over 20 companies that propose the framework for the UK’s next generation of mobile communications services. When Telepoint licences were awarded in January, the Department issued a discussion document, Phones on the Move, requesting proposals for the construction of a Personal Communications Network to rival […]
The Department of Trade & Industry has had plans from over 20 companies that propose the framework for the UK’s next generation of mobile communications services. When Telepoint licences were awarded in January, the Department issued a discussion document, Phones on the Move, requesting proposals for the construction of a Personal Communications Network to rival both cellular and CT2 (CI No 1,105). Almost all of the major players in the UK telecommunications market have submitted proposals, with STC Plc, Motorola Inc and British Telecommunications Plc thought to be among those most interested; Racal Telecommunications Plc, however, wants to concentate further investment in mobile communications on Vodafone, and is likely to be deterred by the very large costs involved in constructing a personal communications network. Plessey Co Plc and Kingston Communications (Hull) Plc – two firms that unsuccessfully teamed up to bid for a Telepoint licence – are the first companies to announce publicly their PCN plans, again as part of a joint venture. They are ready to invest UKP800m in the next five years, a figure that could reach UKP2,000m by the end of century; by this time they say the net could have 15m customers, possibly outstripping both cellular and Telepoint. Plessey and Kingston want to launch their version of the so-called CT4 system, CT3 being the Pan-European system set for 1991, in 1992. The system would use handsets and base stations separate from CT2, though handsets would be similar to those used for Telepoint. The companies have proposed a three-tiered level of service for use in the home, office and in mobile environments, with users subscribing to one of three levels, with the same handset. The three levels are cordless, which would be connected to base stations covering neighbourhoods; portable, similar to Telepoint but with two-way facilites and mainly in urban areas; and mobile services similar to present cellular services, with full handover facilites. Each level would be tariffed so as to compete against equivalent cellular or CT2 services, the companies using the GSM pan-European digital standard but at a higher frequency of 1.7GHz to 1.9GHz. The Department says it is pleased at the response to its document; because it has no specific PCN in mind, it has set no date for the granting of licences, but it does say that if there is a common thread in companies’ proposals, licences could be given by the first quarter of 1990. The DTI has not ruled out granting licences to cellular or telepoint operators, but companies without these licences hope that pressure to increase competition may be exerted to give new players a chance. The DTI will state the requirements for personal communications networks this summer, and eventually grant at least two licences. It has proposed that PCNs should operate in the 1.7GHz to 2.3GHz band.