Commercial Market

New Chipset Expected to Reduce Digital Cordless Telephone Prices

Lucent Technologies Microelectronics Group has introduced the Everest™ series 900 MHz digital cordless telephone chipset, which enables cordless telephone manufacturers to offer products at up to half their current price without sacrificing clarity or range. According to Lucent, Thomson Consumer Electronics and Bell South are planning to introduce telephones incorporating the chipset.

Powered by two 100 MIPS digital signal processors (DSP), the chipset incorporates enhanced forward error-correction and advanced frequency-hopping spread spectrum (FHSS) technologies to enhance voice clarity and improve range up to 15 percent. The set also includes two communications signal processor chips and two 900 MHz RF transceiver chips; one of each chip will be incorporated into the cordless telephone base station and the handset. The software-programmable DSP is capable of providing feature customizations and upgrades. In addition, the chipset provides six hours of talk time and seven days of standby time.

The unit is available currently in sample quantities with production quantities expected to be available by the end of Lucent's first quarter. The cost of the chipset is projected at $14.95 in quantities of 100,000.

Europe*Star Joint Venture Operations to Begin This Year

Alcatel and Loral Space & Communications have jointly formed a new satellite services company to provide a range of video and telecommunications services throughout Europe, the Middle East, South Africa, India and Southeast Asia. Europe* Star Ltd. will be a member of the Loral Global Alliance (which includes Loral Skynet), allowing the new company to provide global satellite services immediately.

The initial two-satellite system will be collocated at 45° east longitude. During the first quarter of the year, Europe*Star will be based in London with additional facilities in Germany and France. As prime contractor, Alcatel will develop Europe*Star's space and mission segments and provide the telecommunications payload. The first and second satellites are scheduled for launch in 2000 and 2002, respectively.

The system's design focuses on high power transmission capacity and regional interconnectivity. The satellite system will be the first to deliver Ku-band connections for direct-to-home (DTH) between Europe and Southeast Asia. Europe*Star will also be the first company to interconnect all regions within its footprint and deliver high power for small-dish receiver applications from a single system.

Cable Modem and Wireless to Dominate Internet Access Market

Arecent study by Datacomm Research Co., "Bandwidth Bonanza: High Speed Internet Access Technologies, Markets and Vendors," forecasts that cable television and wireless industries will dominate the high speed Internet access market through 2003. In general, the traditional telephone company connection is expected to be replaced by cable television's broadband hybrid fiber-coax networks and the wireless industry's new spectrum and digital technology, which are redefining local access markets. Nine candidates for high speed Internet access are examined, including cable television, telephone company digital service lines, mm-wave radio multipoint distribution, cellular and PCS, wireless cable television, satellite services, data broadcasting, wireless local area networks (WLAN) and infrared devices.

The number of cable modem subscribers is forecast to grow from 400,000 in 1998 to 5.8 million in 2003, a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 71 percent. High speed access connections are forecast to grow at a CAGR of 98 percent from 500,000 in 1998 to 15.2 million in 2003. Of those 500,000 subscribers, 475,000 were wireline and 25,000 were wireless. However, both wireline and wireless are expected to reach 7.6 million in 2003.

In addition, cable modems are expected to outnumber telephone company digital service lines by a wide margin by 2003. Eventually, wireless is expected to become the most popular broadband access platform with Teligent and Winstar forecast to top the wireless access provider list. Digital cellular/PCS operators who provide 64 kbps service or faster are also expected to enjoy an important share of this business along with broadband satellite service providers. Always-on connectivity, bandwidth-on-demand and mobile service are predicted to become standard rather than special features. WLAN technology is expected to be somewhat of a surprise major player in the high speed access market. For additional information, contact Datacomm Research Co. (314) 514-9750, fax (314) 514-9793.

First Dual-band GSM Networkto be Installed in Russia

ZAO Mobile TeleSystems, Russia's largest GSM operator, has awarded Motorola's Cellular Infrastructure Group (CIG) two contracts calling for the supply of GSM network infrastructure. The first contract will expand the existing GSM 900 network in the Moscow area and the second will implement Russia's first dual-band 900/1800 MHz GSM cellular communications network. Work on the second contract is scheduled to begin this year with system deployments in Moscow and in the other oblasts in central and northern Russia and the Urals where dual-band licenses have been issued. The values of the contracts were not disclosed.

FCC Seeks V-band/Permits Airborne Use of Cellular  Telephone Links

According to Satellite Week, a new spectrum control plan has been adopted unanimously by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that encourages the development of the 36 to 51.4 GHz V-band for broadband services (including wireless local loop and video/data services). Except for some limited use for point-to-point and point-to-multipoint services, the band currently has no commercial usage.

The new spectrum plan reduces the need for frequency coordination by providing exclusive primary designations for both wireless and fixed satellite services (FSS). Wireless services have been assigned a total of 5.6 GHz at 37 to 37.6 GHz, 41 to 42.5 GHz, 46.9 to 47 GHz and 50.4 to 51.4 GHz. FSS have been assigned a total of 4 GHz at 37.6 to 38.6 GHz, 48.2 to 50.2 GHz and 40 to 41 GHz (also for mobile and broadcast satellite services). The FCC has retained existing designations in the band, including 46.7 to 46.9 GHz for unlicensed commercial vehicular radar and 47 to 47.2 GHz for amateur use. The rules of the plan provide a contiguous spectrum for wireless services, move FSS designation to the spectrum globally allocated for FSS, eliminate separate designations for geostationary and nongeostationary FSS, and omit a process for secondary licenses to avoid potential interference between satellite and terrestrial services.

In related news, the FCC has granted cellular providers a waiver permitting operation of AirCell Inc.'s new air-to-ground wireless telephone service. (Conventional cellular telephone operation in an airborne aircraft is prohibited by FCC rules due to potential interference with terrestrial systems.) While the AirCell system operates within the standard 800 MHz cellular telephone frequency band, the company has incorporated technologies that keep its signal from being detected by conventional ground-based sites. Thus, only cellular ground sites equipped with the specialized AirCell antennas will receive the signal from the aircraft; others will not be affected by the airborne transmissions. The system handles both voice and data communications, including fax, e-mail and Internet access.