GSM ALLIANCE DEFENDS CELSAT PLAN

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WASHINGTON, D.C.-The North American GSM Alliance L.L.C., a consortium of U.S. and Canadian GSM personal communications services carriers, filed reply comments with the Federal Communications Commission, saying a decision to disqualify regional mobile satellite systems would shortchange Global System for Mobile communications customers in the United States, Canada and the rest of the world.

Last month, the GSM Alliance filed comments supporting regional operator, Celsat, because of its ability to offer the most complete coverage of North America available anywhere at low PCS prices. However, some of the large competing applicants urged the commission to disqualify regional systems, like Celsat, from some or all of the available mobile satellite spectrum, said the alliance.

“Celsat’s technology would make it possible for terrestrial service providers to provide GSM phone customers with true continental mobility at pennies per minute,” said Don Warkentin, president and chief executive officer of Aerial Communications Inc. and chairman of the GSM Alliance. “A decision to disqualify Celsat would disserve the public interest by depriving many yet-unserved Americans of the ability to use a lightweight, pocket-sized economical GSM phone throughout the U.S. and Canada.”

In its filing, the alliance said arguments of those who wish to exclude regional systems like Celsat are deeply flawed.

“There are a variety of different user profiles for mobile satellite services; not all of the potential subscribers are globetrotting executives who will carry special phones,” commented the GSM Alliance. “Some users, if not most, will be content to confine their roaming to a single continent, and a regional architecture may serve these users much more efficiently than a global one.”

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