As the launch of Telepoint public cordless telephone services in the UK approaches, the fight for a stake in what is being seen increasingly as a potentially highly lucrative business is becoming more animated. Ferranti International Signal Plc feels it has the whip hand on its Libera Developments joint venture and is telling its partners […]
As the launch of Telepoint public cordless telephone services in the UK approaches, the fight for a stake in what is being seen increasingly as a potentially highly lucrative business is becoming more animated. Ferranti International Signal Plc feels it has the whip hand on its Libera Developments joint venture and is telling its partners to put up or get out (CI No 1,160). But with Cable & Wireless Plc anyway likely to have to sell the 13.5% stake it acquired, through the purchase of Telephone Rentals, in Libera (CI No 1,123), it is likely that there will be an auction for the privilege of becoming Ferranti’s partner in the development company: AT&T Co and Racal Telecommunications Plc, whose own Vodapoint application was one of the ones that failed to catch the eye of the Department of Trade & Industry, are said to be among those interested. But despite the attractions of Telepoint, and the optimistic forecasts as to the industry’s potential, doubts remain as to the market’s ability to sustain all four consortia. According to Shaye Communications marketing manager, Bob Apollo, Telepoint demand will be strong enough by 1992 to bring profitability to operators that manage to win a 25% market share; anything less could spell disaster for any of the consortia preparing to launch Telepoint networks in 1989. But several of the operators are looking for ancillary business to ensure that they make money out of Telepoint even if they don’t do it in the UK: British Telecom hopes that with two PTTs and a US Baby Bell in its consortium it will be in pole position for a big share in an operators licence in foreign markets that are likely to be more protected and therefore more profitable than the UK is likely to be. Shaye, which subcontracts manufacture of its Forum handsets to Philips’ Dunfermline, Fife plant, hopes to come to similar manufacturing deals in continental Europe to foster the spread of its technology there; and further afield, it says businesses in Hong Kong and Singapore are among the keenest in the world to have Telepoint services available. But the card Ferranti has up its sleeve is the introduction of the Common Air Interface in 1991: the company is hopeful that its own pre-CAI stations will be able to coexist with CAI stations when they are introduced, and that pre-CAI handsets will still be suitable for use come 1991. Post-1991, Shaye handsets may have to be replaced or adjusted at the cost of their slender size and light weight.