With plans to target the corporate market, Swedish telecommunications operator Telia and Ericsson Inc. are testing a new dual-mode telephone that will allow users to seamlessly switch from private wireless networks to the public cellular network.
Telia and Ericsson said they are jointly testing a dual-mode handset that can operate on Digital European Cordless Telecommunications-based private systems as well as Global System for Mobile communications networks. Initially, the companies plan to deploy 5,000 models of the GSM/DECT digital wireless phone in Sweden starting next year, Ericsson said.
Used throughout Europe, DECT is an in-building communications system based on Time Division Multiple Access technology. Each company’s DECT system is a private network accessed through cordless office phones. GSM systems also are based on TDMA technology.
Dual-mode GSM/DECT phones will first try connecting with the user’s DECT network. If the user is beyond the range of DECT service, the phone will automatically connect to the public GSM network.
In Sweden, constant mobility is in great demand, according to Vladimir Durowich, Telia’s product manager for corporate mobility. DECT use is growing rapidly and Sweden’s cellular penetration is high, the companies said.
Mid- to large-sized businesses comprise the bulk of DECT customers. About half of the phone extensions within these companies are cordless, Durowich said. About 10 large companies throughout Sweden have expressed strong interest in the GSM/DECT innovation, Durowich noted. Plans call for the phones to be delivered over a 12-month period, beginning first quarter 1996.
User cost for the dual-mode phones has not been determined, but Durowich estimated the price would fall into the $600-$700 range, at the current exchange rate. The service will most likely cost between 20 percent and 25 percent more than stand-alone GSM cellular service, Durowich added.
After activating service in the corporate market, Telia will target other user types as well, Durowich said.
Telia has operated as a private company since the early 1980s when cellular telephony was introduced in Sweden. However, the Swedish government still owns 100 percent stock in Telia. Telia also is part of the Unisource alliance with other European countries and has formed a wireless telecommunications venture with AT&T Corp., called Uniworld, to serve corporate customers with global communications needs.